Keeping Pace: Addressing Teen Trends in Ministry
- Greg Stier President and Founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries International in Arvada, Colorado
- 2008 8 May
From the green revolution to “Starbucks spirituality,” today’s teens are actively formulating their own unique perception of reality. Keeping a pulse on teen trends can offer valuable insights for how to reach into their world with God’s grace and truth. Check out these five teen trends identified by the Youth Ministry Specialists at Dare 2 Share Ministries:
Trend #1 “Go Green” Will Become the Rallying Cry for this Generation
Today’s teens are looking for a cause to believe in. Many will find it in the green revolution.
Just as the Vietnam war and civil rights movement became rallying cries in past generations, today’s teens are embracing “go green.” Teens’ impact will be felt in everything from vegetarian lifestyle choices to influencing their parents to “live green” and buy a hybrid.
The challenge for youth leaders is to tap into teens’ passion for “saving” the planet and rally them to “saving” the people on the planet through the message of the gospel—giving them a cause that is both global and eternal in impact.
Trend #2 There Will Be a Rising Cynicism Toward Organized Religion
While most teens don’t necessarily harbor negative feelings toward Jesus, they are increasingly disconnecting from organized religion. Instead, they are creating new, unstructured approaches to spiritual community. Teens are exploring options ranging from Internet message board communities of faith to gathering with friends over lattes for God-talk.
In response, youth workers must know that it is imperative that early teens have a vibrant, relevant experience with the church. Young people need that sort of foundation to help them grow deeper in their relationship with God and others, draw them into the life of the church, and unleash them to change their world for Christ.
Trend #3 “Starbucks Spirituality” Will Become More Prevalent
The “Christian movie” sub-genre, as evidenced by the film label Fox Faith, is on the rise. Its growth will increasingly segment movies with a Christian worldview into a Christian entertainment ghetto, away from mainstream media. This ghettoizing of the Christian worldview will further distort perceptions of Christianity. One result? “Starbucks spirituality”—the customized, “made to order” picking and choosing of beliefs from varying religious worldviews. For example, a Starbucks-spirituality approach might pull a tenet from Buddhism, add an aspect of Wiccan and blend it with a few core beliefs of Christianity. To counter this phenomenon, it is essential that Christian teens be grounded in the core doctrines of the faith.
Trend #4 Teens Will Utilize Technology in Sharing Their Faith
The use of technology and Internet-based social networks by teens when sharing their faith will continue to accelerate. MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube provide extensive opportunities for creatively using technology to discuss spiritual things. Blogs and text messaging are open doors through which teens can communicate the importance of their faith in the midst of their daily lives.
Providing teens with specific tools and strategies, i.e., outreach websites, message board communities and God-focused videos clips, will equip them to effectively communicate God’s truth and grace in new ways.
Trend #5 Teens Will Have an Increased Economic Awareness
Teens’ awareness of economic issues will rise with the increasing economic stratification of society. Escalating food and energy prices, coupled with economic uncertainty, will force financially strapped parents to say no more frequently. Conversely, parents on the high end of the economic spectrum will be unaffected by these realities, continuing to spring for high-budget items like cars, iPhones or trips. As a result, teen cliques will become even more aligned based on the economic standing of their parents.
Youth leaders can help their teens gain experience reaching across economic boundaries, by providing youth with opportunities for social action through service projects and missions trips.
These five trends reflect today’s teens’ search for meaning, purpose and authenticity, as well as their adaptability in responding to the opportunities and constraints facing this generation. Keeping a pulse on these trends can help you as strive to move teens toward vibrant, relevant relationships with Jesus.
To learn more about Dare 2 Share Ministries’ teen training conferences and youth ministry resources, click here.