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Music youth ministry

Firework by Katy Perry

Gosh, I really love the message of this video.

I want to encourage youth workers to watch this video twice. Watch it the first time with your adult glasses on. Get annoyed that there are fireworks shooting out of her chest or two boys kissing or even that a girl strips down and jumps in a pool.

Those are the things you are trained to see as an adult.

The second time, put on the glasses of a high school student. Remember what it was like to be one of the people portrayed in the video. Feeling out of sorts. Feeling unpopular. Feeling isolated from the world you wanted to be a part of.

Perhaps now you can see why this message is so powerful? (More than 500,000 views in 24 hours!) Perhaps, just perhaps, Katy Perry is preaching a message you’d also like to get across?

Maybe she’s a prophetess to a generation? (And doing it outside of being a part of the church? Gasp.)

Perhaps we need to learn that her use of art and symbolism to communicate to students is something we need to think about way more than just the spoken word? Perhaps we need to continue to foster ministries that embrace and empower students to express themselves and feel safe? Perhaps we need to celebrate when students break free of peer pressure that’s keeping them down or isolating them and dance with them as they embrace freedom? Maybe the message of this video could be a halfway point to talking about freedom in Christ?

When I see people in youth ministry looking down on the powerful messages the media is portraying, I get frustrated in the realization that the church continues to perpetrate the same old lie. “If it isn’t our message shared in our way, it must be bad.” (This is a closed theory, like I talked about here.)

And I wonder when we’ll embrace openness and acknowledge that our message is true, and can be open, expressed in ways we don’t have to approve of and still be truth?

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

40 replies on “Firework by Katy Perry”

WOW Adam. Just watched this for the first time and it actually moved me to tears. Kids long to be released to live lives of passion and this video captures this desire. I am worried that in our attempt to protect kids from themselves we are actually extinguishing that very passion. I hope people will be able to look past the things this video that they don’t like and see the real message beneath it.

Also, thanks for coming out of the closet about being a Katy Perry fan. It’s through your courage that I too have been able to do the same. My wife thinks it’s a little weird though. HA!

I was also really moved by this video. Just the idea that young people should step out of their insecurities and embrace who God made them. I agree, I wasn’t thrilled with at least one of the examples, but the idea was right one. I LOVED the fireworks effects as well. It really added to the intensity of the theme.

I like what she’s trying to do (see Xtina’s “Beautiful”), but I strongly feel that this song sucks. And I have been known to belt out some “California Girls” and “Teenage Dream” shamelessly. Lyrically, musically, it’s just not…good.

I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of Katie Perry’s music. I really do like this song and video though. (except the bit were there are sparks shooting from here breasts, as if they need any more attention). Great message like you say, but to go as far as calling her a prophetess? Seriously? One positive song does idolise them forever. I think your obsession has gone to your head 😉

Yo bro! Hope you don’t mind I had to piggy back on this post and let my peeps know how SPOT ON you are in your analysis of this video and the message underneath it.

To be straight up, i didn’t have the guts to post about it (i’d been sitting on a post draft I wrote for 3 days ago) because I wasn’t sure how “church folk” would respond in that it was “Katy Perry”…but man I’m glad you posted about it…AND did it in a way that was tasteful, truthful, and honest.

LOVE IT! (just had to say that again) My post telling the world how much of a genius you are will go out Monday morning.

DC- that’s fantastic. Feel free to blame me… I don’t work at a church anymore. And I have mad love for GCC.

Oh, if you know a trainer who needs a gig… I think there is a job available at a school in South Bend.

The type that specializes in skill players not tweaking hamstrings or blowing out knees. (I’m kidding, joking about the ND trainer. I’d hate to be on that staff right now!)

That is a great video and it reminds me of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” song. I love the message of both of those songs and think that we need to help people find that beauty/spark that is inside of them and encourage them to release it.

Was the video edgy? Heck, yeah. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Katy. However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t use it’s message.

Thanks, Adam.

I have so many mixed feelings about this video.

On the one hand, I see exactly what you do: her message is basically our message. Students can change the world, and they can do it right now.

On the other, this video is laced with poison. Ultimately, what makes students capable of changing the world is NOT themselves. They are empowered by The Holy Spirit and carry with them the message of the gospel. This video is about self-sufficiency which is sin that leads to death.

