In addition to a Bible, Catechism, and well-placed highlights, recent trends suggest that successful youth ministry also includes the incorporation of as much Apple brand technology as possible.
While the origin of this principle remains uncertain and is not directly cited in Renewing the Vision, many attribute the idea to Peter Pilaf’s groundbreaking seminar at St. Isidore University in the spring of 2004 where he dazzled undergraduates in attendance with slides from his MacBook. When asked about the content of the presentation, a sophomore theology major explained, “I don’t really remember, it was something about youth ministry or evangelization or whatever—I was just there for extra credit. But the graphics on Keynote were amazing. Evangelii Nuntiandi never looked that good on power point!”
The trend had already gained momentum but was confirmed when a popular presenter known only as “The Scripture Nerd,” cited scripture passages using an iPhone rather than a paper bible. When asked about his choice for the new medium, he responded,
“It’s easy to search, I can quickly get to a specific chapter and verse, the binding never gets loose, and if I spill some of my latte on it there won’t be a stain. The only downside is that the battery life on these things is terrible. I never had that problem with the paper version.”
At a St. John Bosco conference later that summer, a Franciscan Sister queuing up the Huron Carol on her iTunes playlist to illustrate the use of music in the classroom decreed the brand “catechetical” — prophetic since Pope Benedict XVI would eventually send his first tweet from a white iPad, a clear statement that use of Apple products could be seen as offering finer “lights along the path of faith” – as only a highly defined mega-pixeled touch screen can.
While authorities in the field remain unable to explain exactly why a text or tweet from an iPhone has greater potential to evangelize than those sent from a Droid, it is a mandate in youth ministry. Even for those wearing the standardized uniform of TOM’s, skinny jeans and an unnecessary scarf, if one is seen using a Blackberry at NCCYM they are assumed to be there as “adult volunteers” and must produce notarized letters from their parish priest verifying that they are in fact employed as full-time youth ministers to receive the proper credentials.
Bloggers speculate that it is a desire to “redeem the apple,” and “stick it to the devil” that has led so many leaders in ministry to use technology named for a symbol of original sin entering the world as a tool for evangelization.
There remain a few who defy the trend, insisting on data-free flip-phones, which can only store sent messages with the aid of a memory card. When asked how these youth ministers kept up without the aid of Facebook or Twitter apps, teens explained, “they do this thing where they ask me how I am doing. It’s kind of weird — like, none of my friends are into that but it’s sort of cool. And when you think about it, like, Jesus probably didn’t have an iPhone either. At least not the 4S – I don’t think it was out back then.”
Question: What creative methods do you use to reach out to teens at your parish?