Jessica Thompson on Teen Anxiety and Moralism

This Sunday on Instagram, author and speaker Jessica Thompson offered a much-needed word of grace and rest. It was too good not to share with our Rooted readers:

Teen anxiety is skyrocketing and I think the church shares partial blame for this. The messages of ‘do big things for God’ and ‘be the best Christian you can be’ are proclaimed from most youth ministries. They have nothing to do with Jesus or the peace he gives. I heard a teaching for youth that said ‘God looks every time you don’t take a shopping cart back to the spot it belongs.’ This was from a huge church. Why are we teaching teens that the measure of their Christianity is whether they take a shopping cart back? In the same teaching the speaker said ‘a culture of faith is a culture of working hard, like it’s all up to us.’ That is literally anti-gospel. Thinking it’s all up to us is what builds anxiety. Why do we think our teens need to hear these messages? Because we don’t trust the Spirit to actually work…give them the good news of Jesus life, death, and resurrection. Moralism breeds anxiety. I’m sure the shopping cart command came from Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to teach everyone to put their carts back.”

Jessica recently published How to Help Your Anxious Teen: Discovering the Surprising Sources of Their Worries and Fear. She will also be speaking at our upcoming conference in Chicago (Oct. 3-5) on the gospel and sexuality. Her workshop is entitled, “The Talk.” Here is the description: “Developing a holistic view of sexuality is something the church has failed at. We have defaulted to rules as a way to control and have forgotten that the gospel is the only thing that changes us, even our sexuality. In this session, Jessica will explore how the gospel and sexuality intersect.”

You can follow Jessica on Instagram @thejesslou.

Advancing Grace-Driven Youth Ministry

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