Finding My Way Home


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Brief Description

Intersection includes complete resources for teaching both younger and older youth, including learner’s materials, teaching guides, and handouts. The teaching guide is options-based, so teachers can customize sessions to match their favorite approach.

“Finding My Way Home”

In many ways, contemporary teenagers are literally finding their way. They are finding their way from the familiar life stage of childhood to the unfamiliar life stage of adulthood. Adolescence is like “living in-between,” for youth are neither children nor adults. Today’s young people have a difficult time clarifying what exactly makes them adults. A major reason for this difficulty is the lack of intentional societal efforts to mark the transition from childhood to young adulthood. Although our culture provides some support for the adolescent transition, few identifiable events or experiences mark this significant passage.

Arnold van Gennep was one of the first people to deal with rites of passage, which he saw as involving three stages. In the first stage a person is separated from a previous way of living (for instance, as a child). In the final stage, the person is incorporated or reintegrated into a new way of living (for instance, as an adult). The middle stage, on the other hand, is a transitional one (for instance, adolescence). Victor Turner added to van Gennep’s theory the idea that some people get caught or stuck in the transitional, or in-between, time (Myerhoff, 382). Once young people leave childhood, they are given little formal instruction on how to “reintegrate” and get caught in between childhood and adulthood.

In Session One, we focus on Luke’s portrayal of Jesus as a youth who assumes some very adult roles. Jesus claims his own faith, makes his own statements about his identity, and acts independently. How might Jesus’ culture have made this transition easy for him? Contemporary Judaism provides a rite of passage whereby a Jewish boy takes on the adult obligations of the Law. If Jesus did indeed experience a bar mitzvah, the ceremony would have communicated clearly to him that he was an adult and that it was time for him to accept and assert his own identity. Teenagers can relate with the events of Luke 2:39-52, for they, too, are in the process of establishing their own identity. Use this session to help your youth recognize that they are in a period of transition, and then guide them to begin defining meaningful ways of marking this time in their lives.

Session Two focuses on a vital component in helping young people navigate their transition: the presence of at least one caring adult who intentionally becomes involved to provide guidance. This wise and caring person can come in the form of a role model or a mentor. A role model is someone whose life serves as an example. Role models are imitated, but might not personally know the ones who follow them. A mentor, on the other hand, becomes intentionally involved in someone’s life for the express purpose of helping and guiding that person. Second Corinthians 6:1-10 affords many opportunities to help youth perceive Paul as a role model—or even a mentor—and define for themselves what they are looking for from their own role models and mentors.

Finally, Session Three focuses on the difficulty young people endure in establishing a stable identity. Faithful teens are under extreme pressure to conform to a surrounding culture that does not share their values or ways of living. Finding one’s identity through a relationship with Jesus can make life’s difficulties easier to bear. Like the four young men in Daniel 1:3-21, Christian teens may discover a perspective on life and power for living that they might not otherwise experience.

by Rob O’Neal

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The purchaser of this file has permission to print twenty copies of this Learners Study Guide. Neither the file nor the printed contents may be sold copied or transferred to another person or church. The purchaser may make a backup copy of the file.

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