One of the things I believe every student pastor should do is study the culture of their students. But this shouldn’t be the task of just student pastors, but the task of every adult that works with teens and most importantly parents of teens. I am writing this blog mostly for parents of teens, but I do believe it will be of great help to student pastors and youth workers as well. Just as we expect missionaries going into a foreign country to study and learn the culture of that country, we should expect parents, student pastors, and youth workers to study the foreign culture they are going into-teen culture. If we wish to be effective at parenting teenagers, pastoring teenagers, or working with teenagers to see Christ change their life, we must be students of their culture. We must understand what their culture is all about, what makes them do the things they do, and what current struggles they are facing day-to-day.
This is a task that seems daunting and often times overwhelming, but with the right resources it shouldn’t be. There has been a few resources that have greatly helped me understand teen culture and I believe they will help you as well. I want to share a few of them with you in this blog.
CPYU Youth Culture Update. This by far is one of the best resources when it comes to staying on top of teen culture. It’s a weekly email from Center of Parent/Youth Understanding that includes numerous things such as news articles on teen culture, list of top movies and songs, music and movie reviews, and much more. I would encourage you to sign up to receive this weekly email.
Homeward’s Culture Brief. This is another weekly email from Azusa Pacific University’s Homeward Center for Youth and Family. Much like the CPYU email, this is another weekly email that includes tons of material on teen culture. The reason I like Homeward’s Culture Brief is because it usually has some of the best articles on current teen trends and research. It also always has a list of top songs, movies, YouTube video’s, Google searches, websites, and TV shows. This is another great email I would encourage you sign up to receive.
The Youth Culture Report. This is a tool I am going to more and more when I want to see what’s going on in teen culture. The Youth Culture Report keeps up with news articles, trends, and media that deals with teens. You will find everything from the latest CNN news article on something that happened with a group of teens to articles on the latest trends in music teens are listening to. This tool has it all! Also, one good think about this tool is that it’s not only a website, but they have an iPhone and iPad app so you can use it on the go.
These are just a few of the many tools I use on a regular basis to stay current with teen culture.
Before I end this post, I want to share something very important on this topic. Last week I was having lunch with a few student pastors and one of them said something along these lines: “You can see the real picture of who a teen is by looking at their tweets.” This reminded me of something very important, the best way to be learn about teen culture is through social media. Pay attention to teens on Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites. By watching their presence and actions on social media, you can begin to understand their culture.
Remember, the end goal of studying teen culture is reaching teens with the Gospel and helping them live a Biblical-centered life. Don’t just study their culture so you can know about it, studying their culture so you can better minister to them.