I’m about ask the question that I don’t think my other youth workers would want me to say aloud but I am pretty sure there are a bunch of us who are already thinking this, but… is social media is killing the creativity of youth ministry?
There. I said it.
I’m part of multiple youth worker forums on Facebook and most days, I am overwhelmed with the questions in my feed of youth workers asking seemingly mindless questions that could probably be answered by reading a book or googling. And I think it’s watering down the creativity that is possible in youth ministry. Now, I fully admit I am guilty of this as well. I’m not point fingers here because I am part of the issue and I wholeheartedly own that. And I want to do better.
Social media has been a huge turn-around for our world. It’s made everything global. And the beauty of it is that a youth worker in South Africa can connect with another youth worker they have never met in Australia in seconds, all because of an internet connection and an online group. It’s fantastic. Crowd-sourcing is one of the best ways to share information.
But sometimes we go too far.
Before social media was a thing, youth workers had to be creative. We didn’t get to just put a question out there and get almost instant results from people all over the country or world. We had to be creative and read, check out videos, use the Bible, or if we had it, talk to the other youth workers in our towns and cities we might know. We were forced to figure things out. But this is one of the downsides to the internet and being able to so readily share information is that we’re turning to Pinterest and Facebook and other online sources to see how others have already been creative. We are depending on the hive-mind to tell us what they have already done.
Sure, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but there is something really wonderful about having to sit down and think critically about what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it based on our own knowledge. And we run into problems when we start asking the questions that we could have most likely just figured out had we just taken 15 minutes out of our busy day and instead of cross posting it on 12 different FB groups. We could have just done a little research and critical thinking and maybe gotten something even better.
Earlier today someone in a group I’m a part of said something to the effect of, “Tell me the best curriculum you use for X…” Now, it’s one thing if this is just someone trying to create a list of people’s favorites or recommended tools, but this person asks this for everything they are doing. And they aren’t alone. If you watch, it’s easy to see the patterns of depending on others for ideas that we’re guilty of falling into.
When we fail to be creative, we fail the church. We should be encouraging people in their creativity. Being creative is what brings us new ways to worship, new hymns and music, it’s the thing that helps to build community. Being creative in the church is the work of the Holy Spirit who moves among us, daily. And when we stifle her, when we just go to our online groups for ideas without any work on our own, we fail in allowing God to work through us in new and interesting ways.
So, instead of asking the question all the time of everyone else, maybe we should be asking the questions of ourselves as to what we would want to see, or maybe start doing the things ourselves before we ask everyone else to do it for us. Maybe we need to re-hone our critical thinking skills when it comes to bible studies and small groups. If for no other reason than our youth and the church deserve that much from us.