The Center for Youth Ministry Training is promoting a new Bible study:
Introducing a new Bible study series from the Center for Youth Ministry Training: "And That's What You Missed on Glee!" Our graduate residents have written an eight lesson series based on FOX's hit show to be used in weekly Bible study or small group meetings. The authors chose a handful of episodes to focus on, each of which covers a topic that the teens in your youth group (and in theirs) are dealing with—bullying, sexuality, and faith, to name a few.
You can download Lesson 1—Not Just a Loser: "Objective/Lesson Overview: When society tells us that fame and popularity are 'so important,' are we all losers for not living up to the impossible standards? Or are all the talents and gifts God has given us important and are what can make us happy?"
The study takes us through an episode of Glee, asking questions like:
Why do you think Tina chose to sing Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl”? Does she really want to kiss a girl or is she trying to get attention?
Rachel wants change in her life now because she feels the clock ticking and doesn’t want to leave high school with nothing to show for her time spent there. Have you ever felt like Rachel, tired of being laughed at or that everyone hates you? Or if not, what would it feel like to think that?
They include Jesus as an illustration of someone who wasn't accepted by His peers:
In the Matthew passage Jesus was somewhat of an outcast. He wasn’t following the law in the way the Pharisees saw fit. They wanted to catch Jesus in the act of what they saw as wrong to make him an outcast so that no one would want to listen, follow or pay any attention to what He was trying to do. How is this the same in your school or even in youth group? Are others not accepted for certain things that they do or activities that they take part in?
Then they close with an encouragement to "overcome that fear of being a 'loser,'" freeing yourself to pursue what makes you happy:
Are you secretly taking piano lessons, but afraid to share your gift with others because you may not be as good as you think you should be?...
Do you want to be in the talent show, but afraid your friends might make fun of you?
Are you afraid to tell your friends you go to church every Sunday because they might think you are a goody-two-shoes?...
Be the one who isn't afraid anymore.
If you're using Glee to teach the Bible, then you might not be teaching the Bible. Here's what I mean (and I see this happen all too often): a person will choose a topic on which to preach or teach and then tack on a verse at the end that could be construed as being related. But the teaching didn't arise out of the Bible. That is, it could have come from anywhere—Glee, Oprah, or even Happy Days. The verse simply functions as support.
But the Bible isn't just a collection of independent verses on topics of morality and self-esteem, it's a story about God—our Creator and Redeemer who is the beginning and end of all things, and the center of every purpose we embrace. Everything we study ought to be studied in relation to Him and His story. As soon as you separate bits of moral instruction from this great, central truth, you may be teaching something true about morality, but your instruction ceases to be Christian, let alone biblical.
If you're teaching a Bible study, ask yourself, is the Bible really central to my teaching, or does it just serve as an illustration of my point (an illustration I could have dug out of a number of other books)? Could I teach this same lesson without using the Bible at all? Without referencing God at all? If you could, then your lesson is not about God or the Bible, even if you use the word "God" at some point or read a Bible verse.
And that is my biggest problem with this first lesson of the new Glee study, which is firmly focused on us, with the minor characters of God and our talents functioning as the means to self-esteem and courage. It's utterly empty of the majesty of God.
Now don't get me wrong, I think a study on Glee for youth could be very valuable: What worldview is being promoted here? How are they shaping the way you view reality? What are they teaching about right and wrong, and how does that line up with the truth? Helping students think critically about the media they're taking in is valuable and even necessary.
But in this case, they're not evaluating Glee from the perspective of a biblical worldview, they're exegeting Glee in order to build a perspective…with a couple Bible verses thrown in to make it "Christian." This is a lot of things—a good time for kids to hang out, a lesson on self-esteem and not following the in-crowd, a way to help kids have the courage to do what they like to do, even if it's not "cool." But it's not a Bible study.