Youth live in transition between childhood and adulthood, so youth ministry always has the potential to pull them in either direction. Too often, it tugs toward childishness. We offer really sophisticated day care. We compete with entertainers. But the Christian life doesn’t tend toward prolonged naiveté; it leads to maturity. Any ministry, including youth ministry, should pull toward adulthood, where meaning and romance and grief and deep communion with Christ are found. Whenever we have the chance, we should call youth forward into Christian adulthood.
For Paul, steadiness of mind is a primary mark of Christian maturity. Childish Christians are “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes,” while mature Christians have attained to “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph. 4:13-14, ESV). Mature Christians are steady in mind through Christ, and childish Christians are unsteady.