December 22, 2013

Using “Pop-culture” References in Teaching

This week’s lesson asks students to reflect on the idea of Jesus as a leader, or hero, by comparing Him to superheroes from popular culture (some specific examples are given in the Getting Started section). Most young people today are deeply familiar with popular culture and popular media because they are surrounded by it on all sides. Drawing illustrations and parallels between biblical truths and popular culture can sometimes make biblical truth relevant to them—but a few cautions should be kept in mind:

• Make sure the illustrations you choose are culturally relevant to and sensitive to the community in which your youth live.

• Don’t attempt (especially if you are a generation older than your students) to appear “up-to-date” with your references to pop culture—you will almost certainly end up looking more out-of-date! Give examples from your own frame of reference (e.g., “When I was a teenager, one of the popular shows on TV was . . .”) and then ask them to supply examples from their own cultural frame of reference.

• Be sure to point out differences between the values of our culture and the values of the Bible. While similarities can be useful, we should be aware of the differences, too. For example, this week’s Getting Started activity points out some similarities between Jesus and comic book superheroes—but also mentions the most important difference: superheroes triumph through strength and the use of force, while Jesus triumphed through weakness and self-sacrifice.