The Death of DJ AM
Changed by Christ
Main Point of Discussion:
We can’t truly help others until we have been transformed by Jesus Christ.
Vital Info Before You Get Started:
(The following should help you contextualize this important issue so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.)
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):
- You can start your discussion on this topic in a number of ways. The best way is to show this video from MTV.com about DJ AM’s inspiration to help others AND then:
- You could also read the article about Adam’s death to your family members.
- You could show them a few short video clips from MTV.com that covered the unfolding tragedy.
- You could read this summation:
Adam Goldstein, better known as DJ AM, died of an accidental drug overdose in his New York City apartment. In interviews over the years, the 36-year-old disc jockey spoke openly about his former drug addiction that lasted from childhood into his early 20s. Gone Too Far; the series aired posthumously.
Adam gained tremendous popularity as a DJ during the decade he was sober. He was part of a band named Crazy Town with a hit entitled “Butterfly.” He also played at many celebrity parties and had a weekly show at a club in Vegas. He was best friends with Travis Barker, the drummer from Blink 182, and they often palled around together. In 2008, the two of them were the only survivors of a plane that crashed during takeoff.
Adam quickly recovered from his injuries and resumed his DJing at clubs and parties. Wanting to help others who struggled with addiction, he began recording an MTV show called
Adam’s death was officially ruled an “accident” instead of a suicide.
Q: What are your thoughts about the DJ AM tragedy?
A: It’s a sad loss: A young person with tons of talent, who wanted to help others, but didn’t have his own life straightened out.
Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this tragedy?
A: It should remind us that pain, hurt, and loss know no bounds in this world—and that it’s the church’s job to bring healing, comfort, and restoration through the power and love of Christ.
Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this situation to actually living out those opinions?
A: We should, of course, pray for those suffering from addiction, do our best to help them overcome their addictions, make sure that professionals are looking after them, and always show Christ’s love and talk to them about Christ’s hope. Rather than judge them or condemn them, we should do what Jesus would do—get right down in the dirt with them and lift them up.
Where to Take It from Here:
Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful! (There’s a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged—the next time it feels right, keep engaging them.
For Deeper Discussion: (If your kids seem into diving in deeper, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)
CLICK HERE if you want to look at a quick training article on small groups and drawing questions out of young people—you may find much of the information applicable as you go through this subject with your family members.
DJ AM learned a hard lesson the hardest way of all: if you want to try and help people, you have to have received help yourself. He tried to help people with addictions, which is a noble idea. Unfortunately, he wasn’t quite over that particular hurdle in his own life. Likewise, you and I can’t offer a whole lot of help to others if we haven’t let Christ save us and change our lives first (specifically healing us of any addictions or broken areas in our lives). Of course, we are a "work in progress," and none of us are perfect the moment we accept Christ. But we definitely need to be careful and know our limitations.
Note to Parent:
Above all, don’t appear as if you have a “canned” discussion in your head and rattle off questions like a teacher giving a pop quiz—your kids get enough of that in school. This is a guide,
primarily—not a verbatim script. Just familiarize yourself with the content here and start a conversation in the most natural, unforced way you know how.
More Discussion Questions:
- HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: As we begin, let’s take a second to share our favorite band.
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Adam and close friend Travis Barker were the only survivors of a plane crash in late 2008. Do you think that qualifies as a “second chance” on life? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: When he died, DJ AM had been recording a TV show for MTV entitled Gone Too Far, intended to help addicts. Do you think DJ AM was qualified to do a TV show like this? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: Do you wonder if some Christians shouldn’t help others because they aren’t qualified? Explain.
Read the following passage:
ASK ONE FAMILY MEMBER: Why do you think the seven sons of Sceva were unsuccessful in casting the demon out of this particular man? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: it’s pretty clear that they did not really know and love Jesus. They just “knew of” Jesus and didn’t truly “know Jesus.” Maybe also they were trying to do it in their own power, and the Spirit wasn't truly working through them.)
ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Do you think there are similarities between DJ AM’s story and the seven sons of Sceva’ story? Why or why not? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: Yes. DJ AM and the seven sons of Sceva were all trying to do something they weren’t quite qualified to do. DJ AM hadn’t truly been set free from drug addiction, and the seven sons of Sceva didn’t truly have relationships with Jesus.)
ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What are some preparations/changes we need to make in our own lives so we are able to help others?
HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: What will you do this week that will allow you to be able to truly help others?
Acts 19:11-17 (NIV)
11God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.
13Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." 14Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15(One day) the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" 16Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
17When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.
Even if we didn’t know that much about DJ AM, I think we can all agree, it was deeply saddening to hear of his death. Even if we weren’t familiar with his music, it was clear that he was successful, and he should have had many more years ahead of him.
What’s really cool about DJ AM’s life and story is that he wanted to help others overcome the same kind of drug abuse and addictions he faced in life. That’s a really caring and generous thing to do.
Unfortunately, DJ AM hadn’t quite resolved his own problem before trying to tackle other people’s problems. And these weren’t small problems; they were huge problems! In the end, DJ AM wasn’t able to help others, because he had never really and truly been helped himself.
I see this in our faith walk, a lot, too. Just like the passage we read from Acts 19 tonight, a lot of Christian teenagers run around trying to help their friends with certain issues or struggles, but they have the same unresolved issues in their own life. For example, there are lots of Christian teenagers who want to help their friends break free of lust, but they have an addiction to Internet pornography themselves. Others want to help their friends or family members learn to control their tongue, but they have foul mouths, themselves. The list can go on and on.
And the truth is, we can’t help others until we let Christ totally change us and transform us. DJ AM learned that lesson the hard way. I hope you don’t have to learn the same lesson under such terrible circumstances.
This is really serious stuff. Yes, as Christians, the world needs our help. But we are not going to be able to truly help them unless we allow Jesus Christ to totally change our lives.
If you are in here tonight and you try your best to follow Jesus with your life and you want to make a difference in the lives of others, but know you still secretly struggle with something that’s holding you back, I invite you to speak with one of our adult leaders before you leave tonight. Not only can they pray with you, but they can help you overcome the struggles you have that keep you from truly helping those in your life.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R. Smith
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