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Culture | Leadership

I am a Christ-follower, husband & father. For the past 20+ years I have been married to Terri and all those years been a youth worker! We have 3 boys together and now 1 is actually a teenager, so I believe I am a legit youth worker now that I actually have one living in my house.Currently I am the Pastor of & Student Ministries at Findlay EFC where we have just recently moved to...prior to that I have served churches in MN & IL. I like to Golf, watching Bears & White Sox games or going to my kids events are where you can find me.

If there is one thing I’ve learned over the 19+ years of being in student ministry, it’s that we can never stop being a student. What I mean by that is exactly what Kurt and Josh talked about this week: being a student of the culture around us. So much has changed since I started in the early 1990′s…wow I am old! I don’t know how I would have handled what today’s student deals with in the fast-paced culture we live in. With today’s technology it definitely has helped in packing for trips!

I loved the ideas/tips they shared on how we can connect with the culture of students today. It is vitally important that we understand and know what our students are dealing with in order to minister effectively to them. We will not be able to do this by ignoring and hoping it goes away—or just plain old denying it because we don’t like it. 

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Want to help teenagers build a lasting life of faith?
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Tapping into resources from culture gurus like Walt Mueller and CPYU is also helpful, but my encouragement to us as youth workers is to continue to be a student. Take some of the ideas and put them into practice and see what will fit into who you are as a person. One mistake that I see from youth workers is to be too much like the students they serve in the way they dress, act, etc. in order to be “culturally relevant. 

Do you know how awkward it is to see an overweight youth worker wearing skinny jeans and a mullet at the same time? Be yourself! Don’t conform to the culture around us—rather, be informed about the culture around us. Students want authenticity rather than someone who is just like them and their peers. If you are a younger youth worker and that is your style, great…don’t change. If you are an older, more seasoned youth worker and that is your style, great…don’t change. 

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Want to help teenagers build a lasting life of faith?
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What I am saying is be who God has created you to be and continue to be a learner as you serve students. The message of Jesus Christ does not change, but as we have seen over the years in student ministry, the way we communicate it has changed, and being a student of our culture will help us be better communicators to our students.

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