“While Paul was waiting
for them in Athens he was
greatly distressed to see that
the city was full of idols.”
“What is this babbler trying to say?”
• listen to the culture
(cultural exegesis)
• speak its language
“Men of Athens! I see
that in every way you
are very religious. For
as I have walked
around and looked
carefully at your
objects of worship, I
even found an altar
with this inscription:
GOD. Now what you
worship as something
unknown I am going
to proclaim to you.”
“From one man he
made every nation of
men, that they should
inhabit the whole
earth . . . . God did
this so that men would
seek him and perhaps
reach out for him and
find him, though he is
not far from each one
of us . . . . As some of
your own poets have
said, ‘We are his
“We want to hear you again on this subject.”
Gaining A Hearing
Why is it so hard?
• Babble: A gap in the “languages of faith”
• Self-Talk: Religion is not in public dialogue
• Crowd Noise: Truth is drowned out by a
plurality of voices and ideas
• ADD: People’s minds are dulled and diverted
Becoming Culturally Literate
•Internet Sites & E-zines
Teens and technology
Teens and Technology
Close to nine in ten teens are internet users
87% of U.S. teens aged 12-17 use the internet
Half of these users say they go online on a daily basis
1 in 2 have a broadband connection at home
81% play games online
76% get news online
43% of online teens have made purchases online
55% use social networks and created online profiles
48% visit social networking sites daily or more often
85% say they most often use/update MySpace
Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2005
Teens and Technology
45% of teens have cell phones
33% are “texting”
Teens consistently choose IM over email
(email is for communicating with ‘old people’ or institutions)
Teens share more than words over IM
(they also use it to share links, photos, music, and video)
The landline phone lives on
(still usually used by half of online teens)
Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2005
Teens and Technology
More than half of online teens are content
• 57% of online teens create content for the internet
• 33% of online teens share their own creations online, such
as artwork, photos, stories, or videos
• 19% have remixed online content to create their own works
Half of online teens say they currently download music,
one-third download video
Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2005
Teens and Technology
Beyond Walls and Neighborhoods
“For tweens and teens today, friendships are being developed
in areas beyond the school walls or their neighborhoods.
Email and social networking sites allow young people to
contact and become friends with people they have not
necessarily met in person.”
Harris Interactive, October, 2006
Teens and Technology
Contacting Friends, Making New Ones
“The vast majority of teens who use social networking sites
say they use the sites to maintain their current friendships,
while half report using the sites to make new friends. Three
out of four social networking teens say they use the sites to
make plans with their friends. However, few teens report (or
admit to) using the networks to directly engage those they are
romantically interested in.”
Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2005
Teens and Technology
How Many Friends Do You Have? (13-18-year-olds)
Average number
considered friends
on their list
IM buddy list
Email contact list
Social networking profile
Cell phone
Harris Interactive, October, 2006
Teens and Technology
Real Online Friends are Close Friends
“Teens’ friendships that are nurtured in both the ‘real’ and
‘virtual’ worlds are more long-standing and intimate than
those that exist only in the ‘real’ world. Fewer teens describe
‘in-person-only’ friendships as close, compared to those
friends with whom they maintain ties both in person and
Harris Interactive, October, 2006
Teens and Technology
Online and Open
“Many teens indicate that they can show more of their truer
selves online. Three in ten teens say they can share more with
a friend online and that they are more honest when they talk
to friends online.”
Harris Interactive, October, 2006
Shaping Spiritual
Identity & Community
for a New Generation
of Youth
The New Digital
The New Digital
“The great man theory of
history is usually attributed
to the Scottish philosopher
Thomas Carlyle, who wrote
that ‘the history of the world
is but the biography of
great men.’ He believed
that it is the few, the
powerful and the famous
who shape our collective
destiny as a species. That
theory took a serious
beating this year.”
The New Digital
“To be sure, there are
individuals we could blame
for the many painful and
disturbing things that
happened in 2006... But
look at 2006 through a
different lens and you’ll see
another story, one that isn’t
about conflict or great men.
