No Pressure is a lunchtime group we run attended by young people who are not Christians. The brainchild of Tom, our schools worker, No Pressure gets young people discussing the spiritual and practical response to the big pressure issues like alcohol abuse, drugs, self esteem, media pressure, eating disorders, self harm, and the like, with some reference to the way Christians face and deal with these issues. Quite often we have visiting guests who talk honestly about how they have dealt with these issues and the role their faith played.
Anyway, recently we used the Lifehouse Everything Skit on YouTube (and GodTube) which has been doing
the rounds for a while now. We were interested to see what the young people would make of it. For many Christians is presents a powerful dramatic portrayal of the triumph of Christ over a range of influences that can ensnare us. But we know the story that underpins the presentation.
We were curious to see if the young people would be able to understand this Christian message without being told in advance what the drama was portraying.
They didn’t get it! Some of them did seem to get a vague kind of positive message about breaking free from self harm and stuff, but they missed the significance of the Christ character and many didn’t really understand the thing on any level.
We were not totally surprised, and in a way this confirmed what I have said before – that people bring their own meaning to films, video, music, art and that the (Christian) message we so often wish we could embed in these things barely communicates at all. That’s why ‘secular’ songs can inspire us to worship (we bring our understanding of worship to the song) and Christian ‘evangelistic’ songs can have no impact at all (evangelistically speaking) on young people (even if they like the song).
We’re left with a few thoughts.
- We may have done the young people a favour by allowing them to interact with the material (in this case, a video) and draw their own conclusions. This is, in some sense, empowering and respects their capacity for self-learning.
- The video may have the power of a parable in that although they didn’t ‘get it’ on the day, the visual power of the drama may stay with them so that at some point in the future other events, or the working of God’s Spirit, may create a moment of revelation for them about it’s real meaning.
- We may have denied them an opportunity to understand the transforming and liberating power of Christ by not giving them a basic framework of understanding about what the video was saying before showing it to them.
At heart is how we tell the gospel story. We want to avoid anything that smacks of indoctrination, but we also want to give people clear information about the gospel so that they can make an informed choice for Christ.
We are continuing to work with this group and there will be many more opportunities to share aspects of the gospel and of our lives. That lunchtime, and that video clip, were just one part of our ongoing relationship and discussions.
What do you think? Did we leave them space to reach their own conclusions, or have we robbed them of an opportunity to consider Christ?