My life and my thoughts - on faith, culture, politics, whatever comes to my mind

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Let you entertain me!

Isn’t there a song by R*obbie Williams where he sings “let me entertain you”? At least it popped into my head when I thought about this post. Another post about youth ministry … ;). Last Friday I had lunch with my friend Erin who is a youth pastor (and she is a really good one) and, as so often when we have lunch or coffee together, we talked about youth ministry. Erin and some of our youth are just back from a conference in Stockholm which must have been awesome. It was truly good for our teens. So this post is not about my church’s youth ministry or big conferences, but more about everyday youth work in general and youth retreats/camps.

Personally I think that among today’s youth we very often encounter the entertainment mentality. It goes something like this: I am coming to youth group – so you have to entertain me! Young people are deeply immersed in our current entertainment culture. It’s everywhere: there’s fast movies, video clips, MTV, parties, concerts, … you name it. The attention span gets shorter and attention is often only spurred by fast/loud/very colored/… incentives. So the danger is there: if youth group is not hip, it is out. Youths might not come anymore.

But do we want our youth groups to be hip? Do we want to entertain? Do we need to have movie clips, video games, computer graphics? Do we need to have special speakers for retreats and maybe even a band? None of this in itself is bad, so don’t get me wrong. But I worry if it gets too much or if the motivation is to entertain – so that while entertaining them, we might slip in the gospel…

When I was in youth groups or a leader a camps and retreats, it was different. We prepared the bible studies ourselves and of course we tried to make them entertaining – in the sense of involving the youths, having discussions, write their own little play and act, painting, writing songs, … We sang a lot. But we didn’t have a band, we just had one or two guitars and a song folder we assembled our-selves… It was surely not hip and probably some were bored. But a lot of teens really enjoyed it, loved to discuss and be creative. Somehow I cannot imagine that the youths now (though 12-15 years younger than I) have changed that much. Are really only an entertainment-generation. I am convinced we could still have meaningful retreats and camps and youth groups even if the way we had them was more involving and more simple.