Name That Tune...

How does being culturally relevant translate to Christianity? I'm struggling with this a lot at work right now. I love listening to pop music. I know all the lyrics, artists, and videos. The people I work with are mostly teens aged 16-19, and are obviously very enculturated. I find that talking to them at their level can be difficult, but it's easy if you find the topic they all know well-music. Be it pop, rock, or any 80's song, they're hooked-literally. So many people are plugged into their iPods or MP3 players, but the majority are high school kids. When I'm at work, searching for some way to get these oft angry and belligerent teens to talk to me, I bring up music:

"So, what do you think of Ke$ha's new music video?"
"Hey, have you heard that new song by Lady Gaga?"
"Wow, doesn't that "Papa Americano" song have such a catchy beat?" (seriously, though, watch this one... it's cute :)

Sometimes their faces light right up, or else they'll tell me they think animated unicorns are strange.*

Regardless of how easy this is, I come back to the main question.

Is it ok to be culturally relevant despite all the crap that's out there?

Sometimes I wonder how else I can build rapport with them. In an age where open theism is so rampant, it can't be that hard to bring up religion and Christianity, to start a convo on Jesus. In fact, I have had the chance to ask one girl, Sally**, about what her thoughts are on the spiritual realm (God, angels, etc.). Now that we've talked about that once, how do I bring it up again? How can I relate the truth of the Gospel to someone who watches "Paranormal Activity" for fun?

I'm just thankful that, when an opportunity arises (i.e. when we're not busting our butts to get through 30 cars in the drive-thru) that the Holy Spirit within me will carefully articulate my words so that they understand in a way that is culturally relevant. I mean, wasn't Jesus? He used parables and stories that fit His time period, and taught lessons in ways the masses would be able to relate to (but perhaps they were not meant to understand-Luke 8:9,10- only God can open the ears and hearts of people to understand the deep "mysteries of the kingdom").

The danger is this: I don't want to be so "in the know" that they think I'm one of them. Which is why I am having this struggle. I alluded to it earlier, but can I talk about the music of today in a detached way? How does that even work? See, I want them to know that I care, but don't want them to think I'm part of their culture.

But how can I not become part of it if I expose myself to it to frequently? Listening to the radio doesn't affect me as much, but I have found in that past that watching certain music videos can lower my self-esteem, cause me to loathe my physical body, and incite me to have some form of spiritual disconnect with God. It's a slippery slope to go looking for the hits.***

In conclusion, I do believe it helps to be culturally relevant and to find the common denominator, but what price are we willing to pay? And if we don't ever talk about Jesus with them, then was it worth it at all?


[Author's Note: This blog is an excerpt from my journal today, and for a little more insight into my thoughts, here is the prayer I wrote afterwards: Dear Lord, please guide me. I'm so lost in this desire for acceptance that wars with my need to share the Good News. Please give me a passion to share; stir up the Spirit within me. Help me to know where to connect the dots, and when to speak (especially what to say). I have so much fear of rejection, Father! Help me to look to you for wisdom and strength.]

*Ke$ha's new music video has unicorns in it. That are animated and wearing suits. It's just plain weird.
**Name changed for security reasons
***Please don't read into this. I am not for a moment suggesting that all the hits are bad, nor am I condoning them either. In my own Christian walk I have had to work through what is neutral and what is clearly and blatantly evil. Perhaps you are still working through that yourself. My intention is not to offend anyone, but rather to get us thinking critically as Christians should.

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