Russell Bowlin is the youth director at my father-in-law’s church in Texarkana, TX. While my wife and I were visiting them a couple weeks ago, we hang out at their youth meetings. Russell led a significant discussion on how we live our lives as a show at church and youth group but outside in “real life” we live lives that are often completely void of God. (Tip: If you haven’t read Malachi from The Message yet, you need to! I dare anyone to just read that short little book in front of your congregation and then sit down. You’ll probably lose your job because it hits so close to home.)
Russell took Jon Foreman’s song (lead singer of Switchfoot), “Instead of a Show,” played the song for the teens with the lyrics overhead, and then lead the discussion. (Grab the song here in iTunes.”)
Here’s a copy of Russell’s notes:
1. Listen to “Instead of a Show” by Jon Foreman. If possible, use power point or some kind of media to project words. The power point I made has a slide for each of the lines in the song. This may seem odd or excessive, but I find that it helps to keep people focused on listening to the message of the song, instead of reading ahead. I also chose to have a plain black background with white letters in an attempt to make sure the focus is on the message, not the cool design, etc.
2. Open up with some discussion starters/clarifying questions
- Who is speaking in the song? Or, who is “I” referring to in the song?
- Who is God (“I”) speaking to?
- How did the song make you feel?
- What do you think “a show” is referring to?
- Does the problem come from the way we worship, or could it be that the problem is that the rest of our lives don’t always line up with the way we worship?
- Does God “need” us to worship?
- What does God desire from the church/Christians?
- Do you think that this song is speaking to a problem in the church today?
3. Use some scriptures
- The song comes from Isaiah 1:11-18
- Sections of Amos 5 have some striking similarities to the Isaiah passage.
- Matthew 6:1-8 Jesus talks about “shows” of religion
- Titus 3:3-8 We did not earn salvation, but we are commanded to do good
This can be a powerful discussion or Bible study as youth and adults explore the difference between going to church and living a life for Christ. Here’s a guest blog entry he wrote for worship leaders based on this song.
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Posted on August 29, 2008