Originally published on www.brethrenchurch.org, written by Luke Dowdy of Berlin, PA.
Kids will be kids—but their culture has changed.
I’ve been serving in full-time student ministry in Berlin for 8 years and I can testify that in that time span, youth culture has experienced seismic shifts. Sure, youth culture is always changing somehow, but it’s arguably changing faster than ever. With things like social media, advances in technology, accessibility of youth sports, new marketing techniques, and busier schedules, I’ve come to pivot points in ministry where I realize that some of the old ways of “doing ministry” just won’t work anymore. It’s not that they’re bad or they didn’t work at one point. But new cultures and trends may require a fresh approach.
I checked with a few youth workers and asked what changes they’ve noticed in student culture over the last 5-10 years. Here’s how they responded.
Tim Bordeaux: I’ve noticed an increase in how busy kids are and their level of stress is also higher. The demands put on them have increased in multiple areas of life. But with that, opportunities have also opened up, good and bad. There’s more you can learn, but also be distracted by.
The number of kids who say I deal with a lot of anxiety, worry, and depression has ramped way, way up. Technology has made the world smaller and made a few things seem scarier.
Amanda Dowdy: In an age that pretends to be more connected than ever, students are feeling lonely and disconnected. When relationships are valued at “likes” and “streaks,” vulnerability and authenticity go out the window. This is tough for students, but also a wide-open opportunity for us as youth workers.
John Howenstine: The biggest thing I’ve witnessed is the pace of how things change. I think social media has played a huge role in that. Social media, for all its benefits, has also made a lot of kids feel either bullied or depressed. I’m noticing that more.
You’re also starting to see pushback from students as well because they are tired of change. They desire stability. It’s changing too quick and too often. They’re not able to appreciate what’s currently in and thrive in a steady environment.
All three responses share a common trait: lack of real connection. How will the Brethren respond?...
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