Youth Ministry: Trending From One Year to the Next

Are you talking with your youth about the latest cultural trends?
Are you talking with your youth about the latest cultural trends? (Facebook)

How do you get students to start serving and affecting their culture in the name of Jesus Christ?

Maybe it begins by being in the loop on past and current trends.

You’ve probably heard all the flashy headlines on Miley Cyrus, Duck Dynasty and more… but what about the more obscure things that reflect the true trends?

For example, Google again sidestepped saying “Merry Christmas” in its on Christmas Day “Google Doodle” in order to take on a more neutral ”Happy Holidays.” Keep in mind, these are the same drawings that will on some days honor everything from the “100th anniversary of the first aviation ‘loop de loop’” to the unique features of a Zamboni. (Admittedly, I do think the game on Dr. Who’s 50th Anniversary was quite fantastic.)

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Maybe this is only news, but I bring it up as an example that illustrates trends in our culture. An L.A. Times article summarized a recent poll on the subject:

A majority of Americans — 67 percent — say that they prefer people to say “Merry Christmas,” with only 18 percent saying that they’d rather hear “Happy holidays,” according to a new Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll. (Another 15 percent say that they’re indifferent, or would rather people not say anything. Grinches!)

However, when poll results were broken down by age, the numbers shifted.

“Support for ‘Happy Holidays’ is greatest among young people: 30 percent of Americans under the age of 30 say that they’d rather hear the more neutral greeting,” according to the poll results. By comparison, only 15 percent of people age 60 and older preferred that neutral greeting.

All that said, the traditional holiday greeting is still preferable by both the young and the less young.

The poll found that 58 percent of Americans ages 18-29 and 70 percent of Americans age 60 and older still prefer “Merry Christmas.”

Again, that’s one example—the real thing to look for is how the emerging generation has its own share of trends that will only continue without Christian teens serving and speaking into it.

So here’s the lesson …

Read 2 Timothy 4:1-8 with your youth. Ask what they think this challenge means and why it’s in the Bible. Brainstorm ways their peers or culture tries to get us to not care about something like we used to or water down our beliefs.

Talk about the Google’s “Christmas/Happy Holidays” Doodle as an example. Take a poll in the room of how many people prefer “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays.”

Ask which expression they think their friends or family prefer and why.

Explore other trends with students from 2013. Look for some appropriate ones to talk about through these social media websites(these will show things you may not want to go into, so preview and select your topics with sensitivity to your church and through the Holy Spirit). See if students can identify why certain things were popular this past year and how these topics might look in five years if their generation doesn’t serve culture by speaking truth and offering Jesus Christ into it. Click on these links to find subjects to talk about:

Facebook’s “The Most Talked About in 2013

Twitter’s top tweets in 2013

Yahoo and Tumblr”s most popular in 2013

Tumblr’s Year in Review

Instagram’s top photos and trends in 2013

One photo that sums up the trends

Circle back to 2 Timothy 4:1-8 and debrief how if the conversation you just had did or didn’t honor this passage.What do you think? How would this go over with your students or in your church? Would you do anything differently?

Tony Myles is a youth ministry veteran, author, speaker, volunteer youth worker and lead pastor of Connection Church in Medina, Ohio.

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