cbs news piece on youth ministry

well, the cbs news piece on youth ministry did air last night, with my interview in it. i’m feeling ok about it. it’s not a great piece, but it’s ok. the producer in new york had wanted to focus on technology and youth ministry (exactly like the piece ended up), but the west coast correspondant we dealt with seemed to be willing to make it broader than that. in fact, i’d talked quite a bit about how the predominance of technology has played a role — i believe — in the profound responsiveness of teenagers to silence and other counter-tech approaches to faith formation. the correspondant seemed very intrigued by this, and we chatted about it for a while, but it didn’t make it into the piece. i also wish the piece hadn’t gone to the ‘fear’ of kids leaving the church stuff; or, if it had, that they had included my rather fiesty responses to that approach.

would have loved more exposure for YS and who we are. but, heck, now i’m just writing my own news piece, huh?

there are two video pieces available online:
first, the actual 2 minute, 30 second news piece that ran on the evening news.
and second, a 4+ minute segment of inteview with me at our convention.

here’s the text of the news piece, from the cbs website:

Technology Transforms Gospel For Teens
Some Ministers Engage Youth With iPods And Christian-Themed Video Games

ANAHEIM, Calif., Dec. 15, 2006
(CBS) Tens of thousands of kids turn out for praise-filled Christian rock concerts. But does the message stick once the music stops? That’s the challenge facing youth ministers who’ve come to a convention searching for new ways to engage today’s teens, CBS News correspondent Sandra Hughes reports.

“We had some wrong thinking about youth work for a long time, that fun and games and flashiness somehow brought transformation and we’re realizing it really doesn’t,” says Mark Ostreicher of Youth Ministries.

The fears were confirmed with a recent poll, which found that 61 percent of people in their 20s said they had participated in church activities as teens, but no longer do.

“Now we have to rethink and realize that we have to go to them,” Ostreicher says. “We have to find ways to creatively enter the world of a teenager in ways that are more meaningful for them.”

In many churches, the youth minister was a part time or volunteer position. His instruments? A guitar and a bible. But as the convention shows, preaching to kids is a full-time career, requiring sophisticated tools.

Technology is transforming the way gospel is spread — from iPods, which allow teens to listen to the word even when they’re not in church, to video games with Christian themes for kids who want a little Jesus with their joystick. It’s all meant to grab the attention of a generation that gets what it wants, when it wants it.

Youth minister Lincoln Skinner uses every high-tech tool he can find to pull kids in. His high schoolers have a MySpace webpage, where Lincoln drops in with messages about upcoming events.

“We are always on MySpace. We always have our iPods. We always have our cell phones,” says Dylan, a youth group member.

Josh Tynan listens to sermons while he skates. He says attending a traditional service on Sunday can be too nerve wracking.

“During worship, am I raising my hand? Am I singing? Am I standing? Am I too loud? Am I not supposed to be sitting right now?,” Tynan asks.

Tynan’s downloaded sermons, or podcasts, have become a way of life and not a one-time concert event. Using the Internet can make an especially intimate spiritual connection. That’s why observers say “Godcasting,” as it’s called, is catching on.

“When it is just you and God, you know, it’s a lot easier to open your heart to what he has for you,” Tynan says.

It’s a message for many that technology tailors to one.

©MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

8 thoughts on “cbs news piece on youth ministry”

  1. i think it’s a great start – now they know you’re there and you will be amazed at how the doors are going to open when they are truly looking for ‘experts’ on things concerning teens and faith.

    thanks for the link to the interview.

  2. Good exposure, Mark. I especially like the fact that you are “Mark Ostreicher of Youth Ministries.” Didn’t realize you all had cornered the market on that too. :-)

  3. I believe that technology, like just about anything else, can be used for good or evil. My only concern is that there seems to be a growing trend of using technology as a substitute for corporate worship and fellowship (you know, Hebrews 10:25). It’s great to use Godcasting but not if it entirely replaces the church. I don’t mean the church as a building but the people who get together to worship, to help each other remain accountable, who pray together, who share experiences and study together so spiritual growth can have a more widespread impact. I just don’t see MySpace working the way people think as a ministry tool, though I would like to believe it is. Many people on there are just to make friends, comment about random things and even are creating almost a different person than who they are … kind of like escape. I love podcasting, personally, because I can listen to teachings and preachings from all over the world while I am working. I just think we need to be cautious about how we use technology …

  4. Technology is certainly one means for connecting to youth today…and a compelling one. In the end,however,there needs to be the opportunity for developing and nurturing relationships available to kids, and ultimately with God through Jesus.

  5. Hi mate!
    I work for a Christian youth organisation in Australia as a Bible Ministry Consultant – my job being to promote the experience of young people engaging with the Bible. The more I explore the issues of ‘engagement’, the more I believe a technological response on its own is inadequate to address the challenges before us. Yes, I am embracing the opportunites technology developments are providing, but they account for maybe ten percent of what is needed. In my area of interest, issues like Transformational Leadership, Relational Processes, Contemplative Space and Creative Experimentation are more important factors. I’m finding that the distancing effects of technology can be counter-productive in pursuing these goals.
    Bless ya – keep up the good work!

  6. I’m 35 and am amazed at what technology has to offer kids these days. Myspace, podcasts, blogging, etc. with so much information out there. I think that we as the Christian body need to adapt to these changes. We need to come to a level that the kids understand and relate to and not vice versa. Like Christ came down to earth and spoke to us in things that are understandable to us. I think if we have embrace how God can utilize technology today for the youth we can have a mighty global impact. Some kid in another country can download a Godcast and listen to it. This makes global ministry much more of a reality. Although getting the word out to the youth today is just one part of the picture. What about kids looking for spiritual growth? Where do they turn for that? The most obvious thing is their local church. Is the local church providing some sort of bible study? Small group fellowship for discipling? But maybe technology can somewhat help in that area as well. Bible studies are readily available for download. To make an analogy with the business world, if the business has a strong product/service but does not recognize and plan for change it soon becomes obsolete and dies. I’m sure the company that made the first buggy whip was doing well. But over time that buggy whip is nothing more than a musuem artifact being replaced by the automobile. If that company decided not to realize the change in times, they would be forced to go out of business. If we come down to what the kids are into and find creative ways to minister to them I think God would be pleased. Given the Holy Spirit and his guidance on all this since God does allow this technology to be prevelant.

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