The transition after high school is the most challenging event in the life of most teenagers. Here are 6 reasons why Christian teens struggle to make a healthy transition after high school.
1. They underestimate the need to prepare for the transition. Many teenagers who grow up in a solid Christian environment find themselves bubbled into a world where they are not challenged in their faith. This can create a false sense of maturity where the teen thinks he can take on the world. Therefore, he over-estimates his readiness as he under-estimates the challenges of this transition.
2. Their parents are too stressed and overwhelmed to notice. I have worked with a lot of parents of seniors who are so caught up in the moving parts of having a senior that they miss the chance to help that teen focus on how they will survive the next four years of life.
3. They can not see the Spiritual Forest for the Social Trees. In other words, they are too focused on the other transitions instead. A typical college freshman has a bunch of transitions to master all at once. There is the academic transition, the social transition, the emotional transition, and the spiritual transition (just to name the most common ones). Many students address these changes in the order I presented them, with the faith transition as the one often put on a shelf for a rainy day.
4. Their youth group has become the same song, different year. I spend a lot of my time with youth pastors, and I have been one myself. It is a hard job. You have to organize a year of ministry that teaches 12 year old 7th graders and 18 year old seniors. Often, for seniors, they have been there and done that and find the youth group experience to be “so high school”. These kids need to be challenged and given opportunities for leadership but instead they are having their 6th lock-in and playing the same game for the 30th time.
5. They are too sick with senioritis to notice anything else. Senioritis is real and it is contagious. Once it hits a senior in the heart, it is often game over.
6. They have not fully learned to take ownership in their faith by this stage in their life. Faith ownership is the key for making a healthy spiritual transition after high school. Ownership means that an individual takes responsibility over themselves in such a way that they protect their faith and do what it takes to grow. This will not happen automatically, but needs to be an intentional focus of discipleship.