Multempire - Thoughts on Youth Ministry

Clearing YM Noise Away

Posts tagged Culture

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Christian - Y U No Post Memes? Translation - Why Don't Christians Discuss Memes?

To see a collection of Christian Themed Memes Click Title or Click HERE.

I don’t know if Christians are aware of a conversation taking place on the internet.  The conversation is primarily visual, involves lots of laughter, is challenging and often evokes gut reactions, and is often denigrating to believers of Christ.  I did notice, however that these conversations are full of misunderstandings and misconceptions, and if there are no Christians involved in the conversation, and providing a voice of love and compassion in this world, there will be no gains or healing.  This conversation is done in the form of MEMES.

Memes are humor based one or two liners that are associated with an image that grabs attention.  Our culture is becoming incredibly visual in the internet age.  The person who said an image is worth a thousand words is probably understating their importance today.  The visual is the message in these cases.  They evoke an emotion or a feeling or a familiarity associated with pop culture.  The consumer reads the image and wants to learn more, so they read the words – placed in often unattractive yet attention grabbing white fonts.

If you still don’t know what a meme is, check out the lolcat memes at http://icanhascheezburger.com/. That is a generally inoffensive meme place, where people share funny photos of cats saying funny things.  There really is no point but entertainment there.

My point comes into play at the philosophical level, where young people, adept at using computers, are using their time to make arguments using memes – and these memes spread on social media sites, or are googled, etc.  They go viral, and people nod their heads in laugh, but they’re only seeing one side of the argument.  In fact, I’ve found that in their mini-debates, fallacy in argument seems to be the rule.  If you build up a “straw man” enemy (the weakest argument by your weakest opponent), and tear it down easily, you win.

I do wonder, if there were more intelligent (yet humorous) Christian memes out there, speaking truth in clever ways, would the dialogue change towards (1) Honest Dialogue (2) More Truth Seeking (3) A Spirit of Charity (4) Less Vulgarity on the interwebs?  I wonder.  Though I’m not holding my breath, and I have found it hard to sit down myself and think through appropriate yet insightful memes, I have found some interesting ones that talk to the Christian Experience, or communicate old messages in new ways (in the gallery below – feel free to click through).  I have found them all through the net and many of them have no attributions, so I apologize for not linking.  They have been passed around quite a bit.

In my thoughts I have struggled with the question, “Why don’t Christian’s Laugh?”  - as much, especially when it comes to our own failures in faith.  I understand that our walks are serious, and as Christians we have a huge amount of responsibility (in which we have often failed), but in all honesty, God made us as humans ‘like’ God, not as gods.  We err, and for some reason, laughter is a form of healing which we need, and often breaks the ice for more serious discussion and growth.

It is a hard subject though, because pop images and modern assumptions are not evenly spread in the minds of people.  Not everyone gets a reference to emo glasses used in images, or of Indiana Jones or Chuck Norris quotes being used as propellants for a hidden truth.  There is the possibility of offense, so I do walk lightly here.  The intention of all this is not to offend, but to get people thinking about what is already going on.

I do not recommend just googling “Christian Meme” without you realizing that most memes out there are people who have obviously taken a strong anti-Christian stance and often communicate it in vile and venomous ways.  It is a wild west kind of culture, and there are literally no rules right now.  That is because it comes out of the “trolling” anonymity of the internet.

But that is why I believe that good, well written and made Christian memes could add a new dimension, and perhaps one day eclipse the ridiculousness of the culture. Speak truth in love,  in a way that others will understand, and perhaps you will see God move in the hearts of people.  And you may see discipleship start with a few chuckles, as long as we point to the depth of understanding and wisdom that a life devoted truly to Christ can offer.

Here are some that I’ve found.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

christian-why-u-no-post-memes-thumbDwight-2Peter3v91Hipster Cat Sin
Jesus Meme Luke 6 29JEsus BabyKeanu-Fasting
Golden rulesuccess-kid-healingJesus Got it Meme
tumblr_m10wbhXCck1rr8sgoo1_400success-kid-contextinternet-memes-i-saved-you-before-you-sinned

Church Table and Chairs meme

Filed under Christian Meme Conversation Youth Ministry Humor Life Living Love Candid Culture Critique

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I ran across this video on facebook (and I’ll note that there is some profanity in it).  Basically, a father, who is an IT Specialist found out that his daughter was being ungrateful (not an uncommon teenage phenomenon).  He was blocked from her account, but was able to figure out what she was posting regardless - it wasn’t good.  Her father decided to read her note about her Parents on Youtube. It is not yet a phenomenon, and it may never become one because I think that parents are mixed.

