Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Because of Social Media, Today's Youth Expect to Engage

Last week we introduced the argument that the world of today's technology has vastly shifted the landscape of youth ministry. More specifically, social media has transformed the way the youth of today think and how they interact with their peers. No longer are students just consuming; indeed, this understanding that today’s youth have on impacting the world through social media can naturally spill over into how a student lives out their in-person social lives as well.

Our youth is living in a globally connected world today where interaction with anyone and everyone is a constant reality. If the Christian worldview is not adequately relevant or tangible and if it doesn’t give them opportunity to interact with their world, then pursuing their faith can possibly be dismissed from their list of the activities that are vying for their time. In other words, students today may stop attending youth group not because they disagree with its principles or teachings, but because they may feel like it is an activity that they are not connecting with due to its lack of opportunities to fully engage.

Combine the rise of social media with the introduction of other avenues of multimedia, our youth now also control what they consume. Culture used to be dictated to our teens in a one-way direction, where our students were able to listen to and view only what was on radio and television at the time they turned the device on. Now with wireless and unlimited data smartphone plans, just about any form of media is able to be delivered on demand. With Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Youtube and any other media or streaming service you can imagine, there’s virtually no limit to what is accessible to our youth. The truth is that our students today are more in control than ever in determining what they receive and what they can contribute. A church that refuses to acknowledge the reality of this is a church that shamefully underestimates the spiritual horsepower that a youth group can possess.

As we begin to venture further down the path of student involvement, perhaps it's time for you to take inventory of how your church does youth ministry. Do your students know what spiritual gifts they have and how to use them? How often is a student allowed to utilize their spiritual gifts by taking ownership of a task in your youth ministry? Are there individuals in place to help them succeed in the assigned task? Join the conversation by commenting below and keep in touch as we unpack more in next week's post. Be sure to subscribe and be on the email distribution list to receive updates!

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