Part of being a good youth worker is understanding the world our students live in.
A major part of their world is music. If your kids are anything like mine they would swear that they hate pop music. They like some weird indie music that no one has heard of. But the truth is that the most popular music out there is music that they know, it is music that both instructs and reflects their lives, and even more importantly, it is the music that plays the sound track of their adolescence.
I think understanding pop culture and having your hand on the pulse of the music that is shaping their story is one of the easiest ways to connect with students and draw out their stories. As I get older, I almost gave up completely on trying to keep up. It is just too hard and takes too much time. And plus I would lie to myself and say that students only need adults to love them. But part of loving them, is understanding the world in which they inhabit.
Don't let being old and uncool be an excuse for not being aware of pop culture.
It is true that being old and being naturally not cool, can be two death nails in being a youth worker. But it doesn't have to be. I have written before the 10 easy ways to stay hip and relevant. This is a list that all of us can do and do well and takes minimal time and effort.
Also, I know that there are huge advocates for ditching the pop music scene and swim in the Christian Music scene. While there are plenty of good reasons for this, one reason to understand pop music and to capitalize on ints influence is to use pop music to be the soundtrack of their youth ministry lives as well. I defend this argument is advocating the important place for pop music and dance parties as part of the youth ministry diet.
With all that being said, pop music is powerful and it is important for us as youth workers to be up with what is out there. There are plenty of resources, plenty of ways to keep an eye on the charts. But I have finally landed on the best resource out there, the one that cuts through all the clutter and single-handedly makes clear what truly is pop music, the music that all our students are aware of, know the words to, and are the sound track of their lives. By using this resource we can take that same music and make it the sound track of their youth ministry lives as well!
So what is this resource you speak of?
Ok, are you ready? Don't judge me, it is Kidz Bop! Don't try playing the latest Kidz Bop for your students, but you can use their play list to at least be aware of what is out there. Then let the conversations, music video lessons, and party remixes begin!
Good luck cultural crusaders!
What resources do you use to stay hip and relevant? Us old guys need all the help we can get!
PS: It was almost 6 months to the day when Justin Bieber released the youtube video at the top of the page which launched Carly Rae Jepsen's career to when Kidz Bop 22 was released.