By Taylor Fairbanks
Two days. Forty-eight hours. One weekend.
More content is developed within that time span alone than was developed from the dawn of man up to 1993. More information, more discoveries and more published works. “No way,” you say?
Let’s start with the four billion videos uploaded to YouTube. Per day. That’s an hour of video uploaded every second. Crazy, right? Now let’s think about all the tweets we read, photos we `like, and news we consume.
We have become content-driven creatures that hover over news feeds waiting for the next bit of information to surface. It’s a world that updates by the millisecond. And the result? In the ’60s, the death of JFK was mourned for months. Today, the death of Nelson Mandela trended for two or three days. The past twenty years have changed everything.
Remember what life was like growing up in the `70s and ’80s? (I don’t, but I do know things are MUCH different.) The biggest indicator? Social media. In July of 2012, Americans spent 121 billion minutes on social media. That’s 230,060 years. And guess what age group uses it most? Bingo. Nine out of ten young people to be exact. It’s just one way the rest of the world has become closer to them than ever before. And because of man’s desire to make a dollar, social media isn’t just a way to keep in touch. Businesses have their eyes on a different consumer these days.
Just as financial wealth is a sign of success, young people are the currency of today’s brands. These brands measure performance by the youth of their consumers. A popular buzzword in the world of business is “millennial,” or any person born between the late ’80s and early 2000s. They make up the largest target demographic across all industries, and marketers believe they are the key to any company’s future.
Students are in the sights of this world’s devices. Every day these millennials are hit by ad campaigns, social movements, and innumerable, well-crafted strategies to sway their purchases. The world is connected to them so tightly through their computers, tablets, and cell phones, that there’s virtually no way to stop it.
Which begs the question, why aren’t we as connected?
From the launch of the New Testament church, it’s always been about bringing the Gospel to where people are. The fathers of our faith toiled and traveled to touch lives.
Now, to compare technologically advanced student ministries to the work of the early church would be ridiculous, but I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say the apostles would have connected to people any way possible.
To neglect technology is to neglect the basis by which most students live. And if I’m not willing to go where they are, I should question my ministerial motives.
It’s not a matter of saving students through technology, rather, it’s a matter of placing yourself firmly into their every day lives instead of just two calendar slots a week.
Just look at Jesus. We see time and time again where He was doing something the scribes and Pharisees would never do. Instead of remaining in the temple with a high-and-mighty mindset, He lowered Himself into a chair next to the publicans and sinners. It was unheard of, but that was just Jesus. Social norms never struck a chord with Him. He wanted to connect to the lost.
How connected are you to your students? Do you live in the same world they live in, or a remnant of a past they never knew? Technology can never replace ministry, but should give us new ideas about how it can be done better. Find the way that best suits your students. Are they mostly on Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Interrupt their news feeds with something uplifting, something to excite them about a worship service, or a funny video they can show their friends and proudly say, “My church posted this!”
Their lives revolve around feeds. So let’s work together to provide them with what they should be fed.
Taylor Fairbanks is student pastor at the Voice of Pentecost, graduating in May with a BA in advertising and business. He also claims to be third cousin of Bruce Wayne.
The above article, “#Connected,” was written by Taylor Fairbanks. This article was excerpted from Apostolic Witness, March 2014. The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.