I’ve been reading a book by Walt Mueller called Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture: Bridging Teen Worldview and Christian Truth. It’s about learning to communicate Jesus in ways to which young generations will respond. Obviously as a pastor of student ministries, that’s an important topic to me, but my prayer is that as a believer in Jesus, it is important to you, too. We should be very concerned with communicating the truth of Jesus with students.
But, in some ways, it’s not as simple as we may think. It’s not enough to just walk up and say “Hey kid, Jesus loves you.” While that statement is definitely true, that approach to revealing the truth often falls on deaf, young ears. In many ways, youth ministry today is cross-cultural missions work. We must work to understand the youth culture that exists today (whether they’ve created it in a kind of generational self-defense or it’s been created for them by marketers) in order to communicate with students who are living in that culture.
If I were to commit my life to ministry with German people, I would need to learn German. If I gave myself to ministry with Venezuelans, I’d need to learn the Spanish language as well as Venezuelan customs, attitudes, and values. I’ve committed to ministry with students, so I need to know what they care about, what shapes their thinking, what drives their hearts and passions…
If you have kids at home, you do too. Take a look away from what fills your world everyday and examine theirs. It may be more different than you think. The youth culture in our country really does operate according to a different set of behaviors and values than previous generations.
I want to challenge you to join me in studying, loving, and reaching students in our valley. Get to know them and their world. Ask questions and really listen to their thoughts. The author of that book is also the director of a ministry called the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding. Their website (www.cpyu.org) may be a great place to start taking a continually updated look at youth culture.