Pop Culture Christianity

Am I the only one disturbed by the latest trend that Christians are chasing pop culture & news so they can share their unsolicited opinion?

Part of my appeal in becoming part of the church was that it was an other-worldly, safe place where it didn’t matter that I wasn’t up on the latest fashion or books or news stories or TV show.

Today… Many of my evangelical friends seem to have an opinion on every pop culture item of the day. In turn, they pretend to care what my opinion is so that they can tell me their opinion which I don’t really care about.

Are we really this shallow?

The latest Kanye West song? Here’s my commentary for how to talk about it in youth groups. The Royal Wedding? We all know someone is going to turn that ceremony into a Bible study on marriage and sell it for $9.99, right? The military finally found their #1 adversary, Osama Bin Laden. Within 24 hours hundreds of Christians had written blog posts telling me how to feel about it, process it through a Christian lens, and talk to my youth group about it.

Stop the INSANITY!

I’ve never read anything from Paul that instructs pastors to have an opinion about every news item. Is this buried in your job description under “Other duties as assigned?

From a youth ministry perspective I don’t think it’s useful to introduce topics to adolescents, things that genuinely don’t matter to them, for the sake of trying to get them into a discussion, that you can then turn around and blog about, tweet about, or post on Facebook from a perspective of “My students really wanted to know what the Bible had to say about William not kissing Kate at the altar on their wedding day.

It feels like there are so many more important things to talk about.

When I hear of people who talk to their youth groups about all of these topics I think, “Don’t you have a teaching plan? Why do you deviate from it so much? Are you accountable to anyone for what you teach?

The best opinion you can have most of the time is no opinion

It’s perfectly OK to not have an opinion. No one is going to look down on you for saying, “I don’t really pay attention enough to really have an opinion. I’m really focused on loving my neighbors and serving the needs of the students in my youth group.

Instead, reject this temptation to have an opinion on every pop culture item that comes across the ticker and focus fully on the ministry Jesus has called you to.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

22 comments

  1. Hey I have an idea! How about we teach some Bible and what the Bible says about God! Maybe if we teach our kids to chase being like God we wouldn’t worry about how they handle culture!

  2. I follow relevantmagazine.com and find some of the “articles” that are posted there to be…I don’t know…just reaching to be trendy and pot stirring. While there are some great perspective articles, there are also some that just seem to have no purpose except to be a venue for opinions to fly …and none of it has anything to do (REALLY) with God. Sure we throw in the word “God” or “Jesus” but really…it is all about seeing how well we can argue our side of the story.
    There really is no need to “glam up” God, just know Him, that is fabulous enough…and if we really knew Him as a religious society…maybe we wouldn’t be searching so hard to jam Him into every pseudo controversial situation in our culture.

  3. You got it before I did Adam. It has really been frustrating me reading/hearing everyone’s opinion on EVERYTHING. I have been really struggling as my heart and soul feels that it has something to share with the church and my community but because so many people are out here/there running their opinions mine gets lost, or completely swept away as just another voice. I don’t really feel I have anything to add to the conversations of anyone because everyone is talking and no one seems to be listening… so I’ll be quite again now and bounce now!

    Great thoughts

  4. Luke, I thought the same thing. I think it’s all about whose opinion we want to hear. That’s why it’s good to have different news networks, denominations and bloggers. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

  5. I’d give you my opinion on this, but that’s just a little too ironic, isn’t it? 😉

    Seriously though, many people are using social media to mentally and emotionally process culture, especially people who primarily communicate through writing (note, I didn’t say “writers”). Private journals are now public; they used to be intended for certain eyes only – now they are exposed to the whole world. While there is some profit to learning from others who are processing the same ideas, often the waters get muddied and stir up confusion and division.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions. I’d like to say it’s better if they weren’t all expressed, but it’s more realistic to say, we simply don’t need to read them all.

