Ministry Today – Serving and empowering church leaders

Disciples of Disney?

Why young adults need to hear a ‘better song’— biblical truths about love and marriaged-MinLife-Youth

I sing a lot in my sermons. I sing because students know and resonate with the songs that they have heard since they were children. In fact, young adults’ ideas about love and marriage are usually formed more by Disney movies and other media than biblical narratives. So I grab their attention by singing a familiar Disney song and then explain a better story—God’s story. Here are three lies that Disney movies tell young people.

Teens are worthy of worship by someone of the opposite sex. You know the story—it’s the all-too-familiar young romance movie. A young man becomes infatuated with the striking beauty of a young woman, going to great lengths to woo her. He will kill any dragon, trek any foreign land and embrace any hardship to be with the young lady. Once he rescues her, he sings, praises and whisks her away to a life of bliss. It’s a great story. It’s fun, exciting and pulls at our heartstrings. However, there is a problem. God is left out of the story.

Here is a better story: a God-honoring man goes to great lengths to woo the heart of a woman who fears God. Together, they honor God by serving and loving each other for the rest of their lives. These two stories have similar plots, but the difference lies in who is worthy of being worshipped.

In the first story, “you” are worthy of worship by someone of the opposite sex. This lie plagues young adults, causing them to believe that they will find emotional fulfillment by being worshipped or worshipping someone of the opposite sex. 

So a young man will worship a young lady—or vice versa—as a substitute for worshipping God. In time, disappointment arises because only God is worthy of our worship. The Scriptures beckon us to love our spouses, but not worship them.

Teens are mature enough for romance. In the Disney movies, once a young girl reaches her upper teen years, she’s ready for romance. Whether it’s Ariel or Rapunzel, it’s the same storyline. Media and culture shove our students toward teen romance. As pastors, it’s our responsibility to fight against the over-glorification of teen romance and contend for a culture of purity in our student ministries.

In our youth ministry, I often explain that the purpose of dating is to find a Christian spouse. If a student desires to get married in high school, go ahead and explore dating now. If they want to get married when they are more mature, teen romance is a waste of time and a total distraction. Of course, very few students actually want to get married in high school and the majority will choose to wait.

Everyone lives happily ever after. Recently, I was speaking with a young woman in our student ministry and she said, “All the movies end with a wedding, but what happens after that? The marriages of the people I know personally have all ended in divorce, except yours.” She asked a great question that can be answered better by watching an example rather than listening to a sermon.

As simplistic as it may be, young adults will form much of their perception of a Christian marriage by what they see in our own marriages. Whether we like it or not, students are watching and forming ideas of what Christian marriage looks like based upon our example. So investing in your marriage is actually also investing in young people. 

Likewise, if we fail in loving our spouses well, we lose in our marriage and in our ministries to youngsters as well. It can be a double a loss or a double win.

Let’s be intentional about building a culture of worship and purity in our ministries to young adults. Jesus told us to make disciples. If we don’t, Disney will.

David Perkins serves as the pastor of student ministries at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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