It’s a story about community
and collaboration on a scale
never seen before.”
The New Digital
“It’s about the cosmic
compendium of knowledge
Wikipedia and the millionchannel people’s network
YouTube and the online
metropolis MySpace. It’s
about the many wresting
power from the few and
helping one another for
nothing and how that will not
only change the world, but
also change the way the
world changes.
The New Digital
“And we are so ready for
it. We’re ready to balance
our diet of predigested
news with raw feeds from
Baghdad and Boston and
Beijing... And we didn’t
just watch, we also
worked. Like crazy. We
made Facebook profiles
and Second Life avatars
and reviewed books at
Amazon and recorded
i is for
- me, myself & i
A “me-world”
that centers around
my tastes, my preferences,
my interests, my opinions,
my favorites, and my friends.
iPod / iMac
The New
“There’s certainly a
narcissistic quality to
video blogging – who
doesn’t love talking
about him – or herself?
– but the interest that
bloggers take in their
own lives is matched by
their fascination with
one another’s.”
Lev Grossman, “Citizens of the New Digital
Democracy.” Time. Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006.
Say Everything: The New
Generation Gap
“It’s been a long time since there was a true
generation gap, perhaps 50 years – you
have to go back to the early years of rock
and roll, when old people still talked about
‘jungle rhythms’... That musical divide has
all but disappeared. But in the past ten
years, a new set of values has sneaked in
to take its place, erecting another barrier
between young and old... It goes something
like this...
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
Say Everything
“Kids today. They have no sense of
shame. They have no sense of privacy.
They are show-offs, fame whores... who
post their diaries, their phone numbers,
their stupid poetry... their dirty photos! –
online. They have virtual friends instead of
real ones. They talk in illiterate instant
messages. They are interested only in
attention – and yet they have zero attention
span, flitting like hummingbirds from one
virtual stage to another.”
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
Say Everything
“One night at Two Boots pizza, I meet some
tourists visiting from Kansas City: Kent
Gasaway, his daughter Hannah and two of
her friends. The girls are 15. They have
identical shiny hair and Ugg boots, and they
answer my questions in a tangle of
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
Say Everything
“Everyone has a Facebook, they tell me.
Everyone used to have a Xanga (‘So
seventh grade!’). They got computers in
third grade. Yes, they post party pictures.
Yes, they use ‘away messages.’ When I
ask them why they’d like to appear on a
reality show, they explain, ‘It’s the fame
and the - well, not the fame, just the
whole, ‘Oh, my God, weren’t you on TV?’”
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
Say Everything
“After a few minutes of this, I turn to
Gasaway and ask if he has a Web page.
He seems baffled by the question. ‘I don’t
know why I would,’ he says, speaking
slowly. ‘I like my privacy.’ He’s never seen
Hannah’s Facebook profile. ‘I haven’t
gone on it. I don’t know how to get into it!’
I ask him if he takes pictures when he
attends parties, and he looks at me like I
have three heads. “There are a lot of
weirdos out there,’ he emphasizes. ‘There
are a lot of strangers out there.’
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
Out of the Blue?
“There is another way to look at this shift.
Younger people, one could point out, are the
only ones for whom it seems to have sunk in
that the idea of a truly private life is already an
illusion. Every street in New York has a
surveillance camera. Each time you swipe
your debit card or use your MetroCard, that
transaction is tracked. Your employer owns
your e-mails. The NSA owns your phone calls.
Your life is lived in public whether you choose
to acknowledge it or not.”
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
Since 9/11
• What was once public has now
retreated into private.
• What was once private has now
been made public.
