I have connected deeply with Michael Wesch’s work at Kansas State University. He has put together some marvelous work on the ways that students learn (or don’t learn) today and the ways that the educational system is not meeting students where they are at. On his blog, he recently posted a re-visiting of his “Vision of Students Today” video and goes into a bit more depth about how the piece was put together. Even more importantly, he examines the ways that his incredibly popular courses at KSU are subject to the same issues that he lifts up in the VST video. Before reading further, check out the video and his most recent post…
Its not a perfect analogy, but I think there is validity to replacing “educational system” (or its variations) in Wesch’s work with “the church.” I think that many congregations and denominations are struggling with many of the same things as the educational system in trying to impart information, learnings, experiences, and so forth with emerging generations that are clearly engaging the world in very different ways than previous generations.
I personally find myself having my feet in two different generational patterns. As one born in what is considered the early days of “Gen-X”, I vividly remember the first time my Dad brought home our first computers (IBM PC XT and a Commodore VIC-20)and becoming immediately entranced. I spent countless hours playing the old text based adventure games (Colossal Cave and the many Infocom classics), early graphical games, learning to program in BASIC, LOGO, and FORTRAN, and doing anything else I could possibly find. My first year of college (1991) was the time when the Internet started entering the mainstream. I jumped on the internet with my first UNIX PINE based email address, using MOSAIC to browse the early web, and so forth. My tech experience has grown along with the growth and changes in technology and education.
Moving into the realm of the church, I have also grown to realize that I have had to create a great deal of my own ways of engaging Scripture. I find that I have to find visual cues in Scripture (either mentally or doing google image searches) to connect with the words of Scripture. I have created new ways of expressing the Gospel in my worship context in order to not only engage people differently with the life changing message of Christ, but also to try to connect the Gospel for people in new ways. This concept also became the central focus of my doctoral thesis as I recognized how seminaries are missing how to engage students in new ways not only of teaching them, but also in how to help them engage their future congregations.
I think the church would be well served by listening to the voices of people like Michael Wesch and others who are saying that its time for something new if we are going to reach future generations – whether in the academic setting or in places of worship.