Props to MTV

It's rare that I get to say this, but MTV has done the youth ministry community a great service with a study that Youth Specialties' Update linked to today, on youth activism.

In this PDF file, presented PowerPoint style with slides of sound bytes and facts found by the study, MTV talked to teens about why they help their communities, what got them involved and how these kids are building a lifetime of service.

When I ask these questions I get a lot of "from the book" answers, because kids know what I want to hear. There may be some of that at work here too, but overall this study reads well. It's supporting a lot of things we've known in ministry for a while, but that the larger community is now starting to be aware of, and it reminds us that we're in a trend where young people want to make a difference, to do something that matters in the long run, and we have the perfect opportunity for them to grow.

A couple of factoids from the study:
  • Highly involved teens got their start volunteering before age 12. (pg. 24)
  • 35% of respondents in the study said that lack of encouragement is a barrier to getting involved. (pg. 23)
  • 25% who answered the study would write letters to politicians, business leaders or editors. (I found that interesting because those things are perceived as more "cranky old person" activities.)

And on page 26 of an MTV sponsored study, the quote:

"God. God commands you to help other people. I mean, that's what He says. All the gods, whatever god of your choosing, they all say you should help others." Weakly put, and truly postmodern, but still a start. The awareness that service to others is a command, not an option, makes me hopeful.

HT to Youth Specialties for the link. Let's go get activising.

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