RYM 010: Keeping Pace With Student Culture

If there’s one thing we all know about the culture our students are living in, it’s that it is constantly changing. From the shows they watch and the accounts they follow on social media, to the music they listen to and the styles that are “in,” what’s considered “cool” in culture seems to change in the blink of an eye. As youth workers, how do we keep up with it? Join ministry leaders in this episode for a conversation all about student culture. They’ll discuss common tensions youth workers are feeling when it comes to keeping pace with student culture and practical ways you can utilize culture to connect with the students you lead.

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As we age, our interests age. (1:30)

Student culture moves incredibly fast. (2:00)

Keeping pace with student culture takes a lot of work. (3:00)

Student culture is fractured. (3:30)

You’re not just trying to figure out what’s cool. You’re trying to figure out what’s cool to many different groups. (4:00)

Following students publicly on social media can give you a window into student culture. (5:00)

Since youth culture is changing, the way we do youth ministry should also change. (14:00)

Student culture moves quickly because of technology. (15:30)

Youth workers must be willing to put in more work to keep up with culture. (16:30)

Most students don’t even watch TV in real time anymore. (17:15)

The way you keep up with student culture is by engaging with students outside the walls of your church. (19:00)

Culture is inconsistent, but we as the church can be consistent. Culture is judgmental, but we as the church can be accepting. (22:00)

Instead of trying to compete with culture, we as the church can respond to culture. (23:00)

We can’t get rid of culture, but we can enrich it. (24:00)

Engage culture through your students instead of engaging culture for your students. (24:15)

The goal of keeping pace with student culture is connection. (24:30)

Practical ways to engage culture through students. (28:00)

Find what the Church can offer that no one else can. (29:30)





Sarah is a writer and communicator who has been involved in ministry since 2003. In 2007, she joined the XP3 high school team where she now works as a lead writer and content creator. She also a contributing writer to the Parent Cue blog. Sarah lives in Roswell, Georgia, and is a big fan of her husband, her two boys, Asher and Pace, and, in her weaker moments, McDonald’s french fries.



Tom Shefchunas is the Executive Director of Student Strategy at Orange. In this role, he leads the development and strategy for XP3 Middle School and High School curriculum. Previously, Tom was North Point Ministries’ Multi-Campus Director of Transit, their middle school ministry, for 12 years. And before that, he spent 10 years as a high school teacher, coach, and principal. Additionally, he is the co-author of Lead Small with Reggie Joiner. Tom and his wife, Julie, live in Cumming, Georgia, with their three children, Mac, Joey, and Cooper.



Crystal currently leads the XP3 High School initiative at Orange. Before that, she spent 10 years as a high school teacher and student ministry leader, doing everything from leading small groups to speaking to curriculum design. Crystal and her husband, Tom, live in Alpharetta, GA with an ill-tempered chihuahua named Javier.



Steve is the director of video and media for XP3 High School at Orange. With a background experience in the music industry as well as with Disney, Steve understands how to create media and artwork that connects with high school students in a variety of environments. Steve and his wife, Julie, live in Alpharetta, Georgia with their two sons.

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Orange Conference 2018