A Young Man Among Sharks: Teens In The Blogosphere

November 20, 2007 — 13 Comments

Not that long ago I was invited to write a chapter in a book on blogging. Sadly, this book didn’t quite make it through the process of being published. But it did deliver what I consider some great time for me to write and some great material in the process as I was forced to sit down and write about teenagers and blogging — a topic that I’m certain many of you know is something I blog about often. So, from this time of writing came
“A Young Man Among Sharks: Teens In The Blogosphere,” a five page treatise on my views of social networking sites and the rest.

I’d love to hear your feedback.

Tim Sweetman

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Tim Sweetman is a young writer, blogger, and student who lives near our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. He has been much more widely known by his “code-name,” Agent Tim. This name also served as the name of his popular blog, which received over 750,000 visits between 2005 to 2007. In 2005, he quickly rose to become a leading teenage spokesperson and cultural critic within the booming blogosphere, taking on issues such as MySpace, alcohol, homeschooling, pride, racism, tolerance, and other topics relating to our culture today. His blog has come to the attention of people such as Albert Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Alex and Brett Harris, and La Shawn Barber. Tim’s written work has appeared in Lifeway’s Living With Teenagers (February 2012), Lookout Magazine, FUSION Magazine, The Brink Online, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Virtue Magazine, Regenerate Our Culture Online Magazine, and on many other blogs and websites across the internet like Marry Well and the Lies Young Women Believe Blog. He has also been featured in WORLD Magazine, The Towers Magazine, and Maryland Newsline. He is scheduled to have an article appear in Veritas Magazine this December. Most recently, his work can be found on Focus on the Family’s Boundless Webzine. His personal interests include writing (surprise!) and sports, both watching and playing. He is a die-hard Washington Redskins fan.

13 responses to A Young Man Among Sharks: Teens In The Blogosphere

  1. Excellent work.

    The church is losing 80% of those who grow up in it. There is little in the way of effective evangelism going on among those under 25, and particularly among those under 18. There is a serious disconnect, and as the generation past 60, which makes up over half of the active membership of today’s evangelical Christian churches, dies off, they will take 70% of the church’s financial resources with them.

    I have my own theories as to why this is happening, much of it based on observation from having served as a youth pastor and a teacher and administrator in Christian schools for 30 years. I won’t go into all of that here, though I may do a blog article on my own blog about it in the future. I think we need to figure out how to keep our young people from leaving the church when they go off to college, and I think young people like you can contribute tremendously to helping the church figure out how to solve this problem. I think there are a lot of good points in what you have written here.

    I don’t think the solution lies completely in something the church needs to do for its youth, though I think some of the problems may be there. I think the church needs to do a lot better job in family ministry, helping parents to be parents, instead of spoiling their kids. Well, I’m on a soapbox now, I guess.

    I’d like to hear what you think the church needs to do.

  2. Lee,
    First, thanks for the comment. I’ve been neglecting the blog far too much, and it’s surprising to see a comment around this time of year. Thanks for taking the time to do that.

    Really, the “solution” for what the church (and possibly our denomination) needs to do would take a lot more than just one single comment. But I would say this — we need to stay true to God’s infallible Word, and return to the centrality of the gospel (e.g., Together For the Gospel). We need to take some pointers from men like C.J. Mahaney, who is one of the greatest examples of humility that I know of.

    I could go on and on (and I’m certain I will at some point), but I don’t think the “solution” is simple to say the least. What we need to be careful of is accepting liberal theology in an effort to reach out to the world and begin to change it. Really, it’s tough. I would shy away from things like the New Baptist Covenant and lean towards things that are all about solidifying our theology by keeping the cross at the forefront. When our eyes are on Jesus, we’re going to be reaching this world correctly.

  3. I also would add this — a huge reason for teenagers leaving the church is weak, watered down theology. It is also a deemphasis on the importance of parents in their lives during that time period. Really, “youth group” should be about equipping parents to do their job — parenting. So, when that starts happening, we should see a decline in the amount of those leaving the church.

