Most societies, throughout history, have either viewed young people (teenagers, youth) as big children or little adults. Our culture today seems to be a combination: we increasingly treat teenagers as big children – in fact, there’s been a major shift in this direction over the past decade or two (often due to a faulty interpretation of new learning about teenage brain development!). There are exceptions in our culture, however, where we choose to treat teenagers as little adults (two primary examples would be when a teen gets pregnant, or when a teen commits a crime). Neither extreme is helpful or accurate.
In order to best work with the unique and amazing people we call teenagers, it’s best to think of the teenage years as a distinct stage of development. Consider the teenage years from a creation perspective: what was God’s beautiful and perfect creation intention when God created the realities of this developmental life stage? Or how about this zinger question: In what ways might teenagers be uniquely reflecting the Imago Dei, the theological concept of being made in the image of God?
Understanding the uniquenesses of adolescent development (which, really, means understanding teenage brains) is critical to effective youth ministry. Understanding teenage brains should impact everything you do in the practice of youth ministry.
What’s Included in Understanding Teenage Brains
6 sessions of video teaching
each session includes a quiz with further reading and written responses, with interaction with our team as you learn.
Mark Oestreicher has been involved in church ministry his whole life, particularly with teenagers and youth workers. Marko has had a broad experience working in churches in roles ranging from Junior High Pastor to Executive Pastor. For 11 years, Marko was at Youth Specialties in San Diego, an organization that trains and equips church youth workers – the last 8 of those years as president. Concurrently, Marko was also a part of the leadership team of Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI).
Marko has authored or contributed to more than 70 books, including the much-talked-about Youth Ministry 3.0, and Hopecasting: Finding, Keeping and Sharing the Things Unseen. Marko is a partner in The Youth Cartel, providing resources, training and coaching for church youth workers. Marko’s blog: www.whyismarko.com.
Marko has been married to Jeannie for 31 years, and has young adult and teenage children, Riley and Max.
Mark Oestreicher lives in La Mesa, CA