One of the struggles many teens face is the fear of change. The status quo feels familiar and safe. Even teens who talk about big dreams often find it difficult to take that first step towards achieving them. The somewhat comfortable status quo can even convince some young people that the indecisive faith path (“I don’t know if I’m ready to become a Christian yet.”) is somehow safer than becoming a Christian.
When adults are confronted with a young person stuck in his or her status quo, they often become frustrated. Godly advice, pressure, arguments and other persuasive techniques (not all appropriate at times) seem to almost entrench the teen more deeply in the status quo. How then can Bible class teachers, mentors and family members convince a status quo loving teen to move forward in his or her faith walk?
In his book, The Catalyst Jonah Berger suggests helping them see that the status quo actually equates to doing nothing at all…. no decisions, no changes, no new actions, thoughts or attitudes. Status quo is a way of becoming frozen in time (like they accuse many older adults of having done). This alone may prove a wakeup call to some teens.
But Berger takes it a step farther. He recommends showing those stuck in status quo mode the consequences of doing nothing. Time and the world continue to move forward. They continue to age. The Day of Judgment is one day closer. This is not a scared straight discussion, but rather asking them to imagine what their life and the world will be like in the future if they continue to keep the status quo.
The teen who is perhaps a little more savvy, will probably explain that he or she has every intention of making decisions or changing… in the future. Pointing out the realities of inertia and procrastination – along with a few concrete, real world examples – can help them see the future will probably look like the present – except with negative consequences for delaying doing what God expects them to do. (A smoker and lung cancer are an easy to understand example of how something that at first seems positive or at least neutral can become deadly over time.)
It’s important to try and see the hearts of teens stuck in the status quo. Are they fearful of making a mistake or is this a sign of hearts that are hardening towards God? In fact, it may be necessary to ask the teen to consider that very question.
Letting Christian teens become comfortable in their spiritual status quo isn’t healthy for them or the Church. The Bible calls for spiritual growth – which means change and action. Staying in status quo mode will rarely result in positive spiritual growth. Trying to help them come to their own conclusions about their need to change may very well be the best way of reaching them.