Hurt by Chap Clark
Reading through the first part of HURT, I was a little overwhelmed with the theoretical evidence and proof that laid the foundation for Dr. Clark observation, study, and analysis of the students of La Crescenta High school. The theoretical work brought an enriching comprehension of what Dr. Clark was suggesting and arguing in the second and third part of HURT. Part one is theory. Part two and three are identifying and applying the principles. Hurt highlighted three aspects that reshaped my thinking towards mid-adolescents and Youth Ministry.
First, I was so pleased to see that Dr. Clark actually went into the trenches namely a high school, to observe and gather data on High School students in their environment for writing this book. He demonstrated the reality of where these students are living and how they maneuver through their” world”. Nothing in this book surprise me regarding High School students. For example: As one student told me, ‘Sex is a game and a toy, nothing more.’ (123) Today’s adolescents are, as a lot, indescribably lonely. (p. 69) Midadolescents believe that few if any adults genuinely care about them. (p. 68) “The vast majority of adolescents, drinking is not about drinking; it is about community. What I observed was that almost every midadolescent either loves to party or affirm the ritual of the party and therefore wants to be involved, even if he or she does not drink” (164).
Second, I realized that mid-adolescents have created a new “world beneath” because they have been rejected and abandoned from the real world, especially adults. Clarke states: “By the time adolescents enter high school, nearly everyone has been subjected to a decade or more of adult-driven and adult-controlled programs, systems, and institutions that are primarily concerned with adults’ agendas, needs, and dreams”(46). “Adolescents have suffered the loss of safe relationships and intimate settings that served as the primary nurturing community for those traveling the path from child to adult…The postmodern family is often so concerned about the needs, struggles, and issues of parents that the emotional and developmental needs of the children go largely unmet” (50). The abandonment issue validates why it is so difficult to build trust and make a huge impact on mid-adolescents. It is imperative to understand where and how they are living. We, as the Church, need to work extra hard to making these students come from out of their world and into the real world.
Third, every student to some degree is lonely and depressed. “Today’s mid-adolescents feel a sense of loneliness and isolation that betrays the confidence with which they present themselves, even to one another” (144) Loneliness and depression are the symptoms of not belonging and fitting into this ideal world that is in one’s head. This is why community building is sooo essential to youth ministry. We need to take this lonely and depressed student and insert him or her into a safe and comfortable environment where the student feels welcome and that they belong and fit. Youth ministry should not be something he or she just attends, but the youth ministry should be who they are.
I highly recommend Clark’s book to anyone who works with youth. Clark’s content is excellence in the areas of: academia, application, and intergration. I give this book two thumbs up!! The dude provides an accurate portrayal of today’s teenagers. We have to get in these students under world in order to relate and understand how they are living. Then, we can begin to build a youth ministry program honing in on the real needs of the students. We need to take these abandoned students and make them apart of something bigger than themselves, namely living in the way of Jesus.