If you find yourself in the fortunate situation of which you have influence over teenagers, then you have the responsibility to be a student of the culture. You are to be a detective, an explorer, an investigator; it is your responsibility to dissect and interpret culture as much as possible, as quickly as possible, and respond as correctly as possible.
Here is the catch: Youth Culture is tricky to nail down; in fact, it is nearly impossible to understand. This is due to many factors, not the least of which is the ever-changing nature of the culture. What is “in” today can literally be “out” tomorrow. It takes due time and diligence to simply keep up. As Walt Mueller, of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding often points out,
“Culture is a map and a mirror. As a map, it guides us through life. . . telling us what to believe and how to live in the world. As a mirror, it reflects back to us things that we might pass over, ignore, or otherwise miss. While it’s much more complex than this, youth culture in its most basic sense maps out life for our kids. For those of us who are adults, it helps us see the maps our kids are following so that we can offer biblical affirmation or correctives where needed.” (Full Post HERE)
We must see the maps our students our following, and seek to understand them as clearly as possible, so that we can offer biblical affirmation where needed. The key here is fluency in the Bible, and acute awareness to the culture around us.
For the first part, as redundant as it may sound, you need to look no further than your personal time with the Lord and the Bible. In order to offer biblically correct responses to the culture we must first have a biblically sound foundations to our theology. The second part is a a bit more complex because, quite frankly, where the Word of God is a constant, trustworthy, and never-failing truth, culture is as reliably consistent as winter weather in Texas. With that in mind, here are a few practical websites that I have found helpful in keeping in touch on the pulse of the ever-changing culture:
- Center for Parent/Youth Understanding (Youth Culture) – http://www.cpyu.org/
- Billboard (Music Culture) – http://www.billboard.com/
- Rolling Stone (Pop Culture) – http://www.rollingstone.com/culture
It is our responsibility to our children, and the teenagers God gives us influence over, to be avid students of the culture. My hope is that Christian adults in areas of influence will actively partner with parents in raising children who become disciples of Christ who make disciples in an often hostile and confusing culture.