Three Changes
Change #1:
They Think of Themselves
as Having an Audience
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
Invisible Audiences
“When I was in high school, you’d have to
be a megalomaniac or the most popular
kid around to think of yourself as having a
fan base. But people 25 and under are
just being realistic when they think of
themselves that way, says media
researcher Danah Boyd, who calls the
phenomenon ‘Invisible audiences.’ Since
their early adolescence, they’ve learned to
modulate their voice to address a set of
listeners that may shrink or expand at any
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
Invisible Audiences
“....talking to one friend via instant
message (who could cut-and-paste the
transcript), addressing an e-mail
distribution list (archived and accessible
years later), arguing with someone on a
posting board (anonymous, semianonymous, then linked to by a snarky
blog). It’s a form of communication that
requires a person to be constantly aware
that anything you say can and will be used
against you, but somehow not to mind.”
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
Public Figures
“This is an entirely new set of negotiations
for an adolescent. But it does also have
strong psychological similarities to two
particular demographics: celebrities and
politicians, people who have always had
to learn to parse each sentence they
form... In essence, every young person in
America has become, in the literal sense,
a public figure. And so they have adopted
the skills that celebrities learn in order not
to go crazy: enjoying the attention instead
of fighting it – and doing their own publicity
before somebody does it for them.”
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
Ellis Cashmore, Celebrity/Culture
“Madonna seems to
have struck a bargain
with the media. It was
something like: ‘ I will
tell you more, show you
more about me than
any other rock or movie
star in history; I will
disclose my personal
secrets, share my fears,
joys, sorrows, what
makes me happy or
sad, angry or gratified;
Ellis Cashmore, Celebrity/Culture
“I will be more candid
and unrestricted in my
interviews than any
other entertainer. In
other words, I’ll be
completely see-through.
In return, I want
coverage like no other: I
want to be omnipresent,
ubiquitous, and
pervasive – I want to be
everywhere, all the
Ellis Cashmore, Celebrity/Culture
Madonna’s Contract
With the Media:
“I show all
you tell all”
Three Changes
Change #2:
The Have Archived Their
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
Case Study:
Caitlin Opperman
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
Three Changes
Change #3:
Their Skin Is Thicker Than Ours
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
Going Public
“The biggest issue of living in public, of
course, is simply that when people see you,
they judge you. It’s no wonder Paris Hilton
has become a peculiarly contemporary role
model, blurring as she does the distinction
between exposing oneself and being
exposed, mortifying details spilling from ther
at regular intervals like hard candy from a
pinata. She may not be likeable, but she
offers a perverse blueprint for surviving
scandal: Just keep walking through those
flames until you find a way to take them as a
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
Fame and Shame
“This does not mean, as many an
apocalyptic op-ed has suggested, that
young people have no sense of shame.
There’s a difference between being able to
absorb embarrassment and not feeling it.
But we live in a time in which humiliation
and fame are not such easily distinguished
qualities. And this generation seems to
have a high tolerance for what used to be
personal information splashed in the public
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
That’s Hot
A tourist
poses with a
wax figure of
Paris Hilton
dressed in
prison wear
at Madame
Tussauds in
New York
June 4, 2007.
Out in the Open
“Schools are uncertain what level of
responsibility they should have over what their
students do online – some are worried about
what they are doing on library computers and
others seek to extend their supervision into
what teens are doing on their own time and off
school grounds. Much of the controversy has
come not as a result of anything new that
MySpace and the other social software sites
contribute to teen culture but simply from the
fact that adults can no longer hide their eyes to
aspects of youth culture in America that have
been there all along.”
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine
i is for
An era of mass customization
and personalized everything,
from play lists to Amazon
recommendations to
cell phone ring tones
and wallpaper.
i is for
A highly
environment that allows users
to not only interact with devices
and content, but more
importantly with each other
through posts, chat rooms,
text and video messages.
i is for
A highly visual culture that uses images
(pictures, logos, streaming video,
graphical user interfaces (GUIs),
etc.) to enhance function, gain
attention, create devotion,
shape perception, and
communicate meaning.
i is for
MySpace and
similar social
networking sites
have become places
where youth identities
are expressed, experienced,
experimented with, and
eventually formed.
