Popular entertainment permeates our culture. That's why we must mimic the Bereans (Acts 17:10-12), examining what we see and hear beside the Word of God to discern what to accept, reject or avoid. Use these questions to talk about pop culture with your teens and help them develop their own biblical filter.
Building 429 “Where I Belong”
From the album “Listen to the Sound”
Where you’ve heard it: If you’ve tuned into a Christian radio station in the last four months, you’ve undoubtedly heard this song, which started its reign at #1 in February and (as of press time) hasn’t relinquished its grip.
Topic: In the world but not of it
Theme: The singer feels like he doesn’t belong in this world because his true home is with Jesus in heaven.
• What is the singer talking about in the song?
• Do you relate to the tension the singer describes? If so, how do you deal with it?
• What does the singer mean when he “wants to be found” with Jesus? Do you think he’s giving a church answer or genuine desire? Explain.
• Read John 17:6-19 out loud. Will someone put what Jesus said in your own words?
• What implications do Jesus’ words have for your own life?
• How might a Christian mistakenly live too far in our future “home?”
• How might a Christian live too much in the present world?
• What does a proper “in the world but not of it” balance look like in real life?
Gotye “Somebody I Used to Know”
From the album “Making Mirrors”
Where you’ve heard it: The smash hit from the Belgian-Australian sensation has topped the charts around the world as well as numerous charts here in the States (including Pop, Rock, Alternative and Dance).
Topic: Death of a relationship
Theme: The singer laments the harsh treatment he has experienced from the person he used to date in the wake of their break up.
• Can you relate to what either of the singers are feeling? If so, why?
• Do you think people can stay friends after they break up? Why or why not?
• In your experience, how do people hurt each other after they break up?
• Read Psalm 9:7-14 out loud.
• How can a person praise God while hurting?
• How might turning the person who hurt you over to God help bring healing?
• How can we support someone who is hurting from a break up?
• What can a hurting person do to draw closer to God in painful times?
MOVIE CLIP ILLUSTRATIONS
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (PG-13)
Topic: Sacrificial Love
Scripture: John 15:9-14
Clip Location: 22:45 – 24:15 (DVD Chapter 3)
Synopsis: Colonel Phillips complains about Steve Rogers’ obvious weaknesses, claiming "you can’t win a war with niceness." To make his point, the colonel tosses a grenade into the exercising squad. All the soldiers flee except Rogers, who covers the explosive with his own body to protect his friends. (Note: Col. Phillips says “hell.”)
Biblical Application: Steve Rogers perfectly exemplifies Jesus’ command to love others so recklessly and passionately that we willingly lay down our own life. (Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t require anything of us that He didn’t do Himself to perfection.) This clip will help point teens beyond the shallow media images of “love” toward the authentic picture of Christ’s sacrificial example on the cross.
• Do you think you would’ve jumped on the grenade or run away? Explain.
• How did Steve Rogers show love with his actions?
• What actions do you usually associate with showing “love?”
• Read John 15:9-14 out loud. What actions does Jesus say show love?
• What are all the different ways that Jesus “loved” us?
• How do we love other people like Jesus loved us?
• What are some ways you can “lay down your life” for your friends this week?
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:12-21
Clip Location: 1:18:15 – 1:21:00 (DVD Chapter 11)
Synopsis: Hugo comments how the bookseller Monsieur Labisse has real purpose in life. Isabelle fears she’ll never know her purpose. Hugo shows her the Paris streets filled with people. Just as a machine has the exact number of necessary parts, he believes every person is necessary and has a purpose.
Biblical Application: Teens feel great pressure to uncover “what they will do with their life.” Remind them all God’s children serve a definite, specific purpose in building up God’s Kingdom and family.
• Do you ever question your purpose? Why or why not?
• Where does pressure come from for you to discover a life “purpose?” How do you typically react to this pressure?
• Why doesn’t God make a person’s purpose blatantly obvious?
• Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-21out loud. How do Paul’s words make you feel?
• What do these verses say about purpose?
• How can our church encourage people in finding purpose? Does our church discourage people in their purpose? Explain.
• How might finding your purpose in God also help you find purpose in life?
“The Truman Show” (PG) may have been released almost 15 years ago, but it was incredibly prescient about where “entertainment” was heading. Jim Carrey stars as Truman Burbank, a man longing to break free from his perceived mundane existence who has absolutely no idea that everything he does has been broadcast live 24/7 since his birth. Everyone, including his wife Meryl (Laura Linney) and best friend Marlon (Noah Emmerich), are actually actors cast to be part of Truman’s life. Christof (Ed Harris), the show’s creator and director, does everything in his godlike power to prevent Truman from ever uncovering the truth about his situation.
This delightful, heartfelt and inventive film provides tremendous opportunity for prompting a spiritual discussion with teens:
• Why was Truman unhappy if the whole world was centered around him?
• If you were Truman would you have left the show at the end? Why?
• How did you feel about Christof?
• Christof was similar to Satan as the “prince” of Truman’s world, who kept nudging Truman in the wrong direction, blinding Truman to the truth about his imprisonment and always telling partial truths. How does Satan blind humanity today?
• How was Truman similar to people who don’t know the truth of God?
• What are some ways we might help people see God even if they’re completely blind to His existence?