Empathizing with Today’s Young People - Growing Young Series 2 of 6

By Abigail Parker Herrera

In late 2016, a team from Fuller Youth Institute published Growing Young: 6 Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church. That book is accompanied by several free resources that can be accessed here.

Through their research, Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin identified six things that churches who engage in meaningful ministry with young people do well. This series will briefly identify each of the six strategies and share a story of a place in the United Methodist connection doing that strategy well.


In Growing Young, we read about a leader who keeps a photo of himself as a teenager displayed to remind him of “that awkward phase” (pg. 117). I decided that I would begin this blog article by sharing me at the age of 16:


So. Amazing.

For some reason that date is wrong because this is not 1994, but 1996. This is a quintiessential teen-Abby photo. I liked to try on a, “I’m very adult and angry” look. I didn’t know my hair was curly so it was usually this weird, brushed out frizzy style you see here. I think I’m about to audition for something, hence the sparkly dress, practice tape, and make-up. I’m not sure if I thought this was a good look or not but I know I was fairly confident, and hadn’t failed enough to think otherwise. Paradoxically, I also remember feeling like I was just trying so many things on because I didn’t really know who or what I wanted to be. I often was who I thought my friends would want me to be. How can a person be confident, assured and feel grown-up and responsible while also feeling unprepared, unsure, and nervous all at the same time? I think that is pretty much the essence of being a teenager . . . Read more here