It sound like a book on disembodied souls…essentially a gnostic thought…but it is not. It is Christian Smith's latest work which studies the religious/spiritual journey of young adults. I found his first book not only helpful but revolutionary to my thinking about youth ministry. If you haven't read, Soul Searching…you need to especially if you have a heart for students. Christian's work on Moralistic Therapeutic Deism was explosive in how it brought substantial critique to the needs based, consumeristic, market-mentality/driven praxis that is often called, "youth ministry" in our culture. If all we are "producing" in local church are narcissists who feel badly when they make a bad decision but then use God like he is a band-aid or a cheap suit to make themselves feel better, then we are in a heap of trouble. All I can say is Soul Searching stands on its own as a fabulous analysis of what ministry has become.
So, because of being so enamored with his work on high school adolescence, I couldn't wait to take a peak at what Dr. Smith discovered about young adults. This is probably the sticky-est age group among most in institutional church. I've heard more angst, frustration, confusion or out and out resignation of defeat among those who are in the seats of power regarding this age group than any other. I'm just starting the book…so I cannot give you a definitive "thumb's up/down" review…but so far, take a peak at this:
"As a result of…complicated social transformations, the transition from the teenage years to fully achieved adulthood has stretched out into an extended stage that is often amorphous, unstructured, and convoluted, lasting upward of 12 or more years. During this time frame, emerging adults experience a freedom that is historically unparalleled, a life structure that is often at most only loosely governed by older adult authorities. This enables emerging adults for many years to explore, experiment, discover, succeed or fail, move on, and try again. For many, this age is also marked not only by alot of fun and growth but also by a great deal of transience, confusion, anxiety, self-obsession, melodrama, conflict, stress, disappointment and sometimes emotional damage and bodily harm."
I couldn't agree more…the issue is that I know "emerging adults" in their 30's who haven't "emerged" into adulthood…they are still playing games with life and expecting "the world" to treat them kindly, fairly and with extravagant generosity. In other words, many are "spoiled"…but that's for another post. I'll give you an update as I make my way through the book…can't wait to see what more Christian Smith reveals…so, more to come…