(1) Should parents embarrass their children for their selfish moments?  So publically?

(2) What is a response of Love? How are the parents modeling how you deal with situations?

It is obvious that this is how parents feel everywhere.  They don’t feel valued, they don’t feel like they are making progress, and they are hurting.  This dad is letting his steam go in a public forum.  I doubt this will have a positive result - especially if millions end up watching it.  I also wonder how her friends are responding to this.  Teens are not good with someone who has been marked as a national pariah.  May not be good.

Parents - I know that parenting sucks sometimes.  Much of the time.  But your good work and your good modeling of adult behavior is the single most influential pillar in your child’s life.  Think about how you deal with their behavior, be on the same page as your spouse or other guardians.  And take away the laptop - sell it on ebay - no need to shoot it with exploding rounds!  :D

Filed under Fed Up Father Teenager Teens Ungratefulness Youth Ministry Youth Life Culture Response Wow

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It would have been hard to avoid watching Rebecca Black’s youtube video sensation (infamous as it was) “Friday”, which was likely one of the strangest videos to go viral. The song was literally about the days of the week, and then had a strange ending with teens “Partying” aka, riding in a convertible car and jumping up and down.  The video was eventually taken down due to the overwhelming bad vibe that had gone out to Rebecca who is a young girl after all.

Today she released a new song “My Moment” (watch above), in which she talks a bit about the experience and how she feels like this is now “her moment” since everyone is now looking at her.  The good news is that the video is not bad at all.  It is still highly 

produced, but it is light years beyond what was produced earlier.  If you watch the video yourself, you will see that good people have come alongside her and helped her revamp her image quite a bit.  There are choreographers, great outfits, smiles, less wooden 

movements, well written music, and she sings like most pop stars do now in the electronic fashion.

Watch and see for yourself.  I’m glad that Rebecca Black is coming out of her “blacklisting”.  Will your youth give her another chance. It will be interesting to see how much grace factors into this.  In entertainment, is there forgiveness for odd events?


Filed under Rebecca Black My Moment Music Pop Pop Music Culture REdo Grace Forgiveness Entertainment Youth Ministry Youth Culture Culture

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Gizmodo points out a Study: We Feel We Need More Than One Screen to Watch Television (Power of Relationships) (Click for Full Article)

Apparently it isn’t enough to watch one screen these days.  Gizmodo points out that we feel like we need to watch TV and talk about it with others at the same time.  So Twitter, facebook, and other social media sites are augmenting how we experience entertainment in our own living room.  OK - That was obvious.  Just look at all the Youth Ministers chatting away on Twitter (Me - @dannonhill for instance). 

This is nothing new for us, but take a minute to picture your kids.  They have a laptop on one side with their report being edited, an ipad with their source books loaded, and texting and replying on facebook while watching American Idol. 

Ok - that’s a bit extreme, but it happens.  How does this affect them personally?  We know that they are strung out and that they have a hard time winding down for the night.  They get texts while sleeping.  How can you help them develop healthy tech habits?  In our youth group we have had parents take away tech over and over because of lowering grades being a direct result of stress from tech and constant connect.

Somehow we need to model good tech use.  Talk about it with your kids with you hang out.  Show them how to turn off their phones.  Tell a story about how you limit yourself and have discipline…be the role model you know you want to be.  Good luck bros and sisters of tech and YM.

Filed under technology phones screens gizmodo culture ipad television networks youth ministry youth culture youth

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Willow Smith of “I Whip My Hair Back and Forth" fame (which we can admit was a really fun and catchy video, has released a new video (announced by MTV here). 

It is titled “21st Century Girl”.  The video starts with Willow being brought to life by some sort of magic by an old African woman in the desert.  She immediately tells the audience that she is here to have fun, have no rules, and she is going to do what she wants.

The imagery depicts strength, creativity, wealth, and the development of large communities.

The idealism is very Western - in that it is almost Imperialistic.  Willow and a gang of girls having fun pull chains and pull Skyscrapers out of the Sand - While having a blast. 

The ease of strength is scary.  Why? It ignores the thousands of workers that would take to build a city.  In one sense it is empowering, in the other it enables a dominant powerful position over the earth.

On an asides - most youth groups are trying to help structure kids and teens lives.  Families are struggling to find their own hierarchy as entertainment dislodges Parents as viable authorities (ex. Parents being corrected constantly by kids in Disney’s shows). This video, if picked up popularly picked up by young children and teens, will validate their idea that they are the center of the universe. 