I love art as a means to communicate truth, (heck, I’ve built my whole career around it, and I blog about it twice a week) but lies can also be communicated through art.

The message in this video is a lie that will lead anyone who believes it straight to hell. That’s not a message that I can get behind. I see what you’re saying about the video being compelling, but there is a world of difference between compelling and accurate.

Ray- You are certainly welcome to your opinion. I think you’re wrong. But that’s OK.

I think you really need to rethink how you engage culture. Being abrasive to culture makes it awful difficult to reach people. We have to be like Paul in Athens.

If we want to be like Paul in Athens…we have to talk about Jesus. I have no problem with the realization that the youth in the world are striving to be heard, seen, believed, and found as valuable. The issues brought up in the video are all valid, but the resolution is all wrong.
However, I’m not expecting Katy Perry to give out the gospel in her video. That doesn’t give us an excuse to leave her video as the answer. None of the comments have recommended being “abrasive to culture.” We need to be students of culture and involved in it…with the end goal of giving out the only true answer to the problems of students, Jesus Christ.

Connect the dots for me. In 10 years of blogging, no one from WOL has commented. Today, 5 people from WOL have commented. Where are you seeing this link?

I’m cool with the discussion, just trying to understand why you are all so suddenly interested?

Sure, Adam. I started reading your blog probably… six months ago. I discovered it via google, and have been a “lurking” reader ever since. This particular post, I found this morning and it really rang my bell. Art that communicates truth is what I do, so I felt compelled to comment. I also tweeted the link and I think that’s where the other guys saw it

I’m not sure why no one from Word of Life has commented on your blog in the past. I’ve been reading it for years, but don’t comment on blogs often.
I believe a reason why this post is important to us, it that the video has so much to do with who we are and what we do.
To the girl that feels she doesn’t fit in because of her weight: we strive to tell her that her worth needs to come from the fact that she is loved by God, so much that Jesus died for her.
To the child suffering through cancer: we share that though they are living in pain, there can be a wonderful eternity with no pain living with Jesus.
To the siblings having to hear their parents fight with each other: we can share that their parents will fail them, but there is a perfect father, God.
This is who we are, and what we do.

Let’s not forget that Paul used something secular in Athens to present Christ. The secular things didn’t point to Christ, but he used them to point to Christ. Same thing when he quoted a secular poet in his letter to Titus. Even though KP’s video isn’t pointing to the gospel, we can use it/leverage it to do just that.

I agree 100% with Ray-We MUST communicate to young people that they have value. They are so valuable to God that He sacrificed His Son to rescue them…but I didn’t hear even a hint of that in this video. We have to communicate to them the value of being passionate…but our source of passion should be the truth of the gospel, and I didn’t hear a hint of anything like that in this video. The only thing I heard is that we have to be passionate and energetic… the truth is that apart from Christ we have NOTHING to be passionate or energetic about.

Now… I would never expect Katy Perry to put the gospel in one of her music videos… rather, as a youth leader I will capitalize on this to demonstrate to students how the message of the gospel is revolutionary.

I am starting to enjoy this discussion, there are some very good points some of which I agree with.

Communicating hope and value is always a great thing. However in this video there is hope for what exactly? That life is going to get better? Why? Why would it get better?

Because this encouragement is not clearly pointing those to Jesus, does that make it false? Building people on sand, and encouraging them to love themselves and their own achievements. Making them think they alone can take on the world?

I can see how even more hurt can come from this and baggage that can make it difficult to connect with God.

So where do we stand in all this? Do we condemn it and try and take on the mainstream? Or do we sit by and then wait to pick up the pieces later?

There has to be a third option?

First, thanks for this post.

I think Ray hit on something that we all know but that I sometimes forget to apply: Satan always mixes his lies with a helping of truth. Reminds me of the Mary Poppins song about the spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down… except it’s not medicine…

The idea of breaking free of people’s limiting expectations is one that every youth ministry can teach with confidence (and with their feet firmly planted on God’s Word). But there are so many small, dangerous things that get snuck in with the truth that it’s kind of like the mouse poison that is 99% food and 1% poison.

One big takeaway: if we were effectively communicating God’s Word in a compelling way (connecting it to where this generation is and using effective tools), there would be little room for videos like this. Everyone would realize that they were stealing our stuff.