  4. Hi Tim,
    My name is Michael Hichborn, and I’m the media director for American Life League. I am currently contacting pro-life and Catholic bloggers all across the internet in a concerted effort to more effectively spread the word through what is being termed “the new media.” As such, I was hoping we could send our video releases to you for posting on your blog. I have recently established a regular webcast for American Life League, and I would be most honored if you would share it with your readers as they come out (approximately, every 2 weeks). If you are interested in this, please e-mail me at [email protected] and let me know. If not, just e-mail me and ask me not to bother you anymore.
    Thanks, and God bless!
    –Michael

  5. #4 ABOVE:
    So, if we just pounded theology into the heads of our youth, they would make it through the after high school years being active in church? This was not my experience and it does not seem to me that it should be expected. I plan to be back and say more.

    What sort of theology? What does this mean in practice? GTG

    Bennett Willis

  6. What kind of theology?

    This is what I’m thinking of when I say that (mp3 of a sermon from Youth Sunday at Covenant Life.) Check it out and tell me what you think — maybe it will clear of the conversation here just a little bit. Also, check out the chapter linked to in the post for some more thoughts as well.

  7. Also, check out this comment from Deep In the Heart.

  8. #5, Bennett,
    The negative way you have expressed this, “pounding” theology into kids, indicates your bias. I’m not talking about “pounding” anything into them. That’s certainly not the counsel that the Bible’s writers give, either.

    Deutoronomy 6:1-2, “These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.” (NIV)

    “Teaching” involves living by example as well as just learning the content. It isn’t a matter of “pounding” anything in, it is a matter of setting an example, of parents being the parents that God calls them to be, taking responsibility for their children’s upbringing, and being responsible for their spiritual growth. Too many parents leave too many decisions up to their kids before they are ready, don’t provide them with the supervision and gentle discipline they need, and don’t practice spiritual disciplines in their home. Affluence has allowed children all kinds of choices for “activity,” and many parents think that is the way to keep their kids out of trouble. They have little time to “write the principles of God’s word” on their hearts.

    I see so many kids who are led at a very young age to “make a decision for Christ,” but they are never taught exactly what that means. Most kids raised in church these days are Biblically illiterate, they know a few pet phrases and concepts, and that’s it. When they walk into a college philosophy classroom, and their beliefs are challenged, they know little of what they actually do believe, and nothing of how to defend it against intellectual attack. They do not know scripture, or how to interpret it. Their faith has no foundation, and they easily fall away, in most cases, never to return because they’ve never really been convinced and they didn’t have solid examples of faith to turn to.

    Those young people I’ve met who have stayed faithful, and have not left their faith or their church have two things in common. They had a loving, stable relationship with parents who were involved in their lives and taught them the principles of God’s word, and their beliefs and values were drawn from their knowledge of, trust in, and belief in the scriptures.

  9. Hey Tim,

    I read your “treatise,” and loved it! It was just the right blend of sarcasm and sincerity, humor and earnestness, organized in a clear and presentable way. Good thoughts, and good work! I’ll be keeping in mind your points as I begin blogging.

    Interesting discussion going on here. My two cents worth is about the same; the church is losing it’s youth because of a lack of accountable, family based, orthodox discipleship. “I, like, really love Jesus, man!” is not going to satisfy the liberal college professor, nor will it turn away doubt. We NEED to start treating the youth as responsible adults – not merely as people that will up the church membership if they can be entertained enough.

    Valerie

  10. I find it quite scary the way you link things together. A teenager who parties is one who is immoral and sinful and commits immoral acts. Where is the evidence???

    I know plenty of people at my college who like going to parties every now and then – these people get up at 5.30 in the morning, ready for a 2 hour bus journey, they work hard at all their subjects, spending many hours in the library and still reach their deadlines. They also happen to be some of the nicest people around as well, although they might not know you well, they ask how you are and what you are up to, how your work is going etc. Just because they like having an alcoholic drink or going to parties doesn’t make them immoral or sinful. I also know several teenagers who don’t drink and still like going to parties.

    I hope that one day you can maybe overcome the prejudice you obviously feel for teenagers, you catagorise people too easily and associate them with things that aren’t there. In the end you will miss out on the oppurtunity to meet many fantastic young people who could become treasured, much-love friends. Best of luck,
    Anon

  11. Anon, which may be your really name or a shorten phrase for “Anonymous”, I do not know.

    I do not believe that Tim is saying that every person who go to a party is evil. Partying is not even the point of the article. Immorality and partying is just a generalization based on the majority of what goes in parties.

    Then there is the question of what you consider immoral to be. You may not see you friends that go to parties as immoral because you are not basing morality on the Biblical definition of right and wrong.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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