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?
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.