“I don’t know why you spend any time looking at pop culture. All you need to know is in the Bible!”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that accusation. Just last week I blogged about the number one song teenagers are listening too and received criticism for even bringing it to attention.
Is pop culture something we even need to pay attention to?
The Apostle Paul did. In Acts, Chapter 17, Paul went to Athens. While he was waiting for others, he did his normal routine, walking around the city and learning about the culture of the people he wanted to reach.
As Paul took in his secular surroundings, his reaction is noteworthy:
- He was distressed: Paul walked around Athens looking at the idols and listening to the pagan poets; and verse 16 cites “he was distressed” with what he observed. I don’t know about you, but I can relate to that. When I look at what young people are gleaning from today’s music, the over-consumption (dare I say addiction) of social media, or even the way young girls are choosing to dress today… as a parent of three teenagers, I’m distressed! The question is, how should adults respond?
- He used their culture as a discussion springboard to get to the Gospel: Some people might have expected Paul to start knocking idols over and kicking Athenian butt. Instead, Paul reasoned with them in the synagogues and in the marketplace. And when he began to talk to the crowds in that famous speech on Mars Hill, he started with their culture, using it to open the door to talk about Jesus. He basically said, Hey guys, I notice you are really religious—I can see that by all the idols you worship. You’ve been even worshipping an idol to an unknown God. Funny, I know who that is—this God that you’ve been worshipping all along. His name is Jesus!
Paul goes on to quote the pagan poets (which would be like using music lyrics today as a discussion springboard) and shares about Jesus.
What kind of walls will we ever break down with overreaction? Possibly, today’s parents, youth workers and adult mentors need to consider turning their overreaction into interaction.
Youth Culture guru and Christ follower Walt Mueller encourages his fellow Christ followers to start their day with “the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other, that way we can know what’s happening in the world and how we can both pray and speak God’s unchanging truth to meet that specific situation or need.”
Are you familiar with what is consuming young people’s time and interest? How can you use this reach them with the Gospel? That’s what Paul did.
Jonathan McKee, president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of a dozen books including Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent, and youth ministry books like the new More 10-Minute Talks, Ministry By Teenagers, and the award winning book Do They Run When They See You Coming? Jonathan speaks and trains at conferences, churches and events across North America, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three teenagers Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live in California.