Get that Teen to Talk
Pastor Jordan happened upon this great site for youth ministry and wanted to pass it on as a parent resource:
Popular culture is always changing and there is something new this week that is probably affecting the life of your teenager. How do you stay up to date on current trends? How do you get educated about what is going on in your teenagers life and what is influencing them?
If you want something that is bite sized and easy to digest, check out www.axis.org and sign up under their culture translator heading for a weekly email with what is the latest and greatest affecting your teens life. Here is a sample from a week ago.
Three Things This Week: Super Bowl Edition
With over 110 million U.S. viewers (12 million between ages 2 and 18) and 16.9 million tweets, the Super Bowl is the unofficial holiday of pop culture. The commercials ($5 million for 30 seconds) and the halftime show offer a glimpse into the world in which your students are growing up. There is probably no greater indication of what is influencing students than the messages surrounding the US’s biggest game.
- Queen Bey
What It Is: Beyoncé took the field in “Formation” with a crew of dancers symbolically dressed as Black Panthers, making a controversial statement about racism in the US. She also used the opportunity to promote her provocative new video and to announce her upcoming world tour.
Why It’s Important: Beyoncé slayed half-time, with the top-tweeted minute of Super Bowl 50 coming right after her performance. Clearly, people are paying attention to her, and she knows it, which is why she strategically used this stage and her influence to communicate specific ideas. But do students have the critical thinking skills necessary to analyze her messages and determine their veracity? If not, this is a great opportunity to continue teaching them!
Why It’s Good: Despite the backlash, the ad exposed millions of viewers to an ultrasound of an unborn baby, showing it as fully human, not just a blob of cells. As silly as the commercial was, it’s a great discussion starter about the rhetoric surrounding abortion and the unborn. Do your students know the facts about the development of babies inside the womb? Why is NARAL’s reaction and verbiage important?
We’ve also created a virtual training called “Life” that will equip your students to embrace God’s view of life. It’s designed for schools, churches, and families. Visit Axis Virtual to learn more!
- Manning’s “Commercial”
Why It’s Important: In a culture rife with celebrity “Christians,” it’s interesting that Manning was so specific about his beer while being so cliché about his deity. As a professing Christian, Manning’s endorsement of binge drinking as the normal way to celebrate success is dangerous and confusing to a generation of Christian teens who might not be as discerning toward him because Peyton is perceived as “one of the good guys.”
Bonus: Valentine’s Day
Sunday is Love Day, aka Pressure/Anticipation/Disappointment/Rejection/Elation Day. Teens especially feel these emotions very keenly, in large part because they’ve been targeted since childhood with the message that fulfillment only comes through romantic love. For many, romance has become their highest purpose in life. Of course, we know that romance, with all its gifts, can never fully satisfy. But students don’t just need us to tell them to stop focusing on it or to wait until they’re older; they need us to help them see the truth that only God’s story (which may or may not include romance, but encompasses so much more) brings utter contentment and flourishing. And we shouldn’t just do this around Valentine’s Day; we need to help them recapture a true vision of satisfaction and happiness throughout the year.
“Four or five moments. That’s all it takes to be a hero.” — Colossus
If you have students who want to see the newly released Deadpool film, you may be wondering where you went wrong. After all, every negative adjective one can think of–irreverent, vulgar, gory, immoral, explicit, dysfunctional–applies to the movie. Yet, at the same time, it’s hilarious, hopeful, well-made, interesting, and unique. Which is why it has the makings of a cult classic and why many students will beg to see it.
Where it hits home the most is the antihero, someone who isn’t necessarily “good” but is willing to do whatever’s necessary to beat the really bad guys. It’s a classic end-justifies-the-means set up, one that audiences today identify with much more than yesteryear’s good-guy hero. Why? Because we all recognize, on some level, that evil is becoming more evil, and can only be defeated by desperate measures. The lesson from Deadpool is that as long as you help the “good” guys win, how you do it doesn’t matter. Four or five moments are all that matter.
It’s true: We live in a time when darkness is cunning and powerful. Our world is full of hard decisions, like whether to murder murderers, rapists, and terrorists or risk more evil by giving them a second chance. And our need for heroes couldn’t be more apparent. Yet it’s a false paradox to claim that evil will continue to win unless we, too, become evil for a good cause.
Instead, we’re part of a narrative that ends with evil being vanquished for eternity by Pure Goodness. And through the death of His Son, we also have the power to triumph over evil within and without every single day, until the final victory. Though we couldn’t in good faith recommend the film for your teens/young adults, if they do see it, it’s a great opportunity to talk about how God offers a third way of overcoming evil that is more creative than our fight-or-flight paradigm that always ends up justifying our means. In God’s story, the means are the end. In many ways, Jesus himself is the true antihero: a savior who would rather die for His enemies than kill them; who saved the world through suffering, not conquering; who confronted violence and injustice without resorting to violence and injustice. Instead of an antihero who merely embodies the character traits of our enemy, Jesus radically challenges our notions of what it means to resist evil through redemptive suffering.
The Culture Insider
Want to go deeper into student culture? Then check out The Culture Insider for a list of the top 20+ things that impacted your students this week!