Monday, January 24, 2011

The Power of Music on Teens

I recently had a conversation with a new youth worker from Montreal that was telling me about the youth center that they were running for community kids.  He had an armful of CDs and a confused look on his face.  As a new Christian he had never heard of the bands like Skillet, Newsboys or Toby Mac.  He asked me what music would appeal to the kids that liked music like Green Day.  His boss wanted him to find music to play at the youth center.

I thought over his request for a minute before answering.  I had a flashback to my upbringing and my Mom’s warnings about filling your mind with whatever was good, beautiful and pure.  This is good advice that I still follow to this day.  I thought about a youth retreat I went to as a young youth pastor where the speaker would speak out lyrics to some rather offensive songs and the audience filled with thousands of church-going kids would cheer loudly as they began to fill the air with the songs that he was quoting.

Music is a powerful force in the world of teenagers.  I once saw a young teen who was in the midst of a drug induced hallucination and a spiritual attack of some sort who was calmed instantly through when a CD of worship music came on.  I also have seen God speak to young people through the music that I thought wouldn’t have met the Criteria my mom set in place for me.  One young person I know was compelled to stop walking on the fence of commitment and get baptized while listening to Good Charlotte.  I personally have come to respect some of these bands who tell it like it is in relation to the experience of the average teen.  Sometimes the drug references and swear words turn us off from the emotion contained behind the lyrics.  It is in those dark places that a lot of young people find themselves and this music has a way of getting through the masks and the walls that they put up around themselves.  It is no wonder that God speaks to them through this music, even though it can make some of us raised in a more conservative background quite uncomfortable at times.

To this young guy looking to me for advice I said that rather than limiting the choice to Christian music that he should get each kid to print out the lyrics of the song that is the most meaningful to them at the moment and that they should even listen to each song as a group and then have a discussion around the music that they are already listening to.  If wanted to bring in some of his Christian music and do the same thing that I thought this group would have a lot more respect for it than simply banning their music completely.  Some music is inappropriate to play, but having a discussion as to why is a lot better than a simple prohibition.

What are your thoughts? How should we filter what music is played at youth events?
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