Dress Code

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J-Wild had a great blog about Youth Minister wear, thanks J. You can see it here. I have been meaning to post about it. I wanted to bring it up as a general question in regard to how you see digging in to your local culture and opening new doors to unchurched teens you are trying to reach.
I once read something about a youth minister who said that he bought new clothes once a month and that every youth minister should budget to do that so that he she can fit in with teens and the surrounding culture. What do you think?

Are there others pieces to culture - like music and other things that you think we should be familiar (and when I say familiar I mean enough to hold your own in conversation) with? Or do you think that just listening or wearing something to "open doors" makes you fake and non-authentic (word?)?

For instance, I have made it my business to know the buzz about all music which is popular and upcoming new groups. It helps open doors in conversations with teens that I might not other wise have. Share on...

5 Responses to “Dress Code”

  1. Blogger JD 

    I think this has to be answered individually. For instance, youth minister friend S. M. is 24 but could pass for 17. So he buys his clothes at the thrift shop. They all think he is cool. I am 41. If I dress like that for our teen outreach, I would be perceived as a clown. And a fat one. Double bad. I say be yourself. If you are just dressing in a hip and trendy way to connect, the teens I know will see right through that. It's the YOU inside that they need to know. LEARN all you can about their culture, BE yourself while you model the Christ-culture. Them's my thunks.

  2. Blogger CL 

    Good call, J.D. I couldn't agree more.

  3. Blogger J-Wild 

    JD, your beard is cool! How can we call our teens to have authentic relationships with Christ, their parents, friends, and themselves if we aren't being authentic with them in the first place. If you ask kids what they want in a youth minister the last thing they are going to mention is for their wardrobe to be trendy (unless you are already a trendy YM which in that case....go ahead with your bad self).

    I used to be amazed (circa 1993) at the ignorance of adults when they couldn't tell the difference between Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Nirvana, GNR, U2, and Stone Temple Pilots. I always thought I would never come to a point where I wouldn't know what's popular. Well today I am always one artist, one video game, and one movie behind (I just had a kid walk me through the in's and out's of God of War. That would have never of happened with The Legend Of Zelda SNES back in the day). I also just discovered EMO (formerlly called Alternative in the 90's) for goodness sake! And I watch MTV, VH1, and surf the web A LOT!

    I think CL brings up a good distinction in his post. There are things within youth culture that you must have some working knowledge about in order to engage in conversation. If that conversation is more like fact-finding then that's fine, you don't have to "know it all" especially if you don't.

    Then there are those things that are a part of youth culture that you love as much as the teens do. Sometimes even if the thing you love doesn't necessarily gel too well with some aspects of your Christianity. Instead of just holding your own in a conversation, you actually are experiencing that part of their culture with them because you love it as much as they do.

    I know about 50 Cent and The Game, but I sing Dashboard Confessionals and Usher at the top of my lungs in the van with all the other teens. I take a moral stand against GTA, but I love to play Halo 2 on my X-Box with anyone who wants to get fragged!

    I know a Youth Minister who took some of his kids to see Jay-Z in concert (with parents permission). He loves Jay-Z and has big problems with Jay-Z. These particular kids love Jay-Z and have no problems with Jay-Z. Together they went and experienced a concert and reflected on it afterwards...together. He was authentic in his love and dislike for Jay-Z. Because he authentically shared this with his kids they gave him a greater influnce in being heard than they otherwise would have. And no he didn't get in trouble or fired.

    We should strive for an authenticity that allows us to be real and gives teens confidence in trusting our voice and motives.

    (sorry so long)

  4. Blogger CL 

    Right on J, I am a huge emo fan, and it has really helped me in a lot of situations. The one thing I keep coming back to and you mentioned this, is authenticity. Just being real and honest. I love the Jay-Z thing, while I am not a fan, I appreciate the whole idea. Great stuff!

  5. Blogger JD 

    So...EMO is not washed-up 80s comic Emo Phillips?

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