The Impact of Secular Music
The influence music has on us is really powerful so we need to make sure the songs we listen to do not negatively impact our relationships, worldview, or faith.
The Discussion Starter:
This YouTube video focuses on secular music, its influence over us, and how we should choose what music to listen to in our lives. The video features the thoughts of vlogger Joseph Solomon who produces content for his channel called Chase God TV.
He gives a wonderfully fair and balanced approach to secular music in this video. In addition to discussing what qualifies a song as secular, he raises some great questions to challenge our thinking. Even better, he also employs some pretty good humor to make his points.
The video is a little longer than usual (10 minutes), so you might choose to show just one section. Use it in whatever way best benefits your group.
Introducing the Video – You Say This:
Hey guys, I want to show you a great clip on the issue of secular music. By secular music, I mean the music that dominates most radio stations, most movies, and most playlists on our mobile devices. The guy in this clip, Joe, does a great job making us think about the music we listen to. I encourage you to keep an open mind to what he has to say regardless of the kind of music you listen to. After he has his say, we’ll get a chance to break down his ideas in our small groups. Cool?
The Video Clip:
You can access the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLCQZPBgN_M&feature=youtu.be
Transitional Statement – You Say This:
Alright, so Joe gave us a lot to think about. Even some of his jokes and illustrations were eye-opening to me. Maybe you agree with everything he said…and maybe you disagree with everything he said. Either way, it’s hard to ignore the obvious fact that music influences us on deeper levels than we usually think about. For that reason alone, we need to make sure the songs we listen to do not negatively impact our relationships, worldview, or faith. Let’s talk about that now.
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.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Let’s all take a second to share our names and our favorite song of all time..
- ASK A FEW: The video we just watched was about secular music. How do you define “secular music”?
- ASK A FEW: Do you agree with the following statement? “All secular music is bad and shouldn’t be listened to by Christians.” Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: Can you name some secular songs that are fairly positive? Can you name some secular songs that are clearly negative? (Leaders – If a student suggests one that you are unfamiliar with or are unsure of, take about 30 seconds to simply do a search of the lyrics on your smartphone.)
- ASK A FEW: Speaking of positive and negative, can music have positive or negative influences on us? If not, why not? If so, in what ways?
- ASK A FEW: Is anyone honest enough to talk about how you’ve noticed music affecting you? For example, the way you view someone else, the way you think about an issue, the way you treat others, etc. (Leaders – To get this discussion going, you may want to talk about how a certain song tempts you to drive a little faster than usual or reminds you of someone you know/love.)
- ASK A FEW: How can we determine which music is good…and which music is bad?
Read the Following Passage:
Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
- ASK SOMEONE: The Apostle Paul wrote this part of the Bible. Can you list the kinds of things he tells us to think about? I’ll give you a hint: there are 8!
- ASK A FEW: I’d like for us to slow down for just a moment. Can we discuss each of those 8 qualities in more detail? I’m going to list each of them one by one and you tell me what each of them means. Ready?
Worthy of Praise
- ASK A FEW: In your opinion, is Philippians 4:8 a good standard for gauging the music we listen to? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: How much of today’s secular music meets the standards Paul outlines in Philippians 4:8? Why is that?
OPTIONAL (BUT STRONGLY RECOMMENDED):
Check out the top ten songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart. (You can access the every-changing list of music by clicking here.) These top ten songs are, without a doubt, the most influential songs at any given time. But just because they’re popular doesn’t mean they’re pure.
Let a student in your group pick a song from the top ten, and then search the lyrics on Google. Analyze the song based on the 8 qualities Paul lists in Philippians. (If you have time, you may also want to gauge the song’s official music video by the same standards. They can almost always be found on YouTube.)
- ASK A FEW: How difficult would it be for you to change your music selection to make sure it fits within the boundaries of Philippians 4:8? What would it cost you? What would you gain?
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: What immediate changes will you make to your playlists because of the instructions found in Philippians 4:8?
Wrap Up – You Say This: I had a blast with this conversation! Like most people, I really enjoy music. Also, like most people, I don’t always think about how much a song influences me…whether that influence is good or bad. So that’s why I got a lot out of this discussion, personally.
Let’s be honest with ourselves; we use music in a variety of ways. For example, as Joe joked in the video, husbands and wives don’t “set the mood” by playing rap music. Likewise, none of your schools use opera music at pep rallies! And I don’t know about you, but when I’m at the gym or out running, I’m not listening to hymns. I gotta have something with a driving beat! Bottom line: secular music is a huge part of our lives! But that doesn’t mean we have to let harmful secular music influence us in negative ways.
I want to emphasize something Joe did a great job talking about on the video. Just because a song is “secular” doesn’t mean that song is bad. I mean, the national anthem is technically a secular song. But that’s not a “bad” song, is it? There are hundreds and hundreds of songs about friendship, love, hard work, sacrifice, etc. that might technically be “secular” but also contain a wonderfully true and positive message.
I think the point is pretty clear: if a secular song is demeaning towards someone, or promotes a “do whatever you feel at the moment” mindset, or is overtly sexual, or something else that is obviously unbiblical, then it should be avoided. If a secular song is clean, promotes love or help toward others, or encourages you to be better, then it’s probably OK.
So, I’d like to issue you a challenge. I encourage you to swipe through your playlists before you go to bed tonight. If there is a song – or even a full album – that you know blatantly opposes the qualities of Philippians 4:8, delete it. In fact – and this might be cool little experiment – keep a list of the songs you delete from your playlists and how your mindset, attitude, and behavior changes over the next few weeks and months. I’d be really interested in talking with you about that going forward.
As always, if you want to discuss this farther, I encourage you to speak with me or one of our adult leaders before you leave. It would be our honor to help you with something so important!
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
David R. Smith is the author of several books including Christianity... It's Like This and speaks to parents and leaders across the U.S. David is a 15-year youth ministry veteran, now a senior pastor, who specializes in sharing the gospel, and equipping others do the same. David provides free resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.