The Not-So-Surprising Answer to Teen Anxiety

The biggest need in youth ministry isn’t better games or cooler leaders, but deep, Gospel-rooted, Scripture-saturated, Christ-exalting theology.

What if the anxiety clung to me like a koala to a tree? That’s the reality many teenagers face these days. Researchers have noted the rise of anxiety among teenagers as reported by the New York Times, but answers as to why have been in short supply.

 

I was getting ready to preach on Easter morning and I felt anxious. Every year, our church holds a breakfast before the Easter service. It’s typically a joyful time to celebrate the resurrection together as a church family, but this particular year my mind was screaming to me, “Don’t go! Don’t be around people!” 

Normally I’m not an anxious person. I’ve never had a panic attack, and I usually don’t feel nervous before preaching since I’ve been doing it for a while. But for some reason, this morning was different. Thankfully, once I got to church and opened my mouth to preach, all the anxiety melted away.

But what if it didn’t?

What if the anxiety clung to me like a koala to a tree? That’s the reality many teenagers face these days. Researchers have noted the rise of anxiety among teenagers as reported by the New York Times, but answers as to why have been in short supply.

Teenagers aren’t the only ones who are anxious, however. Anxiety seems to afflict parents too, especially Christian parents. Of particular concern for believing parents is the potential of their children “dropping out” of the Christian faith once they get to college. Now, the infamous evangelical “drop out” rate has largely been debunked (See Brandon Shields’ chapter in Perspectives on Family Ministry: 3 Views). Yet, everyone would agree that the church (and parents) has the responsibility to teach children God’s Word before they are sent out to college or the workforce.

But not all methods of teaching the Bible are created equal. In my view, the best method is to use “biblical theology.” Biblical theology isn’t about my theology being biblical while yours is unbiblical. Biblical theology is a method for reading the Bible. As Jim Hamilton puts it, biblical theology is about embracing the “interpretive perspective of the biblical authors.”

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