On February 5, 2013 the Harlem Shake went viral. As of February 14th, in a matter of 9 days, almost 40,000 spinoffs have been uploaded and have been watched over 175 million times. CRAZY!! This is the most unbelievable viral event of all time! (Facts courtesy of youtube-trends) While there have been many viral videos of note, including, but not limited to, Justin Bieber's Baby, Friday, Call Me Maybe, Gangum Style, or Ryan Reed's new blog, this was one of the fastest parody pileups of all time. And the best part is that your parody only has to be 30 seconds long! (Here is our below average offering)
This viral video was made for youth pastors.
With 40,000 videos uploaded and counting, where is yours? All it takes is downloading the song, Harlem Shake, 3-3000 people, a helmet, and let the dance party begin. I am someone who prides myself for at least trying to have my thumb on the cultural heartbeat. I have written about how to stay culturally relevant, how to find work arounds to know what music is hip, and I have even made my own Call Me Maybe video.
But the total speed of this viral video has caused me to once again realize what it is that I am supposed to do. As youth workers we must understand our cultural context, that is for sure! But we must fully own the reality that we are not hip, cool, relevant, or cutting edge. At best we can simply mimic cool and funny things in our culture. At best we are simply a shadow of pop culture.
We DO have what our cultural desperately needs!!
They need acceptance, love, belonging, grace, identity, friendship, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, connection, and purpose. This is the church's bread and butter! We know and serve a God who gives this and so much more. We create culture at church and with in our student ministries that isn't hip or cool. But it is a culture that is inviting, that allows space to actually encounter the living God, and that sends them out with real purpose.
Let us not spend so much time and energy in efforts to be hip and stay up on all that is going on at the expense of doing the thing we actually are called to do! Our less hip youth ministry that actually offers friendship and belonging, where they experience forgiveness and grace, as they explore their faith will never come close the the viral explosion of the Harlem Shake.
So, make your Harlem Shake video. Post your links in the comments. Have a good laugh! But please, please, please, let us die to our desires to be hip, cool, and relevant, and let us bring to the table what popular culture wishes it could, and desperately needs!
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