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Reaching the Facebook Generation



Reaching the Facebook Generation Theme of Communications Conference

February 13, 2009
- John Longhurst with Dan Dyck

WINNIPEG — Mike Tennant, co-creator and co-producer of the popular CBC Radio One show The Age of Persuasion, will be the keynote speaker at the May 15, 2009 Going Barefoot II conference for Christian communicators at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg.

Tennant, a veteran writer and broadcaster based in Kitchener, Ont. will address the conference theme of “Reaching the Facebook Generation.” He will be joined by Gayle Goosen, founder and owner of Barefoot Creative, also in Kitchener, Ont., who will share the results of a survey of youth media habits conducted for the Going Barefoot II conference.

"The Facebook generation is very much like the rich young man who asked Christ what he must do to have eternal life," says Tennant. "When he didn't like what he heard, he 'changed channels' and left."

At the same time, he adds, "the Facebook generation can spot a phoney almost instantly. That's a peril for inauthentic brands, who are exposed, vilified, virtually tarred, virtually feathered, and shown the door. But that also gives Christianity a head-start. After all, what's more authentic than the love of Christ?"

Tennant has a wealth of experience in communication, having been involved in the field since 1977 when he wrote a weekly youth/humour column for Toronto's Sunday Star. In the 1980s he was a copywriter for contemporary and alternative music radio stations in Regina, Calgary and Toronto; since the 1990s he's worked as a freelance ad copywriter winning Clio Awards and Gold Medals at the New York Advertising Festivals. Currently he works with colleague Terry O'Reilly to produce the highly popular series The Age of Persuasion. Now in its third season, it explores the countless ways advertising and marketing have permeated every aspect of 21st century culture.

Mike, his wife Lorrie, and their three teenagers attend Kitchener Mennonite Brethren Church, where he leads Christian education classes on media and current events.

Participants at the event will be among the first to learn the results of a research study Going Barefoot planners have commissioned. Using an online survey, organizers hope to learn more about the media habits of youth and young adults.

Dave Bergen, Executive Secretary of Christian Formation for Mennonite Church Canada, supports the event and the study. “I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the study. What if we learn that youth spend more time mediating conversations with one another through technology than they spend in face-to-face conversation? How will that inform the way youth ministry is done? Many youth pastors and leaders are very concerned about the younger generation’s media consumption habits, and are eager to learn more.”

Going Barefoot II is sponsored by CMU, Mennonite Church Canada, Mennonite Church Manitoba, MCC Canada and the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. Also attending the 2009 event will be members of the Canadian Church Press, which is holding its annual convention in conjunction with Going Barefoot II.

The first Going Barefoot conference for people who work in communications for churches or church-related organizations was a success. With over 135 people attending the event at CMU in October, 2007, attendance was 50% higher than anticipated. The keynote speaker was Reginald Bibby of the University of Lethbridge.

For more information, or to register, go to

Going Barefoot II Youth Survey

Do you use Facebook? Do you read any magazines or newspapers? What subjects are you interested in? Is the church and faith important to you?

The organizers of Going Barefoot II, a May 15 conference for church-related communicators, would like to know more about the media habits of youth today. Can you take a few minutes to fill out this survey? One person will be selected to win an iPod Touch as an expression of our thanks.

To participate in the survey, and be eligible to win the iPod Touch, go to

To learn more about Going Barefoot II, go to

Going Barefoot II is sponsored by Mennonite Church Canada, MCC Canada, Mennonite Church Manitoba, the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, Barefoot Creative and Canadian Mennonite University.