William and I attended the SLU's Youth Pastor Summit this past Thursday and Friday here in Orlando. It was such a great experience. Although we are not "youth workers" our ultimate goal is to continue producing quality faith-based entertainment, so learning about all the new approaches to youth ministries was quite interesting. On Thursday William heard from George Barna, of the Barna Research Group, and some of the stats he gave were eye opening to say the least. According to his research 10 years ago 88% of teens considered themselves to be Christian compared to 55% of teens today. Another startling statistic was that 61% of church teens drop out of church altogether once they graduate and attend college, etc, etc. Couple this with the fact that the average teen spends 59 hours a week on mass media, 49 hours on sleep, 38 hours on school, 7 hours on meals, and 3 hours on faith and church. The media is so intertwined with the youth culture. Did you know that kids send 32 text messages to every 1 phone call they make? During Friday's seminars we heard from Dr. Bill Brown, President of Cedarville University. He spoke on the entertainment culture and teaching youth to discern culture through a biblical worldview. Chuck Allen and Ministry Growers hosted a seminar on "Gorilla Marketing" for youth and your community. One of the standout points of his message was a study of former youth group members. When surveyed the top three answers to "what did you learn at youth group?" were 1. I made friends, 2. I went on some trips, and 3. I think I learned a couple of Bible lessons. :tear: The last two seminars we attended dealt with the pervasive sexual messages that are bombarding our kids today. Scott Davis of Exodus International spoke on equipping youth pastors, leaders, and workers with the tools to address the issues of homosexuality and sexual confusion, and basically all unhealthy relationships in general. He gave some general tools to encourage healthy expressions of gender and also how to Biblically yet compassionately respond to this pervasive cultural sexual confusion. He also gave some eye opening stats, but due to their nature I will not list them. Needless to say this is something that needs to be addressed in our youth groups, because they are learning about it in other areas that are not Godly in any way, shape, or form. Lastly we heard from Craig Gross of xxxchurch. His message was greatly related to that of Scott Davis of Exodus. 12-17 year olds are the largest viewers of porn and many times this is not even discussed in any setting in churches. We teach our kids to stay away from drugs, alcohol, and even warn of the dangers of pre-marital sex, but many times this is a real problem among teens that is not specifically addressed. I never realized just how much things have changed since I was in youth group, (which consequently was not all that long ago in the mid 90's). To all you youth pastors out there you have an amazingly difficult job, and honestly I think many times you are not given credit for the work you do. So thank you! Unfortunately things do not seem to be getting any easier. How exactly do we reach a generation that is increasingly becoming unreachable? How do we compete with enticements of the world when they are so easily and readily available for our kid’s consumption? There are no easy answers, it is nice to see that we are not giving up, though.