I was reading the newest study on teens and media from Common Sense Media Report on Tweens and Teens and one stat, among many, stood out to me
Everyone can be a maker, but not many are. The vast majority of kids’ engagement with media consists of consuming media, with only a small portion devoted to creating content.
Yes, students create content for their Instagram and Tik Tok accounts, but how do we channel that creativity to our youth ministry?
In my experience, many youth ministries (and churches) keep kids leveled at consuming religious training but are almost never given the opportunity to create for the church. We’ve said for years that people in church have adopted the consumerist mindset when it comes to style and preference, but the above findings with teens is true across the board; we have too many consumers and not enough contributors.
Everyone could be a maker. Do you believe that statement? Do you believe that every kid in your youth ministry could be a creator, a maker, a contributor to the youth program as a whole? If you believe that; how are you creating opportunities for kids to create? To share their faith? Their gifts?
Here are four examples of how you can change the consumer culture into a creation culture.
Let them design the T-Shirt
We planned a mission trip to Mississippi. I was fooling around with a few ideas and got stuck. I sent what I had out to a few people who were going on the trip and received some great responses. One young lady went into detail and as she sent me her proposed changes and I sent them to the designers. The designers sent me back the changes and it blew the girls mind that I had taken her suggestions and put them to work. Yes, the designers designed but my student created. Now, she has a shirt she’s extra excited to wear because she had a hand in it.
Let them plan the program
Our college and high school kids did a great job of planning a Disney Costume Party for a Halloween bash. They decided the food, the games, and who would speak. The night was a huge success.
My students have planned out our Youth Sunday in a Sunday School session. We made group decisions on the theme: Gonna Be Worth It, developed a skit about technology and message through time, how we’re going to deliver the message (tag team style), and what the worship is going to be like. Everyone was given an opportunity to throw something into the pot. Youth Sunday is now truly youth-led Sunday.
To show you that my students weren’t special (although, they were), I was asked to not only speak at a retreat but help the students plan it. I sat in an office with four students and a white board. I facilitated, asked questions and made some suggestions but they planned it. They planned the games, named the retreat and create the logo in about an hour. You can do the same with your students.
Let them plan the menu
In my last ministry, we had a decent cafe area headed up by a great person and cook. I call her Iron Chef. She made some great dishes over the years. The beginning of one year was different. I did my usual call to action for students to take a hand in their ministry and they responded. Some of the boys wanted to cook so I gave them to our Iron Chef. For two months, three boys planned, purchased, and cooked every meal and have sold out of their food almost every week.
Our Iron chef could have kept on creating and our kids would have kept on consuming but she stepped aside to let others create and everyone get’s to consume it.
Give them an assignment
We went through the Alpha Youth Series with our college and career group. In the series, the duo who teaches shows on the street interviews using the same questions we use for discussions. I challenged our students to do their own interviews using the same questions.
I gave them the option of doing these thee question interviews with friends or strangers who did not know Christ. They are going to bring back their videos to the group next week and share their interviews with everyone.
Will everyone in the group do it? Probably not, but at least they’ve been given a chance to create.
If you’re tired of spoiled, entitled, consumer minded teens; then change it.
Believe that everyone in your group is a maker, figure out what they can make, let them make it, reward them and repeat.
Other articles to helping kids create
Crowdsourcing Ideas To Get Kids Involved In Your Meeting
Upping Your Student Engagement Through Crowdsourcing
Kickstarting Your Student Leadership Ministry Part 1
Kickstarting Your Student Leadership Ministry Part 2