  6. @Len of course, but all opinions have a root and by finding out the root of the opinion, we discover if it is good or not. As Adam stated in his last video post, most of his blogs are words to himself ie what God is speaking to him about right now. Does that mean in a way Adam’s opinion is God guided, therefore making it a good root? There are those who will disagree with his ideas, does that mean they are against God? Or is Adam mishearing God? I guess I’m just expanding on your point Len. We need to take each word we get and ask God what is right. (I’ll avoid the whole listening for God, knowing God’s voice thing). Love your response though Len =)

    PS Dave is my First name 😉

    @Adam sorry for using you as an example. Wanna keep things going just =P

  7. @Dave Good thoughts and I think it takes maturity to really listen to various opinions on politics, news, theology and almost anything else. I think the wise person listens more than they speak (still working on that) and the immature just wants their opinion (though they might call it “proper view”) heard and adopted.

    What I heard in Adam’s post was frustration with the immaturity.

  8. @len- Yes.. I think people should talk less and do more. I wrote about this on Monday: http://adammclane.com/2011/05/02/vanity-in-ministry-life/

    Is it a matter of maturity? Perhaps. I actually believe that some people have made Jesus their hobby and not their Lord… we just label them as mature because they have big followings.

    @jason- I love your comment. That’s just it. Teach God’s Word faithfully and those who take God’s Word seriously will be prepared to better deal with whatever culture tosses at them.

  9. Never trust a guy with two first names.

    Good post Adam. I think sometimes we use pop culture to present common ground to start a conversation, or to be authentic in our relationships. If I really like the new Xbox360 (Portal 2) game why shouldn’t I talk about it with students who can’t stop talking about it? Or use minute to win it games because they are current? On the other hand I don’t think it’s right to twist scripture to fit pop culture as if paul or christ had an opinion on a topic. I like that your post makes me question why I may choose to use a cultural reference or example. Thank You.

  10. Interesting perspective Adam. What if some youth workers aren’t seeking to “share their unsolicited opinion” but seeking to help students and others look at the world through the lens of truth?

    Perhaps we should introduce topics student don’t care about to help them understand they should care? For example, students should care about the thousands in Japan suffering because of an earthquake.

    Part of shepherding is equipping the students we serve to embrace the truth they see in culture and not be deceived by the lies. They do spend most of their time out in culture somewhere.

    Would that be ok and wouldn’t you say that should be a part of their teaching plane?

    ?

    Thanks for the thoughts

  11. @david- I think that’s the tension I am wrestling with and have been trying to work out. Maybe it’s the making a show of it that is so weird? As someone else expressed, since every little opinion is posted on Twitter/Facebook… maybe it’s just the only thing on their minds worth sharing? (Because what’s happening is uninteresting?)

    This post is really tied to the post called “Vanity in Ministry.” http://adammclane.com/2011/05/02/vanity-in-ministry-life/

  12. Adam, I agree. My flesh so wants to be famous and chime in on things so people know ME. Perhaps there’s others like me.

    Maybe that’s the deeper issue.

    The reality is without our encouragement most students have no idea how to view the world through a Biblical lens. We have to teach them.

  13. Adam,

    It seems like I only bring pushback when I visit! Sorry man!

    Here’s my perspective: I believe that there are a lot of non-believers (or whatever we’re supposed to call them this week) that see, read and hear about Christians “celebrating” the death of ObL. Understandably, they want to use this as a “you Christians are sooooo inconsistent…burn!” moment for us.
    Beyond that, I talked about it with our family on Monday morning, and have even had church members talk about conversations they’ve had with the lost (or whatever) asking them about it.

    I think that this is less a matter of pop culture madness (although there are examples) but I think that this is an attempt to equip. We talked about it last night in ms group, specifically the importance of eyewitness accounts as they relate to the truthiness of the Bible, and on Sunday I’ll be taking our kids through some scripture on “how we feel” about it (want to see my lesson- I can provide a link!!

    There you go…I am the problem!

  14. Hey Adam.

    I LOVED this. Sent it out to my 80+ volunteers for them to read.

    my perspective is that while it is totally helpful to use current events to illuminate biblical truth…. talking about them for their own sake seems a little unnecessary and counter-productive.

  15. Thanks Luke. I saw the post on your blog about it. Very cool. I feel like this is something we need to wrestle with as leaders. Like… why do we do this?

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