Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Phony Tactic Or An Authentic Interest? - My struggle with "relevancy" (or Part five of Questions From the Lifehouse Youth Group)

I had a brief but difficult time deciding whether to make this an extension of the previous post or a part in the youth group series. I have decided to do both.

I'm over a decade older than the kids in my youth group. Even though I don't feel old and out of touch (except once when a college student called Wayne's World a "classic movie" as if it belonged on TCM), I realized something one day: I have little to no idea of what my kids are like outside of our meetings. I know one guy loves metal. You should have seen the other kids when he walked in wearing his Job For A Cowboy T-shirt. I know one of the girls likes Journey and Zooey Deschanel. Some of them play basketball. From there on, I'm pretty much clueless.

And like Francis Schaeffer said, shouldn't I know their culture? So instead of complaining about it, I've given a look or a listen to nearly everything they mention. I managed to get through a whole episode of Jersey Shore before I decided I got the gist of it. Glee is a little easier to stomach than the reality shows, but I only like characters in wheelchairs.

This goes beyond pop culture. Sometimes they mention stuff going on in religious culture, but I pretty feel the same way I did about Thousand Foot Krutch when they first formed ten years ago.

I feel like I should keep up with my youth group because I want to know how they think. I want to know where they get their ideas. I want to know what issues they have. I want to take all of this and help them understand why the gospel matters for them in their day-to-day lives.

At the same time, I want to do everything in my power to avoid ending up like this guy, especially when my kids might ask themselves those types of questions.

If you work with kids, or have kids of your own, how do you learn about their culture? I'm up for some pointers.


Joe said...

I don't worry about their culture too much. I worry about them. I mean, I stay up on the stuff they are interested in as a means to know what is important to them. In my opinion, people don't really care how relevant you are to the stuff they like. They care about how much you care about them. When they realize that your interest in their things (TV, writing, music, etc)is grounded in your interest and concern for them you are more than relevant, you are transformative.

Isaiah Kallman said...

Exactly. I want to know what matters to them because I care about them. As far as using culture to look or talk like them? Forget it.

Parroting culture is why we have the ten year lag in Christian music. But that might be another topic altogether.