Madonna. Walkmans. TV dinners. Land lines. Bowl cuts. MC Hammer. Star Wars.
Lady Gaga. iPods. Starbucks. iPhones. The Fade. LMFAO. Hipsters. Hunger Games.
When we were in high school, things were a little different—instead of iPads we used wide-margin notebook paper, and our collection of 75 CDs of music was stored in twin towers of jewel cases. The idea of storing 5-kajillion songs on our phone would have caused our heads to explode!
One of the most intimidating aspects of youth ministry is understanding youth culture. One of the biggest roadblocks that potential volunteers face when joining your ministry is determining if they still “get it.”
Here’s the good news right up front: You don’t have to be culturally relevant, but it may be helpful to know the world your students are living in. Here are a few ideas to help you connect with their culture quickly:
- Find out what shows your students watch and watch 10 minutes of each every now and then.
- Watch the MTV Movie Awards (or similar show) for a quick burst of culture…and a quick shock to your system.
- Pay attention to the commercials directed towards teenagers—what are they selling to students?
- Browse the magazines your students are reading.
- Stroll through a local mall and window shop at stores aimed at teens.
- Pick a student up after school for a Starbucks…get there a little early and just observe/listen.
- Join Facebook!
- Surf the Internet—visit sites that your students frequent.
- Go to the local movie theater on a Friday night.
- Ask questions.
The bottom line is simply this: The more you understand about the world today’s junior high and high school students live in, and the more you are willing to remember about yourself at that age, the more effective you will be as a minister.
Even though technology, music, and clothes have changed…the need for love, acceptance and encouragement in a student’s life hasn’t changed a bit. Blessings as you minister today!
This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.