Biblically, this generation is looking more and more like the generation that grew up in the age of King Solomon.  The kingdom of Israel was large, secure, and wealthy.  When Solomon took over, his son Rahoboam took over with his young advisers.  They advised Rahaboam to work the people harder to generate even greater things at a time when the people needed rest.  The older people who built the nation and knew what it meant to run an army, die on the battlefield, and build the Temple with their own sweat knew that this was bad - and the Nation split in two. Israel and Judah. 

The issue is entitlement and the feeling of power beyond your means.  This video portrays that vividly. 

Filed under Willow Willow Smith Music Video Culture resource life imperialism egocentrism western ideals youth ministry review critique

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Wow - This is pretty powerful.  Grammy Award Winners Arcade Fire’s new Album “The Suburbs” are being complimented by a 30 Minute Short Video by Spike Jonze.  This is a five minute music video preview of that film. The scenes depict suburban life pretty closely and really work to make you feel what it is like to FEEL like a teen today.  The bikes, the pranks, the boredom, the anger, the relationships, the loneliness and the violence that they mimick. The eerie scene of a Police Squad in a “quiet” suburban neighborhood is all too real.  A definite must watch.

Filed under Video Relating youth ministry powerful teens suburbia Arcade Fire Grammy culture The Suburbs Spike Jonze Short Film Music Video Short

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Leadership: Perception and the Art of Youth Ministry

If you are a youth minister, you are also likely into technology and keeping up with the newest trends, games, etc that your youth are getting into.  Because we live in this world we probably talk about our phones, the apps and games we play, and we are proud of how technically competent we are in this realm.  This can be a downer when we realize that “techie” also means that you are the go to “Tech” fix guy/gal when something breaks in the offices.

Regardless, a recent incident in my (Dan’s) work life highlighted the need to know how others perceive the youth minister. 

Day 1 - I talked with a staff member about all my apps.  I especially highlighted how I play an online Battle RPG and colead a clan of 150 fighters from across the globe.  Something I do in my down time. 

Day 2 - I was in staff meeting, taking notes on Notepad during the meeting for later reference.  I also periodically check my emails to see if a student or parent has sent any forms in. That same staff member was directly across from me and could see me widdling away on the keyboard of my phone during the meeting.

Day 3 - I sat at lunch in the break room at church and sat across from the staff member.  I had my phone out, and she noted my games again.  I realized that her only reference to my phone had been that I play games on it.  I immediately hit the nail head on and said, “I just realized I’ve only shown you my games, but did you know I do just about everything on my phone now?”  We had a whole conversation about how my phone is a computer.  I made sure to mention that I never play games during staff meetings, and highlighted Evernote, Dropbox, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and everything I use for efficiency and youth contact work. 

She actually said she had thought that perhaps I wasn’t paying attention to the meeting, which would have made me look unprofessional.  As a youth minister in a field not often understood, to look unprofessional is a serious black eye. 

Not that we have to look like lawyers or keep an eye out 24/7 - but in order to be taken seriously, we have to let people know we are serious about what we do.  As a seminary trained youth minister with working in youth ministry for a good while now - the last thing I need to be seen as is the goofball who doesn’t think what everyone else’s thoughts and ideas are important. 

We are ministers of God building the Kingdom!  This is serious (if not extremely awesome) work to be doing.  We should see ourselves as God’s ambassador’s to all people in our church.  We should build bridges between the old, medium and young. 

Have you ever realized you had accidentally become the goofball YM?

Filed under Professinalism youth ministry Perception leadership relationships technology games culture church staff

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News Report of a 9 year old who received pictures of Graphic Sex on his Phone.  The sender claimed he was trying to sell the couch in the picture, but as the mother of the 9 year old says, if that’s what he had to do to sell it he must be desperate.

Two serious issues here.  (1) Our culture is definitely getting more sexualized and pornography is becoming more accepted, which may be a leading factor in this “mistake”.  (2) Should 9 year olds have cell phones?  Basically parents are giving their kids computers in their hands connected to the internet and anyone who wishes to text them (or by accident). 

Some serious questions are presented here.  How can our culture bring itself under control and responsibility?  Mistakes like this are serious matters and self control in the first place would help everyone with a phone.  Also, how old do you wait to give your child a cell phone?  Parents may think it makes their child more accessible in emergencies, but it also opens them up to other possible harms including bullying, sexting and pornography addiction.

How do you talk to your youth about the good and bad of technology?

Filed under sexting news texting 9 year old technology dangers culture safety