Sunday, October 5, 2008

Why Should We Study Kids' Culture??

Yesterday was a day full of encouragement and fun at the children's ministry conference. There were five of us from our church and I'm sure we all came away with something different. We didn't plan it this way, but we had someone at the conference for almost each aspect of our children's ministry. Naturally, we each listened for, and sought out, ideas that we could use in our own areas.

Isn't the body of Christ neat? God uses each of our gifts and interests to compliment and complete the whole.

The theme for the day was creating a Faith that Grows in our children. That really is the goal of any healthy children's ministry, isn't it? And yet, where do we start? How do we go about it? The conference gave us 21 "Seeds" to plant, that, Lord willing, will encourage the kind of growing faith each child needs.

I want to share two "Seeds" with you today.

The first was the notion that we should study Kid Culture. Study it, they said. If you are anything like me, I'm constantly saying to my boys, what are you watching (on that TV)? Is it good? Do you need to change the channel? Are you sure? I give it half an ear while I'm cooking in the kitchen or catching up with my work, but I seldom sit down and watch their programs with them. Who has time? More often than not, my comment is, "Would you please turn that down?"

So when the conference leader suggested we study kid culture, my first thought was, really? Aren't we just supposed to monitor their intake for crude language and inappropriate material? Do I really have to sit down and watch what they are watching?? I can think of a million things I'd rather be doing than watching, say, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody on the tube with them. How could their TV interests possibly be relevant to my ministry at church? What does it matter?

But, before I answer that, studying kid culture is even more than that. It's getting to know, on a broader scale, the most prominent things which have influence on children in today's culture--the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Take a look at the Top Ten "Influences" as presented at the conference:
  • Hannah Montana
  • High School Musical (same Disney link)
  • Avril Lavigne ??(Does anyone know what/who this is? Every time I try to open a site to explore it, my computer locks up! Hmmmmm)
  • Naked Brothers Band "fully dressed, and on tour" ?? (I don't know much about this, either.)
  • TV/Internet access: Most children actually have this in their bedrooms!
  • 25% of all children multitask as a way of life.
  • XBox, Wii, PlayStation 3 (in the order of their popularity)
  • When asked to list their heroes in the order of their favorites, children listed their moms first most often, with dads being the second most common top pick.
  • Children, lots of them, have weight and diet control issues.
  • 70% of parents say they are effective in making spiritual growth happen, but something like only 20% are actively involved in regular church attendance.

You know, there were things on that list I couldn't even pronounce. But, kid culture is being influenced nonetheless by these things. Even if our children have no access to some them at home, you can bet their friends are talking about them at school.

When you work with children, you have to make a connection with them, which is the second "Seed", and the answer to "What does it matter?"

How can you make a connection if you don't know anything about their world? How can you break God's Word down and help them apply it to their lives, if you don't know what they're dealing with?

I'm afraid we have our work cut out for us in researching and staying current with kid culture. But watching some of their programs, reading kids magazines, and doing a little Internet research will help a lot when it comes to making connections with kids and helping them to understand the implications of God's Word in their lives. Using real life parables they can relate to really can help them develop a stronger faith. They made a believer out of me! I'm on somewhat of a mission now to get to know a little about some of the things on this list.

If you have first hand knowledge related to any of the things on the list, I'd love to hear it!

1 comment:

me said...

She's a pop singer. Her official website brings up a ton of graphics and blasts music. Your internet probably just can't handle it.

Keep up the great work! You're my favorite blogger.