Life Sized Decisions
Large-scale events create the space teenagers need to experience genuine faith. Life is only lived by a teenager with others, especially peers. Things only make sense by testing their thoughts by interacting with someone else. This whole process is amplified when 7,000 of them get together at the same time and place. Now, they are home.
I wrote a paper a couple of years ago for the journal Missiology. You can read the whole thing if you want. TL; dr -- The gist of the research contends teenagers listen most closely to God's calling when they are in a group setting, outside of a regular routine, and have the ear of a close mentor figure. NYC took care of two of the three. What teenagers need now is a mentor figure.
Try not to dump a bunch of things from the world these teenagers left: chores, work details, stressful stuff that happened at home while they were gone. Let them ease back into home life.
They might have already talked about the Big Important Things That Happened at NYC.
Now, it's the small conversations and quiet realizations about what God means to them or what He wants them to do with their lives that might still bang around their skulls; they are not sure ... yet ... what to do with these thoughts and decisions. This could take some time for them to sort out.
They think you want them to be a doctor, but they've heard from God Who wants them to learn Spanish and live in an urban barrio ministering to drug addicts, and they are worried sick about how Mom or Dad are going to react. Be ready and prayerful and patient, did I mention being ready, already? Let your response be less reactive and more receptive.
True, you the parent might need as much grace as the child in responding to God's calling. Be ready. Ephesians 6:15 calls all Christians to be prepared (with the "readiness") to take the "gospel of peace" wherever it is needed. It might be needed in your teen's heart and mind right now. So, be ready.
As my friend Moise in Benin would say, "C'est chaud!" [French pronounced like "say show" meaning "it's hot!"] In other words, don't wait until memories fade, and things cool down. The time is now for these major decisions to turn into life trajectories. Keep the momentum going.
Mentors will help keep the energy of last week rolling forward into the rest of your teen's life.
Make Your Gratitude Obvious
Finally, be thankful for events like NYC. Be grateful for the adults that planned it and accompanied them. Write a quick note to one of the organizers like Justin Pickard at NYI's US/Canada office or if you're from the East Central U.S. Field (East Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio districts), let James Smith know how much you appreciate the work put into this event. Maybe even send your district organizer(s) a gift card. They put a lot into your children this past week/month/year. Make your gratitude tangible.
Things happen at NYC that could never have been planned or anticipated. God works through events like this one. It's scary, I know, a lot has happened in a few days.
I've been a teen, a youth pastor, and a parent. This is what God created us--and our teens--for.
Let His Kingdom come and shine forth!