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Five Trends Kids Aren’t Blinking At. . . But Should.

When you’re born into something, you don’t notice it. It’s normal. It’s always been there. You know nothing different. You don’t question it. You accept it. And when someone comes along who does question it. . . well. . . that rattles your world and you think the questioner is nuts. That’s certainly the way it is with the youth culture soup kids are swimming in today. There’s stuff in there that wasn’t around when those of us who are older were adolescents. But it’s always been there for our kids.

Even as I sit here in a beachfront coffee bar writing this post, I’m reminded of just how true this is. I’m overhearing a conversation between a lady on the couch across the room (can’t help it. . . she’s talking loudly!) who’s lamenting a young adult’s behavior with someone on the other end of her cell phone. “How could he be so stupid?!?” she just yelled out loud. “Doesn’t he know that it’s wrong for him to be married to you and then he goes and posts a picture of himself half-naked with some other woman on the Internet?!?” My guess is that the guy who posted that photo never stopped to consider all the issues related to his behavior. Maybe it’s even normal and right in his little world.

As we hit the halfway point of the summer and you jump into the fall planning mode, start thinking now about how you will take time during the year to intentionally address, talk about, and pound home (over and over and over again) God’s will and way on these five trends that have become just a normal part of life for your kids. . . .

1. Social Media Narcissism. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. But when using those sites to create, curate, promote, and sell one’s self. . . that’s narcissism. It’s idolatry. We need to teach our kids how to use social media to the glory of God, not self.

2. Relativism. We live in a world where kids are encouraged to develop, figure out, and act on the truth that works for them based on how they feel at any given moment in time. If it works for you, well then go for it. Fact is, that’s a recipe for personal, communal, and societal disaster. Let them know that God has gifted us with His will and way. There is such a thing as transcendent truth.

3. Cohabitation. Marriage is in deep, deep trouble. The days of “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage” are long gone. Even our Christian kids are opting to get it all out of order. Teach a Biblical order for love, sex, and marriage through your words and actions. Chances are they aren’t hearing it anywhere else.

4. Tolerance. I will be the first to admit that we need a little more appreciation for the great diversity that God has placed in His world. In addition, we need to show a whole lot more love and grace to those who might think and act differently. The church hasn’t done a good job of that in recent years. Now, the pendulum is swinging in the opposite direction. When tolerance runs amok we wind up promoting, celebrating, serving, and spreading the kingdom of the world, the flesh and the devil. . . not the Kingdom of God.

5. Marketing and Consumerism. Each of us sees multiple thousands of marketing messages a day. Talk about swimming in something so much that we don’t notice it anymore! Each of those ads sells both product and a way of looking at/living life. I believe that in today’s world, marketing shapes us more than anything else. Ads promise redemption, wholeness, and satisfaction. But we know it can never deliver. Why then, do we buy into their messages and manipulation? Teach your kids to think critically and Christianly about ads.

Go ahead now. . . rattle your kids. . . even if they think you’re nuts!

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4 Responses to Five Trends Kids Aren’t Blinking At. . . But Should.

  1. rhender14 July 13, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    Walt,

    You wrote, “I believe that in today’s world, marketing shapes us more than anything else.” I am inclined to believe this as well and it seems like something worth further reflection. Can you recommend any resources that expound how marketing has shaped the way we see ourselves?

    Thanks,
    Rodney

  2. dcking5 July 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    Very helpful – Added to the Leadership and Youth Ministry Magazine (thanks) – http://t.co/FpNzPmOdVH

  3. Walt Mueller July 15, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    Rodney. . . I’ve got an entire chapter on marketing in my book, “Youth Culture 101.” We’ve also got some stuff on our site at cpyu.org. I’m having one of our handouts updated now and when it’s done I’ll blog on it here and include a link to it so that you can use it as a resource!

  4. John Berard July 21, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    Rodney … in addition to Walt’s chapter you could check out the book Consuming Youth: leading teens through consumer culture (we’ve included some great questions for reflection as well – facebook.com/consumingyouth).

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