The Media Revolution and Youth Ministry
According to the latest research by Common Sense Media (2015), American teenagers (13-18) average about 9 hours per day (8:56) engaged with screen media (TV, videos, and Social Media).  Heavy users average more than 13 hours per day (13:20).  This research targeted teenagers in the US but the media revolution is a global phenomenon.
What are the implications for ministry to our youth? Greg Hudson, pastor of Georgia-Cumberland Academy (GCA) Church in Calhoun, GA, makes this observation: “Some just harp on the youth for being on their screens so much, but it’s their reality. We likely can’t change that reality, but we must still communicate the Gospel.”Since screen media is such an important part of their world, we need to develop creative approaches to meet our young people where they are, capturing their attention with various forms of screen media. The message remains the same—the everlasting Gospel, but the delivery systems have drastically changed.
Screen media should never replace face-to-face fellowship and live interaction, but it may provide a bridge to those who have no connection or those who have become disconnected from church. It may also help you as a pastor to stay connected with those who are active and anxious for encouragement and support. Mark Reams, Youth Pastor at Forest Lake Church in Apopka, FL, notes: “I can send a text to 1 or 200 of my students and parents instantly. There is no other venue to get the information out faster than an alert that chimes in one’s pocket or on one’s watch. We use this to communicate events, organize meetings, send out prayer requests, and encouragement.”
If you’re looking for someone to assist you with Social Media, podcasting, and other forms of screen media for your local church, try engaging your youth. This is their brave new world, and they understand the language and habits of their peers. For example, at GCA Church “student workers help to maintain our Social Media accounts,” reports Pastor Hudson.
But don’t just throw this media assignment at them and abandon them. Find gifted mentors who are spiritually mature to work with them. Working together, even the ministry itself will be life changing for everyone involved.
 According to the research by Common Sense Media Inc., only 6% of American teenagers reported 0% involvement with screen media.
 Mark Reams makes this observation about time away from media for quality interaction and fellowship: “With the power of media everywhere, there also is power without it. All of my ministry events are intentional about human interaction and spiritual interaction with God and with each other. At many of these events we have a phone bucket for all of the phones. I have had more positive feedback from kids about their time without their mobile device for a period than anything we have done to use media. Sometimes a Sabbath fast from media consumption is necessary.”
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