Trying on Hats in Virtual Space
“Social networking websites provide a forum for
identity development and exploration of a far
more diverse population than their in-person
community. The job of a teen is to ‘try on many
hats’ to find some that fit. These sites provide an
environment that is not as scary as the ‘real
world’ to try out different personas in the
exploration of their identity. The process alone of
creating a profile involves reflection and thought
into who they are, what they are projecting and
who they want to be in the future. These profiles
are defining the youth of this generation.”
Harris Interactive, October, 2006
Public Perception
“The point is that our current profile should
reflect not necessarily who we are , but who we
want to be perceived as. And that’s constantly
changing, improving, getting more current and
more ‘hip.’ Hence the work. One of my student
told me that his best friend’s profile included a
long list of bands that he’d never heard of. ‘I’ve
known this kid for five years,’ he said, ‘And I’ve
never seen him listen to that stuff.’ It’s a carefully
edited version of yourself, for public
Alice Marwick, “MySpace Profiles and Identity Formation”
A Digital Body
Youth literally ‘write’
themselves and their
communities into
existence on the
Reboot is a Jewish
organization that is
concerned with
how a new
generation of Jews
are negotiating
their Jewishness in
a time of cultural
“Standing in line...at the ubiquitous
coffee house is the quickest way to
realize that we are living in an era
where the possibility to have it “your
way” rules. The desire and ability of the
individual to mix and match the
contents of his or her Grande cup
translates into the power to choose the
way he or she defines personal identity
in America. While some see this mix
and match quality as a negative, this is
the reality we face when listening
carefully to young American Jews
talking about their identities in general
and their religious identities in
Our hope as youth workers is that our
youth will establish a Christian identity
that is rooted in the Seventh-day
Adventist faith and way of life.
But ...
Identities today can no longer be
As Robert Wuthnow argues, identity is
“increasingly achieved rather than
something ascribed to us.”
Youth must hammer out and patch
together an identity amidst a dizzying
array of choices, options, and points of
“How Do You
Take Your
Identity and
in a Time of
Created Crucified
Your Creator Yourself
i is for
informal networks
Fixed communities and institutions have
been challenged by fluid networks of
friends and collaborators who
share music and videos, rate
professors, vote their opinions,
play online games, make
last-minute plans, and discuss
issues with friends
around the world.
Thug: “I thought I told you to come alone.”
Client: “I did.”
Thug: “Who are they?”
Client: “Oh, that’s my network.”
& Collecting
Siblings, lovers,
schoolmates, and
strangers. All are
lumped under one
category: Friends.
• Collectors (commercial profiles, bands, celebs)
• Fakesters (characters, icons, institutions, ideas)
• Whores (real people who amass many Friends)
& Collecting
Most common reasons
for granting Friendship:
• Actual friends
• Acquaintances, family members, colleagues
• Having lots of Friends makes you look
• It’s a way of indicating you are a fan
• Your list of Friends reveals who you are
• Their profile is cool so being Friends makes
you look cool
• It’s easier to say yes than no
boyd, danah. 2006. "Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace."
American Association for the Advancement of Science, St. Louis, MO. February 19.
Public Displays
of Connection
My Friends Define Me
and My Context
“People display social
connections to reveal
information about who
they are.”
boyd/Donath 2004
A Social Galaxy
This image visualizes
Jeffrey Heer’s
personal Friendster
network to 3 “hops”
out, an online social
network consisting
himself, his "friends",
his friends' friends, his
my friends' friends'
friends. The resulting
networks consist of
47,471 people
connected by 432,430
friendship relations.
Univ. Calif. Berkeley
How Should Adults/Parents Respond?
• Communication is key.
• Create an account to understand how the site
works, but not to stalk your kids.
• Ask your kids how they choose to represent
themselves and why.
• Talk about private/public issues with your kids.
• Talk through what kids should do if they
receive unwanted attention online or if they find
themselves the victims of cyber-bullying.
Henry Jenkins, danah boyd
i is for
Consumers now expect to become
producers by being given the
ability to create new content
and to improvise with existing
materials. Teens want
new and cool, but they
expect to be part of
making it that way.
