Teenagers. Thirsty. Dehydrated. Searching. Desperate. Dying. Mirages. Overhead. Circling. Observing. Culture Vultures! These birds of prey are waiting until Generation Z’s fantasy world blurs reality. They can then descend and feast on the morals and standards of those lost in an identity crisis. It is time for youth ministries to accept their calling as online missionaries and Ambassadors of Christ in the forums and chat rooms of the virtual world.
The culture vultures are using the internet to prey on this generation through pornography, bullying, sexting, peer pressure, etc. Even a faithful Christian teenager spends ___ % at church a week and ____ % online a week. Most Pastors think in terms of physical and spiritual. The virtual world has its own language, culture, and rules. It’s time for leaders to enter the glowing rectangles with the light of Christ.
Jesus had a forerunner named John the Baptist who prepared the way for Christ by telling people about him and baptizing them. He created expectation. In order for us to prepare the way for people to hear about our Savior, we need to utilize our voice, not be consumed with self-image and have actions that reflect Jesus. Below are some ways that we can create an expectation with our virtual followers.
1. Filter Control – Emojis are Generation Z’s version of “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” One aspect of leadership is the ability to cast vision in a way that people are willing to follow. Like an emoji conveys emotion, we must convey a clear picture to our online congregants of what the heart of our ministry is about. If a social media post doesn’t line up with the heartbeat of your church, then delete it. Filter your social media to glorify Jesus and draw people to him. Your social media is a direct reflection of the culture of your youth ministry to all who follow you from teens, visitors, and parents.
2. Digital Influencers – Create a team of teenagers that can be developed as digital influencers, photographers, videographers, bloggers and journalists for your youth ministry. A social media ministry can be as important as your greeters. Train them how to use this wonderful skill set for the benefit of virtually savvy followers.
Here is an example of a timeline.
- Monday – Inspirational Word of Encouragement from Youth Pastor
- Tuesday – Promo for Youth Night Activities & Announcements
- Wednesday – Friendship Invitation Encouragement
- Thursday – Youth Night Recap Video/Humor
- Friday – Testimony of the Week/Spiritual Encouragement
- Saturday – Church Attendance promotion
- Sunday – Sabbath
3. Spiritual Currency – The last thing that Jesus told Peter was to feed his sheep. Utilizing virtual and social media platforms, we gain the opportunity to give spiritual currency to those looking for new life. We can put sermons on Youtube, insight on Twitter, life application on Facebook and inspiration on Instagram. None of this compares with face to face conversations, but giving free spiritual currency will let teens know where to find encouragement and spiritual substance online.
4. Bible Revival – Utilize a youth service to train your teenagers on how to use a bible app. Show them how to highlight scriptures, find commentaries, write notes, etc. Bring back Bible Drills. Have each teen sit with their phone off until the scripture is called, then as teens find it, they stand and the first one to read it in its entirety wins. When personal Bible reading becomes part of your youth culture, they will be able to bring it easier into their own lives.
As we live in a digital age, we can be comforted that Jesus loved to go where people lived to reveal his love and God’s plan for their lives. The great commission is just as powerful in the virtual world, as it is in reality. It’s time to save this generation from the culture vultures. The best is yet to come!
— Jaycee Jennings
Jaycee is a generational specialist with 28 years of experience including Camp/Conference Director, Bible College Instructor, and Evangelist. He lives in Dallas, Texas with his beautiful wife Anna and three amazing children Zach, Micah & Malea. If you would like to contact him firstname.lastname@example.org