Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers

Attention all parents, teachers, youth workers, pastors, and even grandparents! This book is for you. You cannot afford to miss the thesis of this book. We have been focusing our ministry on the rising generation for years in CEP, yet I read this book with a fresh challenge that makes me pray David’s prayer, “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come,” Ps 71:18. I have prayed that prayer daily for years and now after reading Chap Clark’s book Hurt, I pray it with a renewed fervency that has given birth to an even deeper passion to minister to the rising generation.

Buy a copy, read it carefully and listen to the plea of the rising generation as you read through it. Have you heard them? Are you listening? They are asking for help and what they are getting is not the help they are begging for.

Chap Clark teaches at Fuller Theological Seminary and has specialized in youth ministry for some time. His book is full of credible research on how the younger generations have been and are being abandoned by the adult generations. They are not abandoned geographically or materially. Yet the older generations are not helping them develop a biblical worldview to help them live this incredibly complex and difficult life.

It is amazing how young people are telling us they feel threatened, insecure, and unable to face daily issues. While parents are giving their children material things, even sacrificing their own resources to provide the best education and resources to create “superkids,” they are leaving them alone to design their own systems for life and it hurts.

While the younger generation seems to be normal and stable on the surface, underneath their feeling of abandonment is causing great upheaval. Clark includes many testimonials from high school students: “I have many friends and acquaintances, and my home life is more than I could ask for. I just wish sometimes I could find somewhere to belong.” Or, “I therefore suffer in silence, longing to be understood but refusing to share such a nightmare with the unknowing. It is a lonely place in the mind of an unwilling actor.” Or, “People think I have the ‘perfect’ life…They never see the real me. I have to put on a mask. I deal with struggles of beer and alcohol. They don’t know.” Are we listening?

Clark writes, “Adults who care for the young, however, can make a long-term difference in the lives of students when we allow ourselves to be involved, to engage their ethical and moral belief systems and behaviors. If adults commit to train the young to care for others instead of just themselves and reinforce this view with commitment to integrity and honesty, then we have the best chance of influencing their moral development in a positive way.”

The truth is that adults will influence the younger generations for good or for ill. We have the choice to influence them for good but it takes commitment, time, and energy to serve God’s purpose to this generation. Clark reminds us that the church has a calling to care for the young. I would like to be able to proclaim loudly and repeatedly to our youth, “help is on the way. There are adults, including parents, who really do care and are willing to listen and interact with you.”

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Charles Dunahoo pastored churches in Georgia and Alabama before being called to his present position as Coordinator for the PCA of Christian Education and Publications (CEP).

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