One of the topics the leadership beyond the Youth Ministry Leadership Exchange felt it was important to tackle was that of culture. More specifically, before we headed to dinner on day 2, we talked about how to connect with the culture around us. Jeremy Del Rio, Jon Acuff, Dave Adamson, and a panel of experts tackled several aspects of culture: communities, schools, social media, and race.
First up was Jeremy Del Rio, who spoke on how we can better reach out and connect with our communities, specifically the local schools. He shared four principles that, if focused upon, should help us make a big difference:
- First serve, not save.
- Tend the garden. Beauty already exists. Just cultivate it.
- Never ever bait and switch.
- Under-promise and over-deliver.
Next up was Jon Acuff, who covered four major ways to use social media. We don’t have to be scared of it. And if we focus on these suggestions, our experience should be much better online:
- Remember it’s not about you.
- Don’t make empty claims.
- Unfollow the right people.
- Do awesome stuff.
Reggie Joiner, between speakers, had a great statement about relevance. He defined it as: “Using what is cultural to leverage what is timeless.” That’s what we need to do with social media.
Dave Adamson took the social media conversation further and talked about Luke 14:24-25 and how we need to use social media to connect people with God. When it is done well, people will often connect with our church before they connect within our church. Our social media accounts are, many times, the new front door of our churches. Dave, then, gave three tips to create a solid social media strategy for our church:
- Focus on photos, but use them strategically. Draw people in, recap past events, use with stories, etc.
- Repurpose on purpose to create content throughout the week. Have a plan to keep it going.
- Invite people into conversations, not events. Question marks are greater than periods.
The topic of culture ended with a panel discussion on the topic of race. Even though we have changed many things in our world and made some great advancements, racism is still a very real thing. In this fairly raw discussion, they shared several key points that we should follow to do our part in ending it.
- It should be our responsibility to engage in the conversation and reconciling.
- We need to help our students see the issues.
- The church holds the key to this issue. We need to figure out what the “one” is in John 17:22-23.
- Racism is a system built on a social-political construct focused on race.
- What to do and how to help those of other races:
- Listen to all people, which takes humility.
- Believe them about the issues they’re going through.
- Befriend them.
- Care for them.
- Stand up for them.
As youth workers, we are often on the front lines of connecting with culture. We are in the communities, schools, and social media more than most other ministry leaders. But are we taking our roles seriously? Is there more we can be doing to connect? Are we being strategic with the connections we have? Are there people we are overlooking or ignoring?
I’d love to hear what you are doing to connect with culture in your communities, schools, online, and more. Let me know in the comment section!