“Nowhere do Millennials
perceive [their technological]
advantage more strongly than
in their sense of mastery over
how technology can be applied to the pop
culture. To be familiar with software and
broadband and graphics and microprocessors
and digital mixers is one thing. But for most
youth, the pop culture – buying it, creating it,
downloading it, manipulating it, sharing it –
is where all the pieces come together at the
center of a whole new lifestyle.”
Millennials and the Pop Culture, Neil Howe/William Strauss
Your American Idol...
Part of American Idol’s success has been the ability
of the viewer to participate in creating celebrity.
i is for
Communication is immediate,
compact, and accessible.
Teens can be in touch 24-7
from a variety of platforms –
cell phones, instant messaging,
texting, MySpace – keeping
friends close even when
physically separated.
i is for
infinite options
It goes way beyond the number songs
you can fit on your iPod or the
hundreds of channels coming
through your satellite dish. It’s
about the plurality of hyperchoices presented to us in
every area of our lives, from
the shopping mall to the
religious marketplace.
Even if YOU don't know what faith
you are, Belief-O-Matic™ knows.
Answer 20 questions about your
concept of God, the afterlife, human
nature, and more, and Belief-OMatic™ will tell you what religion (if
any) you practice...or ought to
consider practicing.
Warning: Belief-O-Matic™ assumes
no legal liability for the ultimate fate
of your soul.
i is for
Students in Dallas, Dubai, and
Denmark may have as much or
more in common with each
other than they do with their
parents at home. Global ties
and generational forces
compete with local culture
and geographical loyalties.
i is for
Globalism dissolves borders and
fosters mobility. In this kind of world,
adolescents enjoys boundaryless freedom but risk
placelessness. As nomads,
they shun the symbolic territory
of denominations in favor of
more “portable” spiritual
practices. Kenda Creasy Dean
Living by SONY
Cultural Chameleons
“In place of easily identified youth
groupings, young people now seem to
be much more chameleon-like in the
way that they consume styles of dress,
behavior and music. Identity is created
from a number of different and diverse
sources. Personal style and taste is put
together from a variety of contrasting
media influences. Consequently,
allegiance to any one artist, style of
dress or social environment is much
looser than was previously the case.”
Pete Ward, Mass Culture
Cultural Nomads
“Young people attracted to
the Christian scene are
simultaneously consuming a
variety of other scenes… The
assumption on which most
Christian youth leaders
continue to operate is that
involvement in Christian
youth culture will have a
profound and lasting effect on
young people’s lives…
Pete Ward, Mass Culture
Cultural Nomads
“The problem is that, in the
current environment, such
activity in the Christian scene
does not necessarily ensure
identification with a Christian
lifestyle or a system of belief
… Christian young people are
much more likely to follow
their peers, dipping into
various scenes, and , as a
result they are more culturally
nomadic than in the past …
Pete Ward, Mass Culture
Cultural Nomads
“While young people may
assimilate much of the Christian
message as a result of their
involvement in Christian popular
culture, at the same time their
identity is not totally invested in
such consumption… Young people
migrate much more easily from one
social context to another and it is a
matter of concern that Christian
commitment may not travel with
them in the same way that it did
previously.” Pete Ward, Mass Culture
Discipleship & Community
“Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses
made by hands, as the prophet says, ‘Heaven
is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me,
says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest?
Have not my hands made all these things?”
Acts 4:48-50
Discipleship & Community
“For where two or three are gathered in my
name, there I am among them.” Matthew
Discipleship & Community
“Or do you not know that your body is a
temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom
you have from God? You are not your own,
for you were bought with a price. So glorify
God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19
Discipleship & Community
• Take a sacramental, creation-centered
approach to life and culture. Show that God is
present and active in all corners of His world.
• Teach spiritual formation and practices.
These are highly portable (e.g. Sabbath)
• Look for God in strange places. Take young
nomads on guided ‘exoduses’ into other cultural
and spiritual territories.
