“Dad, what is this big black round thing? Is it a big CD?” asked my four-year-old daughter back in 1995. I assured her it was what mom and dad used to listen to when they were teenagers. She smiled and put the record back.
This simple story always brings me back to the many changes I have been through in my lifetime. There have been changes in the way we live, communicate and relate with each other. Pop culture has changed since the beginning of the 80’s. Video games once consisted of Pong, and people used to spend hours watching a ball go across a screen and try to hit it with a small paddle. Today’s video games have graphics so realistic it is hard to determine if it is real or a game. The types of games have also switched. Long gone are Donkey Kong and Centipede. People camp out to pick up the latest games such as Black Ops or dance games. Controllers for video games went from being attached to a game console to being wireless, to having your body as the controller and involved in the game itself. MTV was the newest fad, bringing us the first music videos. I remember watching for hours hoping Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video would come on soon. Now students watch MTV for shows like Jersey Shore, Made and Teen Mom, not music. Televisions themselves have changed over the years. A nice television was a console with the largest screen being 32 inches and they were big and bulky. Shows were limited between the hours of 6 a.m. and 12 midnight, with the National Anthem being played at both ends. Cable TV was introduced in the 1980’s making channels available twenty- four hours with news and sports around the clock.
The way we communicate has changed drastically over the past 20 years. There has been a progression with the way we talk on the phone. At that time phones were connected to a receiver plugged into the wall. High school students used to talk on the phone for hours on end, making parents lose their minds managing phone time. To combat this, “call waiting” was established so important phone calls came through and parents would not miss them. Home computing has drastically changed. It used to be that only a few people could afford a home computer. Web sites were more for selling products and giving information about companies and products. Now there is cyber Monday, and computers have become so interactive the term “social network” is the norm. The bulky PC has been replaced by the laptop and now the laptop is being replaced by the tablet. Computers are getting faster and able to handle more memory. The first computers were slow and could only handle 256 MG of memory. Today USB drives are able to hold over 32GB. Cell phones have changed as a communication tool. The first cell phones were big, bulky and expensive. Now cell phones are not only phones, but instant messengers and mini computers enabling users to surf the web virtually anywhere. The internet has also gone through changes. You can find anything on the web, and parents today do not buy encyclopedias as children look up information for projects online.
What are some of the constants throughout the years? The obvious is Jesus. He has never changed. Scripture says in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” This is assuring for Christians because everything is in a state of change in pop culture. Youth need to recognize this about Jesus. Their world is rapidly changing, and they need and desire a constant in their lives. Students need to have an anchor in the storm and this is the constant Jesus provides.
Another non-changeable is Jesus’ love for us shown on the cross. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, he gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This love is so amazing, and students need to hear about this love–that Jesus’ death and resurrection is for them and that never changes, not now, not ever.
Another item that hasn’t changed is our students need to be loved. Directors of Christian Education and other church workers need to rally around these youth with unconditional love and support. Youth Ministry has and will continue to be about relationships. These relationships must come from caring adults who love youth regardless. This will help students see Jesus and the love and grace of Christ in the world today. As Guy Doud stated, “We must be Jesus with skin on.”
My daughter is now in college and we have a lot of laughs about the way things “used to be,” and she even comments on how old I am (especially after lock-ins). We can handle the changes in our lives and in the lives of our youth with the help of God.