3 Reactions to Trends and How They Can Shape What You Do

Ben Marshall
September 28th, 2021

Eating tide pods.

Nacho table.

Mustard on watermelon. 

Showing your goofy side.

Viral Trends are here to stay.

I realize that looks like an oxymoron. A trend that is here to stay? Well, yes and no. The specific trends will change. But I think the principle of the viral trend will stick around for quite awhile. It has become a mainstay on social media. And, since the majority of our students have smart devices and social media accounts, or friends with those things, viral trends will be something they will know about, participate in, and maybe want to try. 

The trend will ever change but there will always be a trend. Viral trends are here to stay.

Here are three ways to react to trends and how they can shape what you do in ministry

One, not every trend is a value add to your ministry

Sometimes we can try to be “too cool” in a disingenuous way. Remember “on fleek”? That was an odd one, huh? But wow, was it popular in a lot of areas! I’m not sure if you used that language at all in your ministry, but it would be hard to do that in a genuine way. It’s pretty obvious we would be trying to fit in, be cool, know our trends and try to speak their language. 

Don’t feel bad or left out if you miss a trend or don’t include it in what you do. Youth ministry is not meant to be trendy, but to disciple teenagers to build a faith that lasts. At times we can use trends, but not every trend is a value add to your ministry.

Sometimes trying to hop on a trend can fail pretty easily. Sometimes trying to hop on a trend can go over super well. Wisdom and discernment are needed. 

Quick discernment, though, because that specific trend won’t last long!

Two, know the trend well before you implement the trend

One other caution toward trends is to make sure you know the trend, where it came from, and it’s motivation before you use it. There are good trends that come from bad beginnings that have been co-opted for good; and there are bad trends that have come from good beginnings but have been co-opted for bad. There are some trendy words that can mean one thing in one context and something completely different, and derogatory, in a different context. For example, we had a group of middle school students (from a local Christian school) using a specific word at a Fall Retreat that, in certain contexts, was really a pretty harsh and negative word. When we asked them what they meant by that word, their definition and understanding was far different from what the broader understanding and definition was. So we had that conversation about language and using a trendy word can mean something different than intended depending on the context.

Knowing the trends is really helpful in understanding teenage culture at this time. Even if you don’t implement any trends or use them in your ministry, being aware of them is helpful in engaging conversations and knowing the world of the teenagers we serve and disciple. 

Three, have fun with it!

Some trends are just plain silly and fun. Get on board and have some fun!

If you are disgusted by mustard, your students may just love to see you do the mustard and watermelon trend because of the genuine reaction they would get from you! 

If you have a small group get together, your small group will long remember a huge table full of nachos. And even better, they will remember making it with you and the silliness and fun of the whole experience! 

Not every trend will be worth it, but sometimes using a new trend in your ministry can breathe a fresh breath of humor and enjoyment into the group that enhances relationships and builds bridges to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Teenagers like to have fun. Sometimes it can be exhausting trying to come up with group activities or games that are fresh and new…what if trends informed some of those activities? What if we became students of trends, discerning what trend we could follow with integrity and character; discerning what trend may work in our context; discerning what trend may have the biggest value add and just simply be fun to do together? 

Ben Marshall

Ben Marshall is a Pastor at Pathway Church in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. He works with middle and high school students. He is passionate about leadership and raising up the next generation of Jesus-followers. He is a blogger, woodworking hobbyist, guitar player and sports enthusiast. Ben currently resides in Beaver Falls with his wife Connie and their two daughters, Aliya and Sophie.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.