RYM 018: Understanding Teenage Brains With Mark Oestreicher

Have you ever looked at one of your students and thought, “What were you thinking?” Well, thanks to new discoveries in adolescent brain development, we’re starting to find out. The truth is, a teenager’s brain changes dramatically throughout their middle school and high school years. This week, join ministry leaders for a conversation with Mark Oestreicher about the teenage brain and how we can leverage the development of the brain to set our students up for a vibrant faith.

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When we look at the teenage brain without understanding it, we tend to make assumptions that are wrong. (4:00)

Do you see teenagers as a problem to be solved or as a wonder to behold? (4:30)

You can extend grace totally different when you understand. (09:00)

They are not problems to be solved, but people to be loved, through a God-ordained process. (10:00)

During puberty, teenagers have the capacity to think more abstractly, which includes the introduction of third-person perspective and speculation. (20:00)

Don’t assume that they are hearing you the way you think you are communicating. (22:00)

Doubts and questions are not only normal, but they are essential. (23:00)

The role of the prefrontal cortex. (27:00)

How you use your brain in your young teenage years, predicts how you will use it for the rest of your life. (35:00)

Marko explains the correlation between the anterior cingulate and faith development in adolescents. (45:00)





CJ is the Managing Editor for XP3 High School and Social Media Strategist for XP3’s blog and social media platforms. CJ has been leading small groups for middle school and high school students at North Point Community Church for the past 10 years. He also placed 5th in his 8th grade class fun run. CJ and his wife, Teri, live in Alpharetta, GA.



Mark Oestreicher is a partner in The Youth Cartel, providing services and resources for individual youth workers and organizations. Mark has authored a number of books, including A Beautiful Mess: What’s Right About Youth Ministry, Middle School Ministry: A Comprehensive Guide to Working with Early Adolescents, and Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto of Where We’ve Been, Where We Are & Where We Need to Go. He’s been married to his wife Jeannie for 30 years, and they have two great kids: Riley (22) and Max (18).



Ashley Bohinc serves as the Director of Middle School Strategy at Orange, co-host of The Think Orange Podcast, and co-author of The Art of Group Talk. She’s worked with students in public education, athletic, and ministry settings since 2005. Ashley is most passionate about resourcing the local church, communicating onstage, developing leaders, working with students, and engaging in world missions. Additionally, she’s the USA Director of Carry 117. In her downtime, you’ll find her watching Friends, cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers, traveling, reading, or on one of her Fairytale Friday Adventures.



Tom Shefchunas is the Executive Director of Student Strategy at Orange. In this role, he leads the development and strategy for XP3 Middle School and High School curriculum. Previously, Tom was North Point Ministries’ Multi-Campus Director of Transit, their middle school ministry, for 12 years. And before that, he spent 10 years as a high school teacher, coach, and principal. Additionally, he is the co-author of Lead Small with Reggie Joiner. Tom and his wife, Julie, live in Cumming, Georgia, with their three children, Mac, Joey, and Cooper.

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Orange Conference 2018