I read this article this morning, and it was just too good to pass up. In only a few hundred words, Brian Kirk begins to dive right into something that has been haunting me recently. I could attempt to rewrite it, but I think he says it best.
There’s plenty of conversation going around in regards to an “Internet Culture” that is changing the way that we communicate/think/interact with each other. Our attention span has shortened as we’ve all adapted to a world filled with multi-tasking, pop up ads, and tweets. (I’m no different: right now I’ve got – literally – 13 tabs running on my internet browser, each representing a project or task I’m “currently working on!”)
Our ministries with and for youth are no different, and there is growing pressure to create an environment for teens that is exciting, constantly changing, and never boring. We search out the best games, music, videos in an attempt to keep our teens’ attention for as long as possible, and to show them that our programs are fun enough to make them want to return. However, Brian asks:
“In our pop-culture inspired efforts to keep teens engaged, are we in essence rewiring their spiritual brains to expect that the Christian faith can be summed up in sound-bites and simple theologies?”
What is the impact of this – not only on our ministries but also on the faith that we are teaching young people?
I have many thoughts on this but I’m afraid they haven’t been effectively processed enough for a thoughtful blog response. However, this question seems to be at the base of a conversation I’ve been having AGAIN AND AGAIN with youth leaders, both in the Diocese of Virginia and beyond. In the next few weeks, I will be pulling together a group of interested people in order to have this conversation in a larger setting and hopefully come to some conclusions/decisions/actions in response. If you are interested in being part of this group, please let me know.
In the meanwhile, I encourage you to check out Brian’s article, and also to read the blog he co-authors – Rethinking Youth Ministry. I believe I’ve linked to it before, and I generally enjoy reading it. A book that speaks to this reality pretty clearly is Kenda Creasy Dean’s Almost Christian, and it’s a great place to start if you haven’t read too much about the National Study of Youth and Religion. In terms of what to do next — well I’m still working on it, but I think there are some answers to be found in the Exemplary Youth Ministry Study.
One thing is for certain: all is NOT lost, and there are still many wonderful things going on in the world of Christian Formation and Youth Ministry. However, we may need to think WAY outside the box – heck, we may even need to build an entirely new box! – in order to find what is next.
I encourage your thoughts – both as comments to this post and to me individually. And if you are interested in being a part of an upcoming group (committee, maybe?) whose first task will be taking on some of these questions, let me know. I’m looking for interested parties now!
Resources from this Article:
More information about the National Study for Youth and Religion