(This is a part of a series: Reaching Teens in a Digital World)

 

This whole series is based on the book, Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World.  I personally think every youth pastor should read this book.  Here is my review,  Reaching Teens in a Digital WorldGrown Up Digital Review.

“The internet has given them the freedom to choose what to buy, where to work, when to do things like buy a book or talk to friends, and even who they want to be.” Don Tapscott

We live in a world where we have more freedom than ever.  The students you work with live in a culture where they have choices.  They have been raise in a culture of freedom.  If you work with students for any amount of time you realize that all that freedom isn’t a great thing.  This generation that we are trying to reach wants flexibility, and freedom in what they choose.  What does this mean for you?

It means building a youth program that doesn’t hinge on a night, but a community that builds online.  A community that allows fringe students to be apart of, even if they don’t want to come out to the group.  It means learning how can you develop leaders on their time?  It means developing leaders online.

In the past we have built youth programs (I am as guilty as any) that is a one size fits all environment.  Well, guess what!  That doesn’t work.  Students today are looking for freedom in school, life, and faith.  As a youth worker we need to reach them where they are at, and reach them in a way that appeals to what they want.  In the book, Grown Up Digital, Don Tapscott states, “Net Geners waht to be able to change their mind.  They are attracted to companies that make it easy to exchange the product for something different or get their money back.”

Here are a few ways I have tried to foster freedom in my youth ministry:

1. Decentralize the youth ministry.  I want the students to connect in the church.  The youth ministry is a means to see that happen, but I would love to see them involved in the body of Christ instead of my little silo.  There are many ways for teens to connect at my church.  They can help serve the homeless, they can play on our softball team, they can attend a camp twice a year, or eventually be apart of a discipleship group.  I would love for all the students I work with to attend my youth group.  For a lot that isn’t possible because of priorities.

2.  Build disciples.  I love seeing students come to know Christ, and then be equipped, and empowered to go and reach their friends.  I have switched a lot of my discipleship training online.  I will meet my student leadership team once a month, but I found they were hungry for more.  They want articles, books, and ways to interact with the content.  The students I work with want to dialogue about their faith on their terms.

How do you foster this key feature of this net generation? 

 

(This is a part of a series: Reaching Teens in a Digital World)

 

  • I totally agree with the need to decentralize the ministry. It does not totally depend on us and we want to see others equipped to minister. Attendance isn’t everything, but it is something. Some of the students at my church are not able to attend the youth ministry, but that usually does not mean that they are heavily involved in other places. In other words, in most cases, if they are not attending the youth ministry, then they are not really attending other things as well. If they are not attending a group smaller than the worship service, then they won’t be connected at the life level.