Understanding Youth Culture


As an expert in working with adolescents, people often look to me as an expert in understanding youth culture today.  I do what I can to stay “up” on the key dynamics that are happening throughout “youth culture” in our country and our region.  Sometimes this is fun and entertaining.  At other times it is disheartening and soul-crushing.  It is always interesting.  I guess it is always interesting to me because people are interesting to me.  And young people, adolescents in particular, are really interesting to me.

Which brings me to the point of my post.

If you have a heart and a passion for blessing teens, keeping up with “youth culture” can be a helpful pursuit.  But it isn’t necessary.  You read that correctly.  IT ISN’T NECESSARY TO KNOW ALL THE CURRENT TEEN TRENDS TO EFFECTIVELY TOUCH, INSPIRE, AND LEAD ADOLESCENTS.  So, what is necessary?

1. Compassionate Listening.

2. Loving Acceptance.

3. Non-Reactivity.

4. Confident Integrity.

5. Persistence.  Persistence.  Persistence.

I have seen volunteer youth workers who know nothing about texting, MySpace, Facebook, Halo 3, YouTube, or any popular music since 1973 make tremendous differences in the lives of teens.  I have seen teens flock to them with respect and adoration, despite their woefully inadequate knowledge of Youth Culture Today.  Why?  Because they were authentic.  Because they were open and honest.  Because they really stood for something.  And because they were passionately, persistently committed to loving these kids for who they were, where they were.

Want to gain an understanding of youth culture that will really make a difference?  Start with the adolescent right there in your living room or church lobby or neighborhood.  Ask genuine questions.  Really listen to her answers.  Show her you are really curious about HER, not “kids today.”  Tell him your stories.  Show him you aren’t going to freak out when he does freaky things.  Let him experience your radical love for HIM, not for the latest trends and stats among his so-called peers.

And may God bless you with HDTV!  (click tab above for more on HDTV)


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