3 Cultural Trends From the 2015 VMAs

This past Sunday MTV held their 32nd VMAs (Video Music Awards). The VMAs is more than an awards show, it’s a cultural display of where we are as a society. If you want to see where are culture is, especially teens and young adults, than go no future than the VMAs. If you work with teens, young adults, or just want to know we are culture is and is going I’d encourage you to watch or follow the VMAs each year. It will teach you a lot. I didn’t watch the entire show this year but did go back and watch some of the highlights. On top of that I read a good amount of articles on the night. In the midst of Miley Cyrus antics, Taylor Swift winning a ton of awards, and Kayne West announcing that he will be running for president in 2020, there were three cultural trends that stood out to me.

Gender identity. Gender in our culture is now a decision left up to the individual. It no longer matters how you were born. If you want to be another gender you have the right to make that happen. Our culture has shifted to the acceptance and celebration of the transgender issue. This was clearly the case with this years VMAs. There were celebrations of transgenders as well as a stage full of drag queens joining Miley for her performance of “Dooo It.” Taylor Swift even threw a punch when she received the award for Best Video of the Year. She said, “I’m just happy that in 2015, we live in a world where boys can play princesses and girls can play soldiers.” Gender identity and manhood/womanhood is something our culture is changing and shifting on.

Faith disconnected from actions and lifestyle. Faith in our culture has become more of a slogan or addition life rather than a foundation of life. Faith no longer is connected to your actions or lifestyle. You can pick whatever faith you want but also live however you want. You can have both and they can be completely at odds. This was clearly seen during this years VMAs when Nicki Minaj received the award for Best Hip-Hop Video for her song “Anaconda” and said, “You know who I want to thank tonight? My pastor.” She then went you to say, “Thank you, Pastor Lydia. I love you so much.” Minaj is known for her sexual explicit content and this song, and it’s video, is no different. The song is all about sex and the video features barely clothed women twerking and dancing. After receiving the award and thanking her pastor, Minaj then goes on to blast Miley Cyrus when she turns the show back over to her. Minaj said, “And now, back to this b**** that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press. Miley what’s good?” Faith no longer dictates how one lives and behaves. In our culture we see many people play the “faith card” but rarely do we see them have a life of faith to back it up that is visible in their actions, attitudes, and character.

Drug use (especially marijuana). The use and normalization of marijuana doesn’t come to a surprise to me. It’s easily accessed and doesn’t have some of the same damaging effects other drugs have. However, there were some interesting references at the VMAs to marijuana this year. First, Kayne West admitted to smoking some before he came on stage to give his far too long 11 minute speech. He said, “The answer is YES. I rolled up a little something. I knocked the edge off.” Also, Miley Cyrus performed her song “Doo it,” which in it she boasts “Yeah, I smoke pot. Yeah, I love peace, but I don’t give a f***. I ain’t no hippie.” The point is marijuana use is on the rise, especially with teens, college students, young adults, and our cultural as a whole has become more accepting of it and will continue to be more and more.

These are just a few of the things that happened at the VMAs this year that show us where our culture is and is going. Much of these thoughts in this post come from Walt Mueller’s post on the VMAs. Read that post to get a better glimpse into what the VMAs showed about our culture.

Don’t Let Student Ministry Steal Your Identity

Being in full-time student ministry can be a dangerous thing. Sure, there are great benefits in seeing students come to know Jesus and equipping students to live a Gospel-centered life, but there are some risks involved in student ministry. Not just student ministry, but in any full-ministry position you may find yourself in.

One of the dangers I have had to continually guard against is allowing student ministry, instead of who I am in Christ, to become my identity. Let me explain, I am guilty of allowing what I do on a weekly basis with students and everything else in between to become my identity.

Recently, God has put me in a season where I believe He is trying to break me of this sin; yes allowing anything other than who you are in Christ to become your identity is sin. In the past few months I have transitioned from a student ministries position at one church to another student ministries position at a different church. At my former church, I was the guy. I was hired to be the student pastor of students from 7th-12th grades. I did everything from training leaders, ministering to parents, preparing events, planning weekly mid-week gatherings, and teaching God’s Word every week. I was doing what the typical student pastor does. The problem is it started to steal my identity. It stole most of my time, energy, and devotion. I’ll be transparent and say that Christ started to take a backseat to my ministry. Then God moved me from that position to a new church with a somewhat different position, at least for a season.

I am now serving at a new church and I love it! It’s a multi-site church meaning I am not the only student ministry guy. I am one student ministry guy at one campus, alongside a few other guys at other campuses. Now here is where God’s pruning season, at least the way I see it, starts. For this year my campus’s students combine with another campus for mid-week gatherings and most events. We do have our own small groups for our campus’s students though! What this means for me is that I am not doing what I was doing before. I am not planning mid-week gatherings and a ton of events. I am more so partnering with other student ministry guys at the campus we combine with and helping them wherever they need me. I have a lot less planning, teaching, and being the guy in charge. Am I complaining and whining? I hope not, because I believe God has placed me in this situation for a reason.

A year from now, Lord willing, our campus will be doing our own mid-week gatherings and doing more stuff. I will be back into the former role that I was used to and love. So what do I do until then? I believe I need to do what God put me in this season to do, to learn how to place Christ before student ministry and to let my identity rest in Him, not what I do week in and week out with students. God has placed me in this season to learn servant leadership as well as to better equip me for the future and for what He will do through our campus’s student ministry next year!

What about you? Is student ministry stealing your time, energy, and devotion? It’s a demanding ministry, but when it steals what you should be giving to Christ it becomes extremely dangerous. Allow God to teach you what He is teaching me. Your identity is in Christ, not ministry.

Accept How God Created You

I ran across this video today on Josh Griffins, High School pastor at Saddleback Church in CA, website (www.morethandodgeball.com). It is definitely worth your few minutes to watch and I have a few words to say about the video also. But first watch this awesome testimony!

The statements that really jumped out at me when I first watch this video was when this girl says, “God has given me so much happiness now when I look at my disability” and “I know God has a purpose for me.” That is awesome! Most of us, who are healthy, don’t have that kind of faith and trust in our Savior and God! there are many people out there who have real disabilities, some physical, some mental, and some that people struggle with personally and no one else knows. But like this girl, we have to come to the point where we realize God formed and shaped us even before we came into this earth! The Bible says while we were in our mothers womb, He was creating and forming us.

“You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 (NASB)

So we see that God made and formed us even before we entered into this world! With this truth in mind we must always remember that if a child or someone is born with a disability it was not an “accident” it was God who created tat child and person just like that and He has a reason for it. Like this girl in the video, we all must come to grips with how God made us-problem, disabilities, struggles and all! This issue goes far beyond disabilities. We must realize God has a purpose and an exact reason why He created each of us the way He did. We must accept that and not let our disability or problem become our identity!