The Middle Years Ministry

Formerly "The JH Uth Guy", THE MIDDLE YEARS MINISTRY is a Site Dedicated to Providing Resources, Ideas, and Help to Pastors, Leader, Directors, Teachers, Mentors and Anyone Else Working in
the
Pivotal and Important 5th-9th Grade Years. The "Middle Years" are not children's ministry, not high school ministry, and are more than just Middle School. It is a unique and specialized ministry.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tween Fast Fashion and Tween Fast Faith?


The World Is Moving Fast For All of Us, But Especially for Our Pre-teen/Young Teen Students.  It Always Has, But Now it is Moving Even Faster Than Ever.  Even The Ways We Consume Products, Ideas, and Even Fashion.  But What About Faith?

The term is "Fast Fashion" it is a newer term used by fashion retailers when it comes to taking a design from the catwalk, quickly and cheaply making it; getting it out to consumers in order to capture current fashion trend. Often even within week versus the old model of months or seasons.   Places like H&M, Forever 21, and Zara are becoming hugely popular with teens and tweens, and yes even their parents.  Fast fashion stores are actually killing sales for the more traditional teen/tween giants like American Eagle, Aeropostale, and the Gap collection of stores.  Even the big department stores like Target, Macy's and others are getting challenged.  The growing trend is the demand for the quick turn around of 3-4 weeks or less and at a low cost.   People see something on the red carpet or on a TV show, they want it now and also the want it cheap.   The backside of this trend is also that after 3-4 weeks and the item is already gone.  Whether it is a clothing item, an app, or a pop trend, it comes it goes and it not a big deal because no one really spent that much anyway.

Tween and young teens are especially susceptible to being part of this whole trend, especially because everyone is marketing to them in BIG ways.   Spending 17 Billion on making sure that tweens are spending 43 Billion on mom and dad's money.

So what does fashion have to do with faith??

Young teens are coming to age in a world where everything is changing and things come and go so quickly, while we try to teach them unchanging truth.   Teens and pre-teens have forever been immersed in popular culture and the changing trends.  All the way back to their grandparent's time there has been a youth culture in America.   Youth ministry in the modern sense is in some ways is the new kids on the church scene, while it actually is as about as old as the American "young/teen" culture. What is changing however inside popular culture is the fast, cheap, disposable, and recycling of things even when it comes to faith.

Fast.  Quick in, quick out...even when it comes to our ministries and to faith.  Long term discipleship, relationship and study are now more than ever becoming harder.  An hour on Sunday, maybe an hour or 2 another day of the week, that is it.   As young believer emerge from the children's ministry, it is going to become more difficult to slow thing down in order to dive into the deep stuff of the word.

Cheap.  Low cost, Low value?  What is the real value of what we are trying to do?  We know it, but will our students.   We want to ask students to "count the cost" while they are living in a world the rest of the week where quality is less and less value, replaced by inexpensive.  While yes this will apply to our ministries in monetary things, like cost of trips and retreats.  The bigger challenge moving forward may be the "selling" the spiritual price tag attached to being a high quality Christ-Follower?

Disposable.  Throw it away, when you are done with it? Quick fads are fun and exciting, even for ministries.   The newest toy, technology, and model are all part of even our youth ministry sub-culture.   All of which we spend a large chunk of our youth budget on.  While our students may be seeing all of it including the newest fad ministry model as quickly disposable.  With little commitment to only a few things, the question is will God, church and even our ministry stay out of the personal trash can?

Recycling.  Donate your used stuff and we will use it to create something new?   A bit of this, a bit of that like an old pair of jeans donated at the bin at Old Navy to be made into playground mulch.  Tweens and young believers are more than ever willing to take a bit of what we say, what their friends say, and something they saw in a movie put all together to recycle it into something they believe, for at least the next couple weeks?

So what are we to do with the trend of "fast fashion faith."..
   Continue to stay faithful to the one thing that does not change. Whether it is "in fashion" or "out of fashion".  It is our calling and our mission.  Do not become distracted by trying to keep up with trends or fads.  That being said, we also must be keenly aware of the culture we live in, making sure we make our ministries and the Word of God relevant and not just relative to what is hot or not...

I TIM. 4 "Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." 

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