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1. A Viral Revival

What it is: A college chapel service in Wilmore, Kentucky seems to have ignited a revival that has lasted weeks and spread to other college campuses.
Why it could be a banner of hope: For most Christians, news of revival of any sort is a reason to get excited. But some wonder if there is a disconnect between the spectacle of a massive worship gathering and real change in people’s hearts. The long term outcomes of this “revival” are, of course, unclear. What we know is that thousands of people have made the pilgrimage to Asbury College, where a 1,500 seat auditorium has been packed with people praying and singing. #asburyrevival has over 100 million TikTok views, with many young people giving first-hand accounts of what it was like to be there. And yet, unlike many modern religious gatherings, these spontaneous worshippers have not looked to increase their exposure or capitalize on people’s curiosity. The events at Asbury have many young people excited about what God can do, and particularly how He can move in their generation.

2. Rise and Shine

What it is: TikTok’s #5to9 club and #morningroutine videos are inspiring some young people to start their days earlier for maximum productivity.
Why it can be exhausting: #morningroutine has over 14 billion views as of this writing, and depicts all types of morning routines—from the slow and relaxing weekend morning to the office commuter’s Monday chaos. One particular niche points out all of the self-care and chores that can be accomplished in the hours between 5 and 9am, if one would only commit to an early morning wakeup. The Washington Post points out that this type of content is seen as aspirational but also attainable; theoretically, anyone who would like to start waking up early can do so. In practice, though, waking up at an earlier hour is a big adjustment, and not everyone thrives on the same daily rhythms. Finding a consistent morning routine can be grounding and helpful, especially if it includes devoting some time to our spiritual development. However, simply mimicking the routine of a productivity influencer can quickly lead to burnout and discouragement, especially if a teen has perfectionist tendencies or a schedule that’s already packed with extracurriculars.

3. Witch Trials

What it is: The Free Press is releasing a podcast series called “The Witch Trials of JK Rowling,” in which the Harry Potter series author speaks about her career and gender activism.
Why it’s especially timely: Rowling has come under fire in recent years for expressing views and funding activism that some have considered transphobic. This brought a dimension of embattlement to the release of Hogwarts: Legacy, an open-world RPG video game that debuted earlier this month. Some fans of the Potter series have been conflicted over whether playing this game crosses an ethical red line. The podcast series lets Rowling explain her perspective on these issues. It also highlights the fact that some of the initial furor over Harry Potter was actually from evangelicals, when the series was being criticized for introducing children to themes of witchcraft and darkness. Stay tuned for our March 1 episode of The Deep Dive, where we’ll dive into all things Hogwarts: Legacy.

Song of the Week

“Die For You” by The Weeknd: reaching #7 on Billboard and #9 on Spotify, this (older) song from The Weeknd is about being utterly devoted to someone else, even when you don’t necessarily want to be. Even though its album Starboy came out in 2016, a surge of new interaction with it on TikTok brings it back into the limelight. For the lyrics to this song, click here. 

Translation: A Viral Revival

Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” The thing about taste is that it’s entirely experiential. Knowing what something tastes like, even being able to describe what something tastes like, isn’t the same as actually tasting it. In that sense, this verse serves as an invitation to experience firsthand the goodness of God—and it seems like many students at Asbury and beyond have been doing just that.

Participants in these worship sessions (many of which have been Gen Z-led) describe “an unexplainable, surreal peace” descending upon the room, and being filled with love for God and others. Others describe feeling a “sweet presence,” “deep peace,” or “the quiet, heavy presence of God.”

But some Christians are concerned that events like these aren’t intellectually rigorous enough. As JP Moreland once wrote in a commentary on the Great Awakenings, “Much good came from these movements. But their overall effect was to overemphasize immediate personal conversion to Christ instead of a studied period of reflection and conviction; emotional, simple, popular preaching instead of intellectually careful and doctrinally precise sermons; and personal feelings and relationship to Christ instead of a deep grasp of the nature of Christian teaching and ideas.” The concern of some is that these “revivals” might only amount to an emotional high that doesn’t last longer than a couple of weeks.

Intellectual rigor is clearly a good thing. And yet, it’s just as possible to have “a deep grasp of the nature of Christian ideas” and to remain totally emotionally unengaged. The goal is to engage God with every part of who we are, including our emotions, our minds, and our affections. As Jesus himself said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” We pray that such revivals continue, and that seeds planted there will be watered by deep theological teaching and lasting connection with our Creator.

Here are some questions to spark conversation with your teens about this:

  • Had you already heard about what’s been going on at Asbury? What are your thoughts about it?
  • Had you already heard about what’s been going on at Asbury? What are your thoughts about it?
  • What’s one thing you hope to see God do in your generation?