Having spent most of my adult life in different forms of radical youth ministry, I have a deep and passionate message, which I want to share with America. I am not a clinical psychologist, a psychiatrist, a movie star or an award-winning professional athlete. All I am is a simple ordinary man. However, I am a man of prayer, and a man who heard God call me to do whatever I could to reach out to a generation of American youth in the mid 1980’s, a generation, which was committing suicide in epidemic proportions.
What I urgently want to tell you is that the number one mindset standing in the way of today’s kids being able to get back in school is the exact same thinking that has drastically affected youth ministry for the last thirty years. I guarantee that when you finish reading what I am about to tell you, you will be shocked, but I also guarantee that you will say to yourself “That’s it!”
To start off, I need to tell you that I knew nothing about reaching teens when I first answered God’s call. I used to say that the only thing that I know about reaching teens is, “I used to be one!” As a teen, God placed some wonderful mentors in my life. I was so fortunate to have my dad love me more than anyone ever could, and although he did not always understand me, he reached into my life in so many ways to prove that love. In addition, my wonderful teachers, athletic coaches, after school mentors and the greatest friends in the world created a solid foundation for my life. Because of that, to this day I still believe the teen years should be the happiest, most fulfilling, wonderful years of a person’s life, and that when they are not, something is seriously wrong, and something somehow needs to be changed.
When the call settled into my heartstrings in the 1980’s, one teenager was committing suicide every 90 minutes and two to three thousand failed attempts were being reported each day. These stats shocked me! I started sharing them with people and I was further shocked that they were not shocked! Actually their blasé attitude toward teen suicides will end up conclusively proving the point of this article. Although something was dumbing down the emotions of the adults I spoke to, I had yet to realize what it was. I continued to seek an understanding of this in regular prayer before the Lord.
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