Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The World Goes Boom: Impact of Music on Students

I grew up in the era of cassettes and the introduction of CD's but my church and private Christian school still loved records.  They loved it not just because they were the last generation's technology, but because you could play them backwards.  Yes, I think we might have been some of the last hold outs in the old hidden subliminal messages debate. 

     My students when I tell them about my experiences, they just laugh...and laugh.  They think I grew up on another planet, especially because they know that  I am not at all like that.  They know that my wife and I are knowledgeable about current music. They also know that we do listen to "secular" music as well as "Christian" music. We have choice also to listening in to the music, and also listening into our student's lives. The facts are the same as they have always been.  Music can have an impact on students.  I use the word "can" not "does" because it does have in impact, but it doesn't have to be the only and most important impact. 
    I started off telling you about my crazy past, to explain my present.  I am not an extremist about culture and music. I have seen that and it is laughable.  I think even Jesus used and addressed his culture. If you read the Bible, even in the past culture had crazy people, wear crazy outfits (*cough..gaga), and singing crazy songs.  It had an impact on the cultures and also on the people of God, one way or the other. We have to have a reasonable, sensible understanding of music.  We have to teach and lead in such a way that we don't end up being left out with our students.

    I think we as MS/JH pastor/leader/parents need to do a few things to help our students discern and prepare for the impact.  We can choose to lead in a way that we make the impact a Boom or a Blip on their lives.

Here's how:
1. Talk about it.  In teaching it is called "null curriculum" it is what you teach about something by not teaching about something.  Sometimes what you ignore teaches as much, if not more, about something, because the students can just read between the lines of what you are not saying.  Take time to research and teach a lesson or a series on music with good scriptural foundation for what you are say.  Be clear, be honest, and be relevant.

2. Discuss it. Allow students to talk to each other and to you about what they think about an artist, a song, or even about music in general.  You can do what I experienced above you teach at the students without discussion or interaction.  I like to called it the "baby bird" style.  Open wide I will dump in what I think and you just swallow hard. What students need is to be able to think and process, in order to succeed with out us.  If you have small groups use them, if not have an open forum discussion.  Whatever you do stop your talking and get them talking.

3. Don't fear it.  We like to use the fear tactics, showing the most extreme example of something to prove our point.  It is classic church Christianity.  Here is a house plant that only listened to Chris Tomlin for a week and here is another house plant that only listened to Lil Wayne for a week.  See how the second house plant is all withered?  It does not work and makes us look like fools.  Worse we lose our "right to be heard' with our students. God's word has outlasted popular culture and it music and it will continue to.   Just be real with your students, talk about the lyrics and about the lifestyle in a normal way.  Don't use the fear factor, it is a TV show, not a style of ministry.

    The world is the same as it always has been.  The world is "falling apart" because of sin, as it has since the day Adam and Eve sinned, but since that day we as God's people have been also been at work with Him to restore and renew it as well.  When it come to music we have to choose to "receive, reject or redeem" (Mark Driscoll- Elephant Room).

      2011 just like every year has been filled with pop cultural landmines. Music continues to influence everything from technology to language to clothes.  Our students inevitably have stepped on a few will continue to.  We have a responsibility to point out what we can and give them a map to find the rest.