Tag Archives: missional children’s ministry

Kidmin Culture Industry

I can’t stand your religious meetings.

I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.
Eugene Cho recently posted the above verse as his Facebook status. I had read the verse before, and in that translation but had forgotten about it. Thanks to Eugene for reminding me of it 🙂
Over the past few years, I’ve become more aware at the overabundance of conferences and workshops from everything to leadership to getting rich quick to church planting to living simply and I recently came across an NPR story on a conference on how to capitalize on failure…
In the kidmin world, we’re not immune to conferences. It seems like there are conferences popping up all over the place: volunteer conferences, color-coded conferences, gospel-driven-missional-biblical-relevant-fun conferences… I’ve even come across conferences on how to have conferences!
Don’t get me wrong. I love going to conferences just as much as the next conference junkie… Admittedly, I like to go so I can hang out with people and have an excuse to eat out more than I should.
The more I critically analyze and look at kidmin conferences, though, the more I see that we are simply engaging in and perpetuating a Kidmin Culture Industry. By “culture industry,” I am referring to the commercialization of a culture. In this instance, kidmin culture. Kidmin is a definite culture with multiple subcultures, and if you look close enough, each of those subcultures have their own conferences and associations and workshops and curriculum and publishing houses. I attend a number of these conferences, lead some of those workshops and even write for some of those publishing houses. Again, I’m not criticizing any of that…
What I am concerned with is that we are letting the Kidmin Culture Industry dictate and control what kidmin is supposed to look like. The theory behind “culture industry” is that a culture industry shapes and pre-packages what a certain culture is supposed to look like so that all we have to do is consume what the culture industry gives us. In so doing, we lose “authentic culture.” We lose out on unique and revolutionary voices because they don’t fit into the mold of the Kidmin Culture Industry.
Kidmin is ripe for that kind of consumption. We’re always looking for the best way to lead teams, the best way to recruit and train volunteers, the best way to teach the Bible… we even fret about the names we come up for our ministries and classrooms. So we look for books that are “practical.” We read blogs for the “37.5 Ways to Fold Take Home Papers so Parents Will Read Them.” We seek out the names of those who are successful or, at least, sound successful.
We look to the Kidmin Culture Industry to tell us what kidmin is supposed to look like.
We lose sight of authentic culture. We lose sight of the uniqueness God has gifted each of us with.
We lose sight of the people God has put in front of us and focus on some hegemonic ideal of what kidmin is supposed to look like thinking that if we could just be more like _______________ (fill in the blank of whatever kidmin you covet after), then we would be fulfilling God’s calling for our kidmin.
I’m not saying conferences and workshops and books and blogs are bad… they aren’t. What I am saying is that we need to spend more time talking with the kids and families and other people in our ministries and churches and connecting with them and their stories and connecting their stories to a much larger Story.
Spend more time building an unique, creative and authentic culture that fits your community bringing peace and justice and more of God’s Kingdom to your community.
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Kids These Days are Disengaged…

All they do is text each other. They don’t know how to have face-to-face conversations. Before cell phones, people had to actually talk to each other. Nowadays kids would rather sit in front of a screen, their thumbs deftly punching out LOL and K and 🙂

Now that we’ve put kids in their place, take a look at this video:

Sociologist George Mead states that our sense of self is shaped by our interactions with each other. In other words, you shape your understanding of who you are based on how you interpret the way people interact with you. So if most of the people you interact with treat you with respect, awe and deference, you will see yourself as someone with authority and act accordingly. On the flip side, if most people around you gaze at you suspiciously, avoid speaking with you and single you out for criticism, you will see your self as an outsider. Mead called this type of interaction labeling. A person or group will eventually embody the labels placed on them if those labels are persistently applied over time by other people and groups in power.

So why the sociology lesson?

Those of us in ministry leadership wield a great deal of power over the people in our ministries whether we think so or not. This is especially true when it comes to children’s and youth ministry leaders. The labels we place on kids and students have power over them. We reproduce those labels amongst other adults we have influence over: parents, volunteer leaders, other adults at the churches we minister in… Those labels, in turn, are reinforced by those adults, influencing how we all view and interpret the actions of kids and students… Eventually, those labels influence how kids and students view themselves, and many of them begin to embody those labels. Other kids and students, though, fight against those labels, and it is our job, as those in positions of influence and authority, to stand alongside the kids and students we work with as allies and advocates. It is our job as people in positions of power in our ministries to expose the negative labels we’ve placed on kids. Once we do that we can demolish the perceived “generation gaps” we’ve constructed over time with negative labels.

What do you think?

Are these labels simply descriptions of the reality of kids and students?

Or have we created self-fulfilling prophecies of who kids and students are?

What are some negative labels you’ve placed on kids and students?

What are you doing to dispel the negative labels that are placed on kids and students?

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