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I am a full-time youth minister in Western Kentucky. I have been in youth ministry for 11 years, mainly in rural areas.

No one wants to be obsolete.

That’s why we buy tablets, smartphones and laptops. We download all the neat apps and keep up with the latest trends. We play games like Flappy Bird and Candy Crush just to see what our students are into. We watch awards shows and keep up with music trends.

As a youth minister, you never want to be obsolete. It’s part of the nature of the beast.

Recently, my friend and I faced a similar decision with our novel. We had written Sheep Among Wolves and worked on it off and on for 15 years. Seeing traditional routes of publishing diminish, we chose self-publishing to control our content and get it out quicker. (You can purchase it here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IRTQ1FE ).

We wanted people to read it and knew digital e-books were the best route. As the e-book revolution (and the saturation of tablets) grows, our book has a better chance of reaching a wider audience. We wanted to be on the cutting edge and not behind the trends.

In youth ministry, that’s an important lesson to learn. We want to be ahead of the trends. It’s so easy to get lost in all the new technology. I’m not even saying you have to have it. (Hey, I don’t own an iPad.) However, you do have to be aware of what’s out there.

While technology and social media is part of that, so is monitoring trends and fads. Music, television, movies, and culture greatly affect the teens we minister to. We must be aware of these things in order to reach them where they are.

I recently did a teaching series called the Walking Dead. Yes, it was a play on the show, but it also highlighted the truth: We are all dead in sin and yet resurrected through the power of Jesus. That series came straight from culture fads. I used it to communicate God’s truth.

So be aware of what’s going on. Then use it to your advantage. In youth ministry, you have to stay ahead of the trends.

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