“We are living in an era of change in
which the individual is sovereign. By
enabling every listener to be their own DJ,
the iPod has forced the record industry to
rethink its business model. By
circumventing traditional party structures,
Moveon.org has given ordinary people a
more powerful voice in the Democratic
Party. Tivo, a digital technology, offers
viewers the opportunity to create personal
television schedules that do away with
commercials, undermining both networks
and their advertisers.”
“The IPod, Moveon, and Tivo allow their
users to bypass the ‘middleman’ and take
control of their own experiences, whether
they are creating a song list or acting
politically. The question of whether
religious communities are injured from
this generational expectation for
personalization and customization is a
critical one. The continued ability of our
religious institutions to organize
community, and offer meaning is no
small matter.”
In other words, young people today
are using technology:
• To shape and share their
• To organize themselves into
informal networks and to seek
community without walls
• To intentionally by-pass
traditional structures and
institutions that, in the past, have
controlled and mediated meaning
and provided the boundaries for
community and identity
• God & religion are a central part
of their lives
• Formal, institutional religious
• Uncertain, yet positive, about
religious identity
• Favor informal, expressive
religious practices
• Religion plays little to no role
• May have spiritual but not religious
aspects to their identity
The Good News About the Godly...
• Religious youth have a stronger sense
of themselves
• They have higher levels of selfunderstanding and self-esteem than less
religious youth.
The Good News About the Godly...
• Religious youth rank higher than nonreligious youth in terms of connection with
• Religious youth report easier relationships
with their parents and, in fact, religious
attachment and family ties reinforce one
• Religious youth are far more likely to
report that they volunteer on a regular basis
(59% as compared to 20% of the God-less).
The Good News About the Godly...
• Even the most religious youth maintain
diverse networks of peers; only 9 percent
say that all of their friends are of the
same religion, though 52 percent say
most of their friends are of the same
“One of the strategies that sociologists
have pinpointed as key to Starbucks’
success is that it offers a “good Third
Place,” a place that is neither home nor
work, where an individual finds comfort
and company – in other words,
‘community.’ Starbucks’ success comes
at a time when there is a decline of more
traditional forms of community. Many
of the more traditional communities built
in the twentieth century were local and
based around a sense of shared space....
These spatial communities, however, do
not easily translate into the current social
reality where social and professional
circles are incredibly mixed.”
“This generation experiences popular
culture through personal networks and
the consumption of cultural products
and events, as opposed to through
institutional memberships. Whether
young people gather to hear a concert,
view a film, or create other cultural
forums, cultural mechanisms are
primary portals for connectedness and
meaning. Cultural performances and
programs play a number of
complicated yet connected roles for
Generation Y audiences.
“Cultural performances
and programs... convene
an audience that allows
for an experience of
Increasingly, this
audience is being
“convened” via a
“convergence culture”
that disperses content
across a wide variety of
mediums and connects
people in ways that are
not bound by a particular
time or space.
“The content of cultural
products and events
communicates values and
creates a common
language among the
audience members.”
“Cultural performances and
products, like DVDs, books,
magazines, music and other
media, act as a catalyst for
must-have conversation.
They provide friends who
experience the performance,
product or event in real time
or in parallel play with
content for extended
The Connection Economy
Competitive advantage
is secured through the
creation of relationships
with those inside and
outside of the business
or institution.
The Connection Economy
“Understanding the
world as a machine and
the need to organize
ourselves in hierarchies
is giving way to an
understanding of the
world as a connection of
dynamic relationships
where networks
dominate.” Keith Cobbs
The Connection Economy
“Who you are will be far
more important than
what you sell in the
emerging connection
economy.” Keith Cobbs
How Can
We Reach
1. Where and how are young
people connecting?
Convene with them there.
2. What is being
communicated through
their cultural “texts?”
Convey your
understanding of the
deeper longings these
3. What are they talking
about and why? Converse
with them on their terms.
How Can
We Reach
John 6: Feeding of the 5000
Rich Young Ruler
“What do I still lack?”
Matthew 19:20

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