Recently, I viewed Jane Fonda’s “Life Third Act” on Ted Talks. Without going into her entire presentation (there’s some great insights there whatever you think of Jane Fonda), her premise is since people are generally living approx. 30 more years than the great-grandparent generation, there’s a new stage of life, a 2nd adulthood (similar to what adolescence is to childhood) to define. The fact is, there is much more this generation approaching their third act can offer.

That’s where my thoughts turned to youth ministry. Many times, in my line of work supporting churches who help disciple teenagers with CBOQ Youth, I hear from those over the age of 55 (maybe even the age of 35) saying they don’t feel they can really be effective in youth ministry, given all the physical activities and such. If Fonda’s premise is correct, then there is actually much more for them to connect with adolescence than they think. There is a sense of “redefining” their identity (in the clip, Fonda refers to a person with Lou Gehrig’s disease who found himself once again). Perhaps as this particular generation enters their third act, they may have much more in common with adolescents as they enter that stage of life, through their (re)discovery of their identity and perhaps even life purpose.

For a while now, youth ministry seems to be shifting to this idea of “sharing life”, what Chap Clark refers to as the new “5 to 1” ratio (where 5 adults significantly invest in 1 student’s life). There may be much more of a reciprocal relationship here between those ages 13-25 and those 60+ than could have ever been imagined.