It Takes a Village to Raise a Teenager

It really does take a village to raise a teenager. Well, at least to raise one that has a pretty good grasp of how the gospel should look as it is lived out in one’s daily life.

I am a mother of five children. Four of them are currently teenagers ranging from ages 12 to 19. I have one who just entered our church youth group and one that works at a church internship through her college ministerial studies. The other two fall right in between. Needless to say, my head is always spinning, and my children are always on the go.

This is precisely why I’ve come to realize how important our village truly is. We live in a modest small town, but that’s not the village to which I’m referring. I’m talking about the host of people who have helped and continue to come alongside my husband and me as we raise our children.

I have great comfort in knowing that when my teenagers are at youth events at the church, I am never concerned about their well-being or the things they may be exposed to. But the village goes far beyond the walls of the church. Just about every week my teenagers are in and out of the homes of those who attend our church. Youth sponsors host events and lead youth spiritual accountability sessions in their homes. Additionally, the friendships my teenagers share with other youth at church cause them to spend considerable time in other homes. This is where the village resides.

Initial credit for the stability and safety of the village goes to our youth pastor. Yes, he requires the standard background check for all adults who interact with our teenagers, but the village concept requires far more than clearance by the government.

To be a part of the village, one has to have a passion for playing a role, be it ever so great or small, in impacting the lives of the youth that have been entrusted to one’s care and guidance.

Those in the village know what it means to be a Christian, to be sold out to Christ, to be on fire for Jesus, to live daily to please Him. In fact, they know it, and they live it. They model it.

Let me dare to take it a step further. Those in the village are also Nazarenes. They know the doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene. They appreciate its humble beginnings and hold in honor those who have gone before us. They live the holiness lifestyle that is pointed to throughout the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene.

So when my teenagers are bouncing from house to house, to church, to camps, to mission trips, to retreats, to theme parties, to afterglow events, to servanthood projects, and back again, I often wonder when I will get to spend a chunk of time with them. Then I remember that I can entrust them to the village and know that they are in good hands. I want my children to be exposed to all these events. I want them to be active participants in the life of the youth group. I could never offer all of this on my own. And that is why I love and appreciate our village.

It is hard trying to parent teenagers today. I’ve found it is much easier when the burden is shared among members of the village.

How does your village look and function? Are the members of the village daily living the holiness call of Christ? Maybe it’s time to expand your village, train some new leaders, and embolden and empower others.  My whole family is blessed to be a part of a vibrant village. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all of our churches embraced the idea that it takes a village to raise a teenager?

Cheralea Purcell

Cheralea is an active member of the Church of the Nazarene. A graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University, Cheralea lives with her husband and four kids outside of Kansas City.

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