Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Youth Ministry and Culture: An Introduction

Well friends, this blog is about youth ministry and writing, so here's our first real post in that direction. I've been reading Niebuhr's book Christ and Culture recently, and it's really helped me get started thinking about youth ministry and the wider youth culture can and should relate. Here's a possible introduction for an extended article:

Youth ministers are forever watching, analysing and copying secular youth culture. This isn’t a fundamentally good thing, or a fundamentally bad thing. It is simply a necessary part of the job. Youth ministers are frequently aware that be they 25 or 55, they no longer inhabit the same cultural sphere as a 13 year old. Whilst it mustn’t be overstated, there is some degree of cultural remoteness between youth ministers and those they lead. Thus, to effectively bring the light of Christ and the word of the gospel to teenagers, youth ministers become students of youth culture. Many youth ministers pause to take in the nuts and bolts of youth culture, such as musical styles, technological trends, and linguistic variety. However, fewer youth ministers stop to consider their fundamental stance toward youth culture and the theological foundation, if any, for that stance. Is youth culture something that needs to transform and inform the church in order to serve the youth of today? Is youth culture so full of evil that Christians must come out and be separate from it? Or is youth culture essentially good, whilst being tainted by sin, and in need of redemption? Wether we have thought about it or not, our answer to these questions will fundamentally shape that nature of the youth ministry we pursue. Wether we have thought about it or not, the way we answer these questions must be theologically grounded.

I'd love some feedback. Does the intro seem clear? Is it interesting? Does it make you want to read more? Does it raise an issue for you in youth ministry?


Pastor Trish said...

i'm not sure if you'll approve of my response but as a youth minister shouldn't it be your job to "sanitize" youth culture. i mean the catholics "sanitized" every thing pagan in order to reach the people. however in doing so you may lose the effectiveness or should you take the approach Christ took and just be real and blunt with the youth so they know black is black and white is white and in the kingdom few things are gray.

Chris said...

Thats a good article introduction! I'd be keen to read the rest of what you have to say!

Tim Roediger said...


I think you're right that some form of culture sanitization needs to happen. It think that's what Niebuhr would label 'Christ Transforming Culture'. As far as black and white goes, your right that there are many things that are black and white, but I think that there are lots of things that are gray in the kingdom also. When teaching kids morals and ethics, I'm keen to teach them Christ-like virtue, wisdom and integrity so they know how to live in situations we may have never talked about at youth group. Cheers.


Thanks for your encouragement. Other pieces of the article have been written, but I'm still thinking about it in my head. I don't quite know what I'll eventually say, or when it will be finished. This post was more about trying out my writing skills. :)

from Tim

CJ said...

I like what I see...and keen to read more! Press on!

St Matts Youth

-bw said...

Hi Tim,

I like this as an intro. It's clear and interesting, and it makes me want to read more.

keep up the good work.

Kurt Johnston said...

I read that book about 15 years ago. It really made me think then, and I look forward to the rest of your article.

Where do I stand on the subject? I'm not sure...I tend to think that God doesn't fit in any of the boxes comfortably.