Sure, Adam. I started reading your blog probably… six months ago. I discovered it via google, and have been a “lurking” reader ever since. This particular post, I found this morning and it really rang my bell. Art that communicates truth is what I do, so I felt compelled to comment. I also tweeted the link and I think that’s where the other guys saw it.

That makes perfect sense. You’re absolutely welcome here. Just trying to make the connection. (My former pastor, Ray Pritchard, preaches up at Schroon quite a bit. I hear good things.)

oh yeah! Cool. I know Pastor Ray. Were you with him in Chicago? You’re at YS now, right?

I love what you’re doing here, by the way. We have to talk about these things. It’s nice to meet other ministry leaders who aren’t afraid of the culture in which we live.

There’s a hollowness to this video because it’s lacking an accurate source of all that power.

Absolutely like Paul in Athens we should springboard off of the truth they know and help them connect the dots. Paul introduced the greeks to the “unknown God”, and we need to show students the source of their identity.

On a less serious note, I love the scene with the guy getting mugged… I think it’s fantastic.

Also, I like the song musically. It’s catchy, I’ve listened to it a few times just because I can’t get it out of my head.

I didn’t get from Adam’s post that we should just let Katy do the speaking and suddenly people will flock to Jesus. I think Adam’s point is that we can use her message as a springboard into those spiritual conversations and share with them how Christ is the only true source of finding that fulfillment.

I don’t understand why people think that Adam is doing anything less than that. Perhaps it is because I know him as more than just a guy with a blog, but I can assure people that his life points to Jesus in all that he does and says.

That may be true. I don’t have anything to go on other than what I read here, cause I don’t know Adam.

I’m absolutely in favor of springboarding off artistic expressions of world-view (like this one) into communication. As I’ve said, my career is built around doing just that.

I’m more concerned by what I don’t read here than by what I do. Freedom from peer pressure and cultural expectations comes because of what Christ has done. Any other freedom is dangerously counterfeit. Using a piece like this is a great starting point, but tread carefully there after. We cannot assume the gospel.

I heard JD Greear say once, “one generation embraces the gospel, the next assumes it and the next abandons it.” Where in that progression do you think we stand? What about our students?

I fear only that we would point students to the truth in this video without first erecting a huge neon sign to also point out the falsehood. Because as it has been said already, believing this message wholesale will send students to hell.

I think one of the problems we have in the Church today (at least here in America) is that we do not give the benefit of the doubt to people and instead assume the worse. That is a serious problem and hampers productive dialogue.

You ask where I think we are on the spectrum that JD Greear says and I would say that I think we are on our way back to embracing the gospel. I personally believe that there are a lot of current church leaders that abandoned the gospel and embraced AmeriChristianity (I just made that up and everyone must give me props now!), which is a weakened form of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that sounds like a harsh judgment on many church leaders, but it is my opinion on what I see and hear.

Wow! Thanks for asking me to look at it from the kid’s perspective. I think it’s so vital to encourage kids to live their passion. I think that’s what God’s love does for us. It liberates us to live life fully and be a firework. To be authentically who we were created to be and break free from the hurts, insults and messages of culture that are holding them down. I think it’s interesting too how you say we could be stifling the kids because we tell them that they’re not sending the message the we want to see it. That’s really something to think about. Definitely, the number of pageviews shows she’s on to something.

“Let your fireworks shine before men so they will see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.”

Something like that?

I agree with The Snuffy that Adam isn’t saying that Katy Perry is saddled with the job of bringing Jesus’ message or that you should just show the video to your student ministry then have an alter call. But you can use it as a launch pad to talk about the motivations of the kids in the video. What they face. How they can deal. And the difference Christ would make in their life. And what He is calling them to…

And on a side note, everyone knew that Katy Perry’s parents are pastors right? And that when she was fifteen she released a Christian album under the name Katy Hudson, right? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katy_Hudson_(album)

Katy Perry is not of Christ… You can say what you want about this video and its message or whatever, but with songs like “I kissed a girl” and with so much outright satanic symbolism within her videos, obviously she is doing the work of the devil…

The following verse sums it up quite well;

2 Corinthians 11:14
“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”

I agree that it’s right for us Christians to approach the world not with judgement, but with the love of Christ… However, we do not compromise on the word…

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