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.

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What We Did This Week

Acts Social MediaWe had some pretty good nights in our student ministries this week. For our high school night we changed things up and met in a different room and had an acoustic set for worship instead of the full band. We knew attendance would be down this week due to a band banquet at the local high school so we wanted to meet in a room that was a little smaller so our normal (much bigger) room didn’t feel so empty with a smaller crowd. Below are the details of what we did this week in our student ministries.

What We Did at Porch (High School)
Upfront Game: Mexican Food Trivia. This is a fun little game from Download Youth Ministry. We decided to play this game since this past Tuesday was cinco de mayo.
Acoustic Worship Set List: Made Alive (Citizens & Saints), Hail the King (Citizens & Saints), Brokenness Aside (All Sons and Daughters), and Jesus Paid it All (Kristian Stanfill).
Video: The Skinny of Evangelism (Skit Guys)
Teaching: We finished our Acts series by talking about Paul in Athens from Acts 17:16-34. The main idea we talked about was evangelism and what we can learn about it from Paul’s example in Athens. Click here to listen to the message.
Highlight: The acoustic worship was awesome! I love stripping away most of the instruments, lights, and big stage and having a simple worship set where I can hear the voices of our students singing to Jesus.

What We Did at Edge (Middle School)
Opening Video: Top Soccer Shootout with Scott Sterling
Upfront Game: Stocking Face Tug of War. This was a fun game I ran across online. Basically you buy a few pairs of panty hoses (stocking kind) and tie two pairs together. You bring two students up and have them place the end of the panty hoses on their heads and over their faces. One of the best parts of the game is seeing their faces mashed up inside the panty hose. Then you have them play tug of war with their heads. First person to pull the panty hose off their opponent head wins. I’ve seen some groups do four way tug of war with this game. Click the link above for more details and instructions for this game.
Group Game: King of the Circle. We play this game a few times a year and it’s always a pretty big hit. You tape a circle down on the ground (we just do a square) and you tell all the students to stand inside the circle. Students must place their hands behind their backs and attempt to push others out of the circle. When you get pushed out of the circle you are out. We did separate rounds for guys and girls because the guys get extremely rough in this game (actually some of the girls got pretty rough as well). Click the link above to download the graphic we used for this game.
Teaching: Same as what we did at at Porch with our high school students but a little shorter. Click here to listen to the message from this night.
Highlight: The opening video was a huge hit! We usually do an opening video each night and most of the time they are super funny to our students. However, they loved this one and were going crazy. Some of them were even posting about it on Instagram later that night. We also had a student pray before my talk and when he did he prayed for Scott Sterling from the video…got to love middle school ministry.

What We Did This Week

Whats Your Story Social MediaThis week we had great nights in both our middle school and high school ministry. There was good energy both nights and saw a ton of new students come through the doors both nights as well. Below is the details of what we did this week.

What We Did at Porch (High School)
Worship Set List:
The Ascension (Phil Wickham), How He Loves (David Crowder Band), This Grace (Kristian Stanfill), Give Me Faith (Elevation Worship), and Made Alive (Citizens & Saints).
Video: Collide Retreat Promo
Teaching:
Instead of teaching this week we had some students share their personal faith stories. Last week we had our student leaders do this but this week we opened it up to any students who wanted to share. This is part of a series we have been doing for the past three weeks called “What’s Your Story?”
Highlight: Hearing a solid group of freshmen guys share their faith stories. We have a greta group of freshmen students and these guys are leading the way. Proud of them for standing up before their peers and sharing their faith stories.

What We Did at Edge (Middle School)
Upfront Game: Pizza Eating Contest (with a twist). I called three students up on stage and gave them each two slices of pizza. I had the crowd count down to from three and before they hit one I stopped them. I told the contestants we have some special toppings for their pizza. I then had some student leaders cover the pizza slices in things like ketchup, mayo, mustard, grape jam, lemon juice, and more. Then we had the contestants race to see who can eat their pizza the fastest.
Group Game: Scatterball. This is a classic version of dodgeball we do at least once a month. Our students love it. Click the link to read the rules and also download the graphic we used during this game.
Videos: Edge Games XI Week 3 Highlights and Collide Retreat Promo
Teaching: Last week we finished a three week event called Edge Games. This is a huge outreach event we do each year. Throughout the event we do short video talks that lead up to the final night where we present the Gospel. This week we received what we talked about in those videos and followed up with students who indicated they responded to Christ that final night. We gave each of those students The Simple Truth Bible to help them start spending time in God’s Word consistently.
Highlight: Hard to pick just one highlight. There were so many awesome things about the night. We had a new record attendance of over 140 students there (some didn’t check in so we counted between 145-150). We followed up with over 21 students who indicated they received Christ the final night of Edge Games. The energy was high all night and students were having a blast. Overall it was a fantastic night!