Spiritual Growth Agendas, Topical Curriculum

The Death of DJ AM

Main Point: We can’t truly help others until we have been transformed by Jesus Christ.

Discussion Starter: The death of DJ AM.

You can start your discussion on this topic in a number of ways. The best way is to show this video from MTV.com that talks about DJ AM’s inspiration to help others AND then:

  1. Read the article about Adam’s death to your students.

  2. Show them a few of the short video clips from MTV.com that covered the unfolding tragedy.

  3. Read this summation below.

Adam Goldstein, better known as DJ AM, recently died of an accidental drug overdose in his New York City apartment. In interviews over the years, the 36 year old disc jockey spoke openly about his former drug addiction that lasted from childhood into his early 20’s.

Adam gained tremendous popularity as a DJ during the decade he was sober. He was part of a band named Crazy Town with a hit entitled “Butterfly.” He also played at many celebrity parties, and had a weekly show at a club in Vegas. He was best friends with Travis Barker, the drummer from Blink 182, and they often palled around together. In 2008, the two of them were the only survivors of a plane that crashed during takeoff.

Adam quickly recovered from his injuries and resumed his DJ-ing at clubs and parties. Wanting to help others who struggled with an addiction, he began recording a TV show with MTV called “Gone Too Far.” The show was set to air later this year, until Adam’s death in August.

Adam’s death has now officially been ruled an “accident” instead of a suicide, but the tragedy remains. A young person with tons of talent, who wanted to help others, didn’t have his own life straightened out.

Transitional Statement:
DJ AM learned a hard lesson the hardest way of all: if you want to try and help people, you have to have received help yourself. He tried to help out people with addictions, which is a noble idea. Unfortunately, he wasn’t quite over that particular hurdle in his own life. Likewise, you and I can’t offer a whole lot of help to others if we haven’t let Christ save us and change our lives first (specifically healing us of any addictions or broken areas in our lives that we may have had). Of course, we are a “work in progress” and none of us are perfect the moment we accept Christ. But we definitely need to be careful and know our limitations.

Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we begin, let’s take a second to share our names and our favorite band.

  2. ASK A FEW: What did you know about DJ AM before his recent death?

  3. ASK A FEW: What did you feel/think when you first heard that DJ AM had died?

  4. ASK A FEW: Adam and close friend Travis Barker were the only survivors of a plane crash in late 2008. Do you think that qualifies as a “second chance” on life? Why or why not?

  5. ASK A FEW: When he died, DJ AM had been recording a TV show for MTV entitled Gone Too Far, a show that was intended to help people who struggled with addictions. Do you think DJ AM was qualified to do a TV show like this? Why or why not?

  6. ASK A FEW: Do you think there are some Christians who try to help others, but can’t because they aren’t qualified? Explain.

  7. Read the following passage:

      Acts 19:11-17 (NIV)
      11God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

      13Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15(One day) the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

      17When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.

  8. ASK SOMEONE: Why do you think the seven sons of Sceva were unsuccessful in casting the demon out of this particular man? (Leaders – it’s pretty clear that they did not really know and love Jesus. They just “knew of” Jesus and didn’t truly “know Jesus.” Maybe also they were trying to do it in their own power and the Spirit wasn't truly working through them.)

  9. ASK A FEW: Why do you think the seven sons of Sceva acted the way they did?

  10. ASK SOMEONE: What kind of price did the seven sons of Sceva pay?

  11. ASK A FEW: Do you think there are similarities between DJ AM’s story and the seven sons of Sceva’ story? Why or why not? (Leaders – Yes. DJ AM and the seven sons of Sceva were all trying to do something they weren’t quite qualified to do. DJ AM hadn’t truly been set free from drug addiction and the seven sons of Sceva didn’t truly have a relationship with Jesus.)

  12. ASK A FEW: How do you think DJ AM’s death will affect his reputation and/or his legacy?

  13. ASK A FEW: What are some lessons we can learn from DJ AM’s tragedy?

  14. ASK A FEW: As a Christian, what are some ways you want to help others? Are you truly ready to do that, or not?

  15. ASK A FEW: What are some preparations/changes we need to make in our own lives so we are able to help others?

  16. AROUND THE CIRCLE: What will you do THIS WEEK that will allow you to be able to truly help others?

Wrap Up:
Even if we didn’t know that much about DJ AM, I think we can all agree, it was deeply saddening to hear of his death. Even if we weren’t familiar with his music, it was clear that he was successful, and he should have had many more years ahead of him.

What’s really cool about DJ AM’s life and story is that he wanted to help others overcome the same kind of drug abuse and addictions he faced in life. That’s a really caring and generous thing to do.

Unfortunately, DJ AM hadn’t quite resolved his own problem before trying to tackle other people’s problems. And these weren’t small problems; they were huge problems! In the end, DJ AM wasn’t able to help others, because he had never really and truly been helped himself.

I see this in our faith walk, a lot, too. Just like the passage we read from Acts 19 tonight, a lot of Christian teenagers run around trying to help their friends with certain issues or struggles, but they have the same unresolved issues in their own life. For example, there are lots of Christian teenagers who want to help their friends break free of lust, but they have an addiction to Internet pornography themselves. Others want to help their friends or family members learn to control their tongue, but they have foul mouths, themselves. The list can go on and on.

And the truth is, we can’t help others until we let Christ totally change us and transform us. DJ AM learned that lesson the hard way. I hope you don’t have to learn the same lesson under such terrible circumstances.

This is really serious stuff. Yes, as Christians, the world needs our help. But we are not going to be able to truly help them unless we allow Jesus Christ to totally change our lives.

If you are in here tonight and you try your best to follow Jesus with your life and you want to make a difference in the lives of others, but know you still secretly struggle with something that’s holding you back, I invite you to speak with one of our adult leaders before you leave tonight. Not only can they pray with you, but they can help you overcome the struggles you have that keep you from truly helping those in your life.

Close in Prayer

Written by David R. Smith


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

Reply your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*