Growing Pains of the Achy Breaky Heart

By Dan Istvanik


“Growing Pains of the Achy Breaky Heart and 4 Other Thoughts About the VMAs


What must Alan Thicke (the father “Growing Pains” and the father of Robin Thicke) and Billy Ray Cyrus (the father from “Hannah Montana” and Miley Cyrus)have been thinking as their two children took the stage last night at the MTV Video Music Awards.  Miley taking the stage in her immodest teddy bear outfit twerking it for all she thinks she is worth.  Robin then joining her on stage to further “blur the lines” of censorship, appropriateness and what is and is not music.

The worse question for us in youth ministry is what were our students thinking and what are they thinking now as the highlights of the night blow up the media world.  As we work with the young women and young men of our youth ministries going through the “growing pains” of spiritual maturity, will this just further “blur the lines” of who God has created them to be in His image.  I know for me as a Jr. High/Middle school youth pastor it just breaks my heart for both my students and for a world that needs hope.

Thinking Outside the Box, Inside the Box.

In her effort to continue to be artistic and edgy, Lady Gaga tried to think outside the box by literally starting off the show in a box…at least her head.   Quite honestly, that is pretty much sums it up, Lady Gaga once again kept her head “in the box”.  Her tired, worn out dance routines and simply, ridiculous on-stage wardrobe changes as she started off the night were just unfortunate.  Staying true to form she kept the most ridiculous outfit on, a shell string bikini, the rest of the night as she sat in her seat watching the rest of show.   All very much the same as previous shows, performances and appearances from the last couple years.  All though many will call it genius or artistic, realistically it is nothing new.

The problem for us, as we approach the students in our ministry that are artistic and creative is that is what is being given the biggest stage.    So, where is the stage inside our ministries that is applauding and cheering on real God given talents? Beyond the church-safe expressions of the worship band.  Are we giving students a space to “think outside the box”? Maybe it might be time for us to remove our head from the box as well, as we start off our a new year of ministry?

Keep It Classy…Brooklyn

In the middle of the 2 hours allotted for the VMAs, Justin Timberlake was given a full 10 minutes to try to “Take Back the Night”.  Whether you like him, his music, or fully approve of his lyrical content, Justin came on and kept it classy.   Dressed in a suit, tie and keeping his hands and body to himself compared to the other performances, He showed a wide variety of talents. He even for a brief moment rejoined his former band mates from N-Sync to bring the place to a roar and later on when accepting an award thanked them and gave credit where credit was due.

While Justin may not be the poster child for the life we want our students to live, he at least was better compared to the rest?  For our students and even for some other youth pastors, he has been around awhile. He shows that if you have talent and are willing to not lower yourself to the lowest common denominator you can actually have a long successful career.  Maybe that is a lesson for just us as youth pastor/workers/leaders?  Stay classy, don’t lower yourself to lowest cultural point you can, to keep relevant and hip, you might just last a little longer than anyone expected?

Jesus Walks to Who?

It has been a while since “Jesus Walked” with Kayne, and maybe Kayne walked with Jesus.  For some reason however Kayne West has decided that his 6th studio album as well as himself will be called “Yeesus”?  Maybe he’s just trying to “Keep Up with the Kardasians” or maybe he really does think “I Am God”?  His profanity-laced performance of “Blood on the Leaves” was a “C” at best, proving that he is just not all that he thinks he is.   Even having himself introduced by the “Yeesus” name seemed a bit forced and cheesy.  I think he should take a break, go spend some time with the new baby and maybe “…take a breath…live and learn”?

In the ever changing landscape of culture that our students live in, we need to continue to be aware of the muddled mess they live in.  Kayne is just another example of taking on “The Name” but not living the life or representing it.   May we continue to challenge our students to up hold “The Name” and “Keep it Holy” as much as we up hold the life and seek to be Holy!

Same Love=No Love

As the double whammy insult of the night to the church and Christianity was the award given for and the performance of “Same Love”.   Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis literally raised the flag for gay marriage while they lowered the hammer on the church and Christians to a cheering, screaming crowd.  The song not only was performed but also was given the award for the “Best Song with a Social Message”.  While the song proclaims love and tolerance it certainly did not give any love or tolerance to those of us who are Christian or attend church.   The song quotes a tiny little bit I Corinthians 13 and inter-twines it with the hook of “crying on Sunday” as a counter-balance of the love and hate of the church.

As people of love and seeking to love, I do not want to hate on Mackelmore or Ryan Lewis. I seriously feel bad and would like to apologize for the hate and mix messages you have receive from the people of God.  That being said I am really concerned and sadden because of the popularity of the duos’ previous songs, this song and message will be making its way into our student’s lives, hearts, and ears?

As I look back at the two hours that my wife and I struggled to watch and listen to this year’s VMAs, it reaffirms in my mind and heart, why I do what I do!    While I know and respect many youth pastors/leader/workers that chose not to watch last night, we chose to watch in order to lean in on the culture that will be influencing and shaping our youth and youth ministry year.   Let us continue to watch and pray, we have a long year ahead, the VMAs landed just in time for us hopefully to get a wake-up call!!?


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