Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Re: Thoughts on last night's service for youth in Atlanta, GA: Is Hip Hop Dead?

There are responses to both your church's focus and recent event as well as my comments and clearly there are more saints around the country and world who are praying for each other to continue our collective efforts to expand the kingdom of God.

I am continually flipping back and forth between our recent messages as I compose this message tonight.

The greatest success that I saw last week was that the curtain of awareness was finally raised for the first time within the eyes of the youth.

Your slideshow had undeniable truths that some African-American artists clearly have not been as responsible with the access to our youth as they should have been.  Their access needs to be reduced and eliminated as much as possible.  But we must remember to continue to pray for these people to be saved or finally live according to the Christian faith that they profess at award shows:)

God loves them still as well.

A couple of analogies come to mind that babysitting or eating out as activities of life are not the problems as are the providers of such services.

Fire and electricity are equally not the enemies and threats as are uncontrolled, ignored, random, and unattended fires and electricity that will destroy our homes, churches, and everything physical that has value.

Again, I raise my point of saying "Hip hop is not really the enemy as failure to "train up a child in the way that they should go" is.  The Scripture must not be falsely restricted to personal responsibility but expanded to include church responsibility as well".

The enemy is not the multimedia that our youth are going to be exposed to regardless of our efforts, but the explicit, negative quality of the content and the lack of parental and mentor involvement within the lives of the youth.  Or better yet, the enemy is the world's system of separating us from our children daily. 

But should we become unemployed and turn them over to the oversight of the states in order to spend more time with them?  Should we begin the first African-American Amish community? 

Should we expect them to wear veils, earplugs, and blindfolds?  By no means are these feasible solutions.  Neither is destroying the devices that will play television programs, DVDs, CDs, MP3s, etc.

Someone has to buy the content in order to destroy it.  Destroyed content can be downloaded and digitally reacquired these days.  The civil rights movement and nonviolent teachings of Gandhi and Rev. King have already proven that boycotts are more effective.  The abstinence message clearly has a place here as well.

Such recommendations to mass destruction of media and electronic devices are better equipped for another battlefield other than ones our youth will find themselves on.  Comments like this are immediately disqualified by the youth.

The youth have simply used the messages of the world to fill the empty spaces that responsible adults should fill with the Word of God and example.

Before last Friday night, the youth had either little awareness of a criteria to judge the messages that they were continually exposed to as good or bad or that they lacked the regular effort, resistance, or courage to say no to their peers and others who were consistently offering the content for them to consume.  I believe that the latter applies more than the former.

The need is to create the ability to push back against the negative peer pressure and content.

Again, your youth only represent what is happening within African-American youth especially and youth overall in society nationwide and worldwide.

Their "immune system" has a deficiency and if we are not careful, spiritual AIDS will be the result.

Through more parental and mentor involvement, their awareness can be raised to the point that they are indeed empowered and equipped to forcefully resist as we pray that they will.

Today's youth have the boldness and zeal that we know that they are capable of, but it is often misdirected.  Only intimate Christian education and corporate church involvement is going to turn this around.

But if the parents see nothing wrong with the content that was shown last week themselves and the artists are not considered threats as a result of releasing the content, then clearly the youth will not be the "cheerful givers" of providing items to be destroyed.

The entertainment companies are just as responsible as they sanctioned each release as well as their shareholders.

Your midpoint service of the series now has the responsibility of providing an alternative or introducing them to an alternative Christian choices more so than destroying existing content.

Provide them with the criteria to make judgment calls as you have done, demonstrate the alternatives or make them just as aware of the suitable alternatives or desired direction (toward God and exalting Him within everything that they do, desire, love, and have an ability for) within gospel hip hop and other talents that they have and develop, and they will destroy or discard the former content on their own.

God looks at the heart and is not as concerned as to what takes place in the eyes of man as He is when we are alone, isolated, and behind closed doors.  Everything else will be just a public show.

Hip hop is just the envelope and not the letter itself just as telling parables and miracles were and still are Christ's tool for delivering the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Hip hop and other forms of culture have to be arrested, repossessed, and transformed just as we desire the hearts and minds of the unsaved to be renewed.  We must divide the spoils among the brethren as the Word tells us.  There is no better way to tell the world that God reigns than the "flip the script" on everything the enemy holds in high regard and make it bow down to serve God instead.

To cast away what has been proven to work is not profitable to our cause.

This is where the healing will begin and the seeds of future success will be planted.

By all means keep the dialogue going especially when one side or the other wants silence instead.  Silence expands the generation gap versus closing it.

God's solution is multidimensional and all of us can and will achieve our objectives and missions.  Our descendants (physically and spiritually) depend upon our success.

I am looking forward to witnessing the ministries, testimonies, and active lifestyles of Christians who were not there last week as well as those who did not minister due to the need for conversation that was clearly present.

Finally, one thought that popped back into my head is the shock that I had and still have from the sister who considered the internet as a paid access medium versus for free through local libraries, etc.

The thought makes me wonder if anyone has ever trained our youth how to take full advantage of the technological tools that would have been considered as nuclear weapons when we were their ages. 

One immediate long-term objective that I envision for our youth to fulfill our pastor's vision is to equip them to organize and operate the multimedia ministry within our church (audio, video, text, internet) from A to Z.

Check out this video to see an example of youth on fire:

Any pastor that does not want this kind of fire within the sanctuary raises more questions than answers.

Don't give up and keep marching onward Christian Soldier!

See you and Greater Bethany Friday night God willing.


Roney Smith

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