This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway) is written by Jaquelle Crowe, a graduate of Thomas Edison State University and the editor-in-chief of the The Rebelution. Written when she was 18 (the same age as me), Crowe’s main motivation behind writing This Changes Everything was that she wished a book like this had been around when she was an adolescent.
The title is the book’s theme, which Crowe develops by unpacking eight aspects of a Christian’s life – identity, story, community, sin, disciplines, growth, time, and relationships – and how our belief in the gospel changes and informs those aspects.
This 150-page book is constructed with short and easy-to-read chapters. The author includes at least one graphic in each chapter that summarizes her main point. Following each chapter are three discussion questions that can be used as a personal reflection or in a group discussion. These questions vary from surface-level to very introspective, asking the reader to dig deeper.
When speaking of service, the rector at my church, Chris Warner, frequently mentions that there is no “junior” Holy Spirit. Crowe similarly believes that if teens are part of a Church body, then we have a responsibility to that body. Teenagers are the future of the church, and our desire to serve and be a part of that community should invigorate our church staffs.
God calls us to practice spiritual disciplines and let them fill us with joy. Crowe highlights just four disciplines, but each play an integral role in fueling us:
- Take God’s word and thoughtfully reflect on it. Dig Deeper by Nigel Beynon and Andrew Sach is a resourceful book for anyone looking for helpful tools to acquire a greater understanding of God’s word.
- Memorize God’s word so that his truths are flowing throughout our minds every day.
- Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Prayer can be difficult, so Crowe suggests reading Scripture to get an idea of how people communicated with God.
- As part of the Great Commission (Matthew 28), we are called to go and make disciples, and our age shouldn’t stop us!
Crow encourages teenagers to strive to continue growing in Christ and in our knowledge of him and our religion. She says, “Keep learning about him. Keep living for him. Keep reading about him. Keep singing about him. Keep hearing about him. Keep pursuing sanctification. Keep maturing” (110).
Our generation’s frequent answer to, “How are you?” is “I’m busy,” or some alternative to that. We live in a time when the world’s priorities look much different than the priorities God calls us to. Crowe notes that we are called “to invest our minutes and hours in pursuits that bring honor to Jesus instead of temporary pleasure to ourselves” (115). As teenagers, there is joy and fulfillment in intentionally sacrificing our pleasure or comfort, living for eternity, and enjoying God’s gifts.
We need community to help us navigate this crazy time (the teen years) when the gospel is changing everything about us. These relationships with our peers, with younger people, and with older people, draw us closer to Christ and teach us valuable lessons. In our relationships where the Gospel has yet to be spoken, may we pray that God would penetrate and soften hearts, that we would speak truth so that every relationship in our lives ultimately glorifies God.
As a teen who does not operate like other high school students around me, whose desires are much different, and who loves to serve, This Changes Everything was incredibly encouraging and relatable. The music that authentic and genuine Christian teens listen to is sometimes different from the music that we hear on the radio; the way that we dress, both boys and girls, is different from what we see on TV, in magazines, or in the hallways of our schools; Sundays are not just for catching up on homework, but are also used to worship corporately; and the gospel of God’s love and sacrifice for sinners literally changes everything about us, so that we fall more in love with God and want to learn and know more about him each and every day.