Youth and culture: Ministry and media

Youth and culture: Ministry and media

Belknap, Bryan

papa roach


song: “Black Clouds” (from Lovehatetragedy)

theme: Depression

synopsis: Depression threatens to destroy the singer

background: The cover photo says it all-only an ignorant child will find Papa Roach’s Lovehatetragedy enjoyable. The band ditches their feeble hip– hop elements for straightforward hard rock and achieves glorious mediocrity. “She Loves Me Not” resembles a preschool-rhyme-scheme seminar, and lead singer Jacoby Shaddix evokes the spirit of David Lee Roth on “M-80.” (Roth’s still alive? really?) What might provide sweet catharsis to hurting teenagers (hey, we’re messed up too!) proves utterly bleak. Papa Roach barely hints at hope before immediately wallowing in painful despair once again. In fact, Shaddix finds the “truth inside himself.” No wonder they’re depressed. Papa Roach’s popularity points to the widespread need for the hope and healing of Jesus. Papa Roach offers much to hate and little to love on Lovehatetragedy, so squash it quickly before it breeds.

discussion questions: Ask: What are some reasons young people get depressed? When was the last time you felt depressed, and why? How did you deal with your depression? Read aloud 2 Corinthians 1:6-11. Ask: Why does God allow hardships that can lead to depression? How can God help you deal with depression? How can we help others overcome depression?



song: “Down” (from Kutless)

theme: Eating disorders synopsis: A girl can’t escape the grip of an eating disorder.

background: Kutless hails from the meathead-metal zone of bands such as Puddle of Mudd and Nickelback, churning out fist-pumping rock anthems. While their rock sometimes borders on self-righteousness, people always respond to sincere emotion, and Kutless honestly shares their desire to love God completely and to help others experience his saving love and grace. It’s surprising for a band with such a timely sound to emphasize their faith so prominently. “Pride Away” would work well as a modern praise chorus (minus the rap section), and “Grace and Love” is likely to become the next “power ballad” for Christian teenagers. Kutless may not blaze new musical trails, but they’ll undoubtedly become an enduring presence in Christian rock, alongside stalwarts like Audio Adrenaline, O.C. Supertones, and the Newsboys.

discussion questions: Ask: What do you know about eating disorders? Why do you think someone might develop an eating disorder? Read aloud 1 Corinthians 9:23-27. Why is it so difficult to gain control over our bodies? How does an eating disorder damage someone’s life physically? spiritually? How can our relationship with God help us overcome any problems we might have in the way we approach food? What could you do to minister to someone with an eating disorder?

the twilight zone


Join host Forest Whitaker on another journey between sight and sound and mind, where ordinary people encounter the supernaturally bizarre within The Twilight Zone every Wednesday night on UPN. The name “Twilight Zone” is synonymous with the unexplained, so have fun using it to introduce the subject of miracles. Ask teenagers to share miracle stories with each other while playing the famous theme song, or tell Bible stories of miracles using your best Rod Serling imitation. Above all, stress that God is definitely alive and well, performing miracles whether we recognize them or not. As science discovers more answers, it actually uncovers new areas that defy explanation, leaving plenty of room for God. Help your young people find God in life’s “twilight zone” areas, giving them a renewed sense of wonder in his past, present, and future miracles.

Say: Describe the last time you witnessed something bizarre, something you couldn’t explain? Ask: Do you think God was involved in that incident? Why or why not? Read aloud John 9:1-41. Ask: Why didn’t the religious people believe the obvious miracle? Do you believe God still works miracles? Why or why not? Why do people naturally try to explain away miracles? Why do you overlook the miracles that happen around you every day?

mission: impossible (pg-13)


theme: The impossible

scripture: Luke 18:27

clip location: 53:45 through 55:45* synopsis: Ethan outlines the elaborate security that protects the computer terminal he needs to access. It’s impossible to break in, but Ethan confidently declares they will.

gospel filter: Situations often look impossible from a human perspective. Everything suddenly becomes possible with God calling the shots. Challenge your kids to let God fill in the gaps of their impossible tasks.

discussion questions: Ask: What historical things have

people considered “impossible”? Read aloud Luke 18:27. Ask: What would make a Christian view a situation as impossible? Why do you think God gives his people impossible tasks? How might a person still fail even though God’s able to accomplish anything? How have you believed God for the impossible? What happened? the others (pg-13) le theme: The spiritual realm scripture: Isaiah 14:9-15 clip location: 50:00 through 51:45* synopsis: Grace tells Ms. Mills that she felt a presence in the room even though no one was there. Ms. Mills says everyone knows stories about the “beyond” even though they’re hard to explain. She believes the world of the dead and the living get mixed up sometimes.

gospel filter: People tend to either ignore or romanticize the “other side,” so bring a dose of God’s reality to the discussion. Explore the spiritual

realm-who exactly inhabits this unseen world, and what (if any) interaction do the two worlds have.

discussion questions: Ask: Do you believe in the spirit world? Why or why not? Can a person believe in God but not in spirits? Why or why not? What evidence is there of an unseen spiritual realm? Read aloud Isaiah 14:9-15. Ask: Can the spiritual realm affect the physical world? If so, how? As Christians, how are we protected from the spirit world? How are we susceptible? Why doesn’t God spell out everything about the afterlife? How does the existence of the spiritual world impact your daily life?

orange county (pg-13)


theme: Lying

scripture: Colossians 3:9-11

clip location: 52:00 through 53:15*

synopsis: A fireman questions Lance about the fire. Lance tells several blatant lies trying to cover up his involvement in the accident.

gospel filter: While most lies aren’t so transparent, we probably look this foolish to God when trying to bend the truth. Since lying grows easier with use, challenge your young people to live in the light of God’s truth and remove all forms of lying from their lives.

discussion questions: Ask: What’s the last lie you heard someone tell? Is it always wrong to lie? Why or why not? If it’s okay to lie sometimes, how can you discern when? Read aloud Colossians 3:9-11. Ask: Why is God so concerned with honesty? Does this passage allow for “white lies?” Why or why not? What situations tempt you to lie? How would it change your life to always speak the truth?

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Bryan Belknap is media editor for group Magazine, Visit our online resource for hundreds of Bryan’s biblical discussion starters based on popular movies, music, and videos. Go to for a free tour of the site.

Copyright Group Publishing, Inc. Sep/Oct 2002

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