2009 is swiftly coming to a close and we are all urgently preparing for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. As we try to focus on our coming Lord and Savior, our minds get cluttered with parties, programs, and presents. Rather than add to that chaos, I’m hoping to help you with a series of blogs designed to be simple and straightforward, while still being informative for you and your ministry. I’m calling the series Top Culture. Using lists of the top pop culture trends and ideas of 2009, I’ll bring you the Cliff Notes version of what’s hot and happening as we enter a new year! Starting with…

The Top Ten Teens You Should Know!

In no particular order. You will recognize some of these teens while others may be a mystery. All of them are under 20 and play a huge role in determining everything in teen culture: fashion, TV and movie viewing, music, slang, and more. It is important to note how many of these teens already have a multi-faceted career, increasing their impact and importance. Also, Disney, for better or worse, continues to play a huge part in bringing out new and ongoing teen stars. Know who these teens are because the youth in your ministry certainly do.

Kristen Stewart plays Bella, the female protagonist, in the phenomenally successful Twilight Saga movies. Stewart manages to keep a fairly low key day to day life, but that doesn’t keep teens and tweens from idolizing her and her on screen character. Rumors and recent pictures suggest Stewart is currently dating co-star Robert Pattinson though they have not formally announced they are together.

Taylor Lautner skyrocketed to fame this past year during the filming and release of New Moon, the second in the Twilight Saga films. Lautner plays Jacob Black, best friend to Bella and romantic rival to Edward, and he happens to be a werewolf. After being cast in a walk-on role in the first movie, Lautner managed to avoid being re-cast for the second movie by putting on nearly 30 pounds of muscle. Now he is landing role after role and has been romantically linked to some of the top teen celebrities including Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift.

Emma Watson is no stranger to the spotlight. She was nine when she was cast as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies. Her fame has in some ways exceeded her costars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint as she has become a fashion icon for many teens and adults. Her most recent role is off screen; this past fall she started college as a freshman at Brown University.

Selena Gomez is one of Disney’s teen dream team, staring in the hit show Wizards of Waverly Place. She branched out from her TV success to star in several upcoming movies including Princess Protection Program and Ramona and Beezus. She is making her name in music as well, just releasing her first solo album. Gomez runs in some high profile circles including the Jonas Brothers and best friend Demi Lovato, who she met at the age of seven while filming Barney together.

Miley Cyrus made her name as the center of Disney’s multi-million dollar Hannah Montana franchise. Since then she has released her first album as Miley Cyrus, rather than her on-screen counterpart, and is staring in several upcoming movies. She has weathered her share of controversy, but continues to be one of the top selling and most interesting celebrities in Hollywood today.

Taylor Swift is a country singing mega-star who at 19 has written more than 250 songs, nabbed Grammys, VMAs, and this year became the youngest ever winner of the CMA’s Entertainer of the Year. She garnered sympathy from many after winning female music video of the year but losing the microphone during her acceptance speech to Kanye West. She continues to grow in popularity, and is currently romantically linked to another Taylor, Taylor Lautner.

Demi Lovato is another part of Disney’s teen dream team who found her fame in Camp Rock, a Disney movie featuring Lovato and the Jonas Brothers. Since then she has released a hit solo album, and gotten her own Disney series, Sonny with a Chance. She is getting ready to star with best friend Selena Gomez in the movie Princess Protection Program.

Taylor Momsen is TV show Gossip Girl’s youngest actress. At 16 years old, Momsen plays social-climbing Brooklynite Jenny Humphrey alongside famous co-stars including Chace Crawford, Blake Lively, and Leighton Meester. She has managed to make a unique name and look for herself by adopting an edgier look, complete with heavily-lined lids and 80s-inspired shag, and becoming the lead singer of an up and coming rock band, Pretty Reckless.

Dakota Fanning’s first big break was at seven for the movie I Am Sam, and she has managed to navigate through childhood stardom to make a name for herself as a young adult. She continues to make popular movies, such as War of the Worlds, the Secret Life of Bees, and Push while attending high school. She even managed to join her high school’s cheerleading team. Most recently she has a small role in the New Moon Twilight Saga movie.

Who would you add to the list? What teens are your teens talking about?