The Harlem Shake: Jerusalem Style!
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

The Harlem Shake: Jerusalem Style!



One might have argued last year that the internet explosion of “Gangnam Style” signified the possibility that the end of the world was drawing nigh, as it didn’t seem possible for the world to fall into a lower place.

But that was soooo 2012…and I guess the reward for surviving both the Mayan predictions and the rise of Psy is now the video heard ’round the world: The Harlem Shake.

And when I say “round the world” – I mean this in a very literal way.

The nation of Tunisia is trying to get the (ahem) *dance* banned.

Egyptian Muslims are using it as a protest video.

Australian miners are getting fired for filming it in a deep hole where a trap bass beat just might trigger a collapse.

And some Christian schools are suspending students for uploading Harlem Shake scenes that (to them) approximate pagan worship dances, while other churches and youth groups are uniting with the worldwide frivolity like spring fever has arrived.

At the end of the day, the Harlem Shake will head the same one direction that all meaningless and merriment manufacturing memes go – into the black Friday of the internet graveyard that will be resuscitated when we watch Google’s  “Best of…” or Youtube’s “Rewind” for the year. (If you don’t agree – you can call me…maybe.)

But before that eventuality occurs, let us consider for a moment what insight we might garner from the thousands of 30 second clips that have hijacked the planet.

For example, you’ve probably noticed that the Harlem Shake knockoffs all follow the same formula:

 Begin with a mundane setting—dorm room, office, kitchen—dangerous mine (?) and one person in some sort of odd headgear starts gyrating maniacally while everyone else ignores him. Then after 15 seconds, the beat drops on “Harlem Shake” and – (viral moment) – cut to the whole room generally imitating the leader and going loco en la cabeza!

As you can see, it doesn’t really require anything sophisticated to spread across the planet like the flu – just a message of freedom to be yourself and dance like you just don’t care – right?

Now consider with me another instance long ago where something freeing spread like wildfire. It started 2000 years ago in the city of Jerusalem.

Start with a mundane setting and someone talking (not dancing) – while everyone ignores him:

Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this.  With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.  But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.

God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this!

Drop in the beat of the greatest truths in the universe:

So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”

Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

Peter said, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!”

Cut to the whole crowd trusting in Christ and starting the gospel dance that has now been viral for two millennium with two billion followers!

That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. (Acts 2:14;23-24;32;36-37;38;40-42)

I sometimes wonder how many more people would hear the gospel and trust Christ if we treated THE Cause and sharing our faith with the enthusiasm that we dedicate to viral videos.  We have a life-altering and destiny-changing message that sets people free to be who God made them to be!  When our friends and family get a hold of the truth that they no longer have to be bound by mindless religious duties and works based performance systems, their souls are set free to spread this incredible message across the planet.

C’mon friends – the Apostles started the Harlem Shake – Jerusalem style. Let’s upload their tradition and keep the dance going for eternity!

Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action

The success of the Harlem Shake is an awesome opportunity to “jump on the bandwagon” and use it as an opportunity to share something else that has spread like wildfire – the gospel.  This week, get together with friends and brainstorm about ways you could take something as popular as this video and use it for THE Cause of Christ!

Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause

Pray: Jesus, You have called us to be salt and light in this world that so desperately needs you.  Please give us wisdom in how to reach our friends with the gospel and be bold in our efforts to help people see the truth of Your love.

Read: Jeremiah 31:13. Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.

Youth Leader’s Discussion Questions:

Big Idea:

The Harlem Shake is a reminder that the human race is eager to join in something that is freeing and viral.  In the message of the gospel, we have something to share with our friends that’s even more freeing and viral.

Key Scripture:

Acts 2

ALT-ernative Questions:

  • Do you think it is wrong for a Christian to do the Harlem Shake? Why or why not?
  • How is the gospel like a viral video?
  • What are some creative ways we can use this video to help people understand His message?
  • What other ways could you apply this Soul Fuel to THE Cause?

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