Truth or Dare (Part 2)

Lesson 1: The Truth About Media

Lessons in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Overview Lesson Index

Lesson Workbook Click here


1. To get students to realize they are a target of huge companies
2. To reconstruct the idea of what entertainment is
3. To convince students they should critique media, not consume it


Contentment, Coveting, Deception, Idols, Self Control, Temptation, Truth, Truthfulness

Scripture Memorization

Proverbs 15:14


OPENING PRAYER (5 to 10 minutes)

GROUP BUILDING (15 minutes)   

Workbook Activity 

Favorite Times
Break up into groups of 4 or 5 and have everyone talk about the following questions. After sharing, each student should write honest answers.

• What is your favorite movie of all time?  ____________________________________________

• What channel on television do you watch more than any other? __________________________

• About how many hours of television do you watch each week? ___________________________

• How much time do you spend on the Internet per week? ________________________________

• What/Who is/are your favorite band(s)? _____________________________________________


GETTING STARTED (12 minutes)

Today, we will talk about the truth in media. We live in a media-saturated society. Information and entertainment fly at us a million miles per second. Let’s play a guessing game. I’ll ask a question and you guess what you think the answer is. If you don’t get it right after a couple of guesses, I’ll tell you the answer. (Source: Mueller, Walt. Youth Culture 101. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007. Print):

1. How many commercial messages do you think you are exposed to each day, not just commercials on television but billboards, pop-ups online, etc. (ANSWER: between 3,500 and 5,000.)

2. How much money do you think the advertising industry spends targeting messages towards your age and younger? (ANSWER: 15 billion dollars per year.)

3. The average American household has the television on how much per day? (ANSWER: 8 hours and 11 minutes.)

We are a culture that entertains itself. We shop. We watch. We listen. We surf the Internet. Social Media giants like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are getting rich off our obsession with media and our incessant need to be entertained.

Do you realize you are a target for huge companies that are selling more than a product? Do you understand that when you watch a movie or listen to a song, you are listening to a sermon? Today, let’s decide the truth about media and see what the Bible has to say about the voices we listen to.

DIGGING IN (30 minutes)

To start, let me ask you to listen to some quotes from an MTV executive when asked about his company’s approach on entertaining.

“The strongest appeal you can make…is emotionally. If you can get their emotions going, make them forget their logic, you’ve got ‘em.”

“At MTV we don’t shoot for the 14 year olds, we own them.” 

(Mueller, Walt. Youth Culture 101. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007. Print.)

General Discussion:
1. When you hear the above quotations, what do you think?

You must realize you are targeted as a consumer. While you are entertained, there are people competing for your attention, money, and emotions.

2. How does that make you feel? (Manipulated.)

Think of the television you watch, movies you see, time you spend listening to music, surfing the net, editing your profile, reading magazines, etc.

3. How many hours per week do you spend interacting with some form of media?

I want to challenge you to be discerning and not consume wholly the media you’re exposed to. Instead, be a filter and critic. Think about what you are consuming and why. Ask yourself what a medium’s goal is. Ask what it represents. Analyze it. And decide whether you will buy into what it is selling. As we continue in our study, I want you to memorize a verse with me and roll it over in your mind again and again.  

Read Proverbs 15:14 “The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly."

Discussion Questions:
1. What makes you want to buy something?

2. What do you think the thousands of advertisements you see each day are trying to get you to buy? Is it more than a product? (Yes, it is a lifestyle.)

The truth is, you are being told you need something. Listen to this quote from a marketing guru when asked how the guru sells his product, in this case, hamburgers:

“We’ve taken a page from Satan’s book. Find a point of weakness and lust in every man, woman, and child, and target that weakness to make them want to buy the product.”

(Mueller, Walt. Youth Culture 101. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007. Print.)

Do you need to have a certain foundation to make your skin more moist? Is a certain pizza really that much better than another? Will a new razor with five or six blades really make that good looking girl kiss you? Will one scented candle really make everyone want to come to your house and be your friend? Are these messages for real?

Optional Activity (10 minutes)

(If you meet in a place where you can, turn on a TV and wait for a commercial break. Challenge your students to look at the commercials with critical lenses and answer the question, “What are they trying to tell me?”)

Read Philippians 1:9-11

Discussion Questins:
1. We all agree that we need to discern between the things we allow into our brains. Why does this Scripture tell us to do that? (so that we may be blameless)
2. How can adopting the mixed messages of our culture interrupt the development of our “fruit of righteousness"?
3. How can movies, music, and other forms of media perform the same tasks as advertising?

The truth is, every movie is a sermon. Think of your favorite movie. Wasn’t it trying to make a point? Can any of you name some? (Allow time for students to share.)

There is a moral behind every story. Some stories, though, lead us to morals that are not Christ-like. When you take in media without thinking about it, you are setting yourself up for a spiritual failure. It’s just a fact.

Read Proverbs 3:21-23

Discussion Questions:
1. What is the author of this Proverb encouraging us to do? (Keep wisdom and discernment close.)
2. What is the consequence if we do not do so? (Our feet will stumble.)

By discerning the messages sent our way, we are being Christlike. That’s not to say we never listen to a “secular” song or watch a movie that is rated more than “G.” It just means that no matter what we’re doing, watching videos on YouTube or whatever, we should be discerning what we allow our eyes to see, ears to hear, and minds to think.
One last point. There is such a thing as “mindless entertainment.” You can be online for hours and not do a thing. You can watch home-made videos or edit your profile and take up tons of time. This is not necessarily bad. But let’s look at one last verse:

Read Proverbs 18:15
 “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.”

Some of you need a change of habit. You are spending way too much time consuming media. Proverbs says a discerning heart seeks out wisdom and knowledge. Chances are this does not mean watching two animated hippos jump rope on YouTube. 

MAKING IT REAL (5 minutes)

If I asked you how much time you spent reading your Bible, praying, serving others, or building face-to-face relationship, chances are it’s going to be less than the number we came up with when I asked how much media we consume.

Everyone refer back to your workbook activity earlier. I want to issue a one-for-one challenge. For one week, try to balance your life:

• For every hour you spend on the Internet, spend an hour reading your Bible.
• For every hour you watch TV, spend an hour in prayer.
• For every hour you spend listening to music, spend an hour serving someone.

One-for-one. This will put stuff into perspective for sure and help you be more aware of the time you’re spending taking in media.

One last challenge. When you are bombarded with advertisements that tell you that you are too short or too tall or too clumsy or too ugly or fat or skinny or whatever, think about what they’re trying to sell you. Those companies don’t care about you—they only care about your money.

Jesus, on the other hand, cares about you. He’s not trying to sell you something, He’s just trying to get your attention long enough to tell you He loves you.

That’s something worth buying into.

CLOSING PRAYER (2 minutes)

Pray that everyone spends their time in a meaningful way, by cultivating their relationship with Jesus.

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