I wonder, do you think that the enemy fears “nice” Christians? I myself can’t imagine him sitting in some conference room in Hell or whatever and wringing his hands in exasperation, not knowing how he will ever deal with those uber nice trendy Christians in turtlenecks.
I don’t know for sure, mind you. But I am guessing that knowledge of bands, television shows and culture combined with an edgy fashion sense and the use of occasional curse words in a sermon to drive home points probably doesn’t much concern him.
I have been looking online at some of the ministries that are out there this morning. Not the great big ones, more like the ones who are doing well but have not broken through to rock star status just yet. And I see a pattern emerging in their style, dress and public image. It’s not like it required great sleuthing abilities or anything, the fact that they have swallowed the trendy kool-aid is fairly obvious.
I went to three different church sites and the Pastors all wore checkered button-down shirts with the cuffs rolled up just a bit, I am guessing to show everyone that they were casual and relaxed dudes on a mission. Every site featured lots of graphics, usually a big picture with small words about a sermon or event. Which can be kind of cool, I guess, just not when it is every single church site.
The Pastors were all nice guys with nice hair. They looked like college boys that grew up in church and were fully committed to making Jesus as cool now as he was in their youth group from high school.
Their delivery was pretty much the same; I didn’t see a preacher at all. They were just normal guys who were sharing thoughts on Jesus, God, culture and other stuff that their people cared about.
I guess that’s the trend and some people dig it. Not me, mind you, but some people. Of course, I have never really been one to flow with the trends. In fact, I just may turn on your trend and bludgeon it to death with a big rock. It is who I am and what I have always been. Give it a name.
This is just one of those aspects of churchian culture that gets to me. Like their fascination with cheap knock-offs of original ideas, it just irks me. I despise those t-shirts that cleverly insert Jesus stuff in a famous logo and bands that perfectly mimic a famous secular bands style. Hate it.
I would rather be dangerous than nice any day of the week. Sadly, dangerous doesn’t get you conference slots because they have no clue what you will say. It doesn’t get you many speaking dates in churches because you may just skewer something that the Pastor has said or done or offend people away from something they are trying to attract people to. And it doesn’t lead to big churches because people like to be asleep, even in church.
That being said, I think we need some dangerous preachers who may not be all that nice. We need today to be shocked at our own complacency and apathy for the lost. We need someone to roar with holy annoyance at our almost total disregard for the majesty and holiness of God. We need some generals to rouse us to war, not hipsters that pass the spiritual joint.
Looking at all of these up and coming churches, I must admit that I would rather quit completely than face a future with them as the standard. I have a hard enough time with a lot of Boomers, I simply cannot deal with Samuel the one-time leader of the “cool kids at youth group” all grown up and running the show with his rolled up casual sleeves.
I am passionate about God. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude from the grave. I have a roar in me at the empty socially relevant way that they present my God. I am emotional and passionate and aggressive. I can’t stand fakes and phonies and posers, never have been able to. I guess my target demographic is rather small but I really only want to hang out with people interested in either revival or riot.
But alas, revolutionaries are few and far between today.
A few years ago, I was asked to be the keynote speaker on the opening night of a conference. There were a bunch of “prophets” from all over the world there and little old me.
After watching how they acted like prima donnas all afternoon, I pretty much left until it was my time to speak. And I preached on merchandising the anointing of God and the apathy of the church towards real injustices as they pranced and primped and posed to one another. You know, typical JC Smith stuff, right?
Well, they were all deeply offended at me. Not the people, the preachers. I was immediately anathema, a gen-u-wine pariah at the conference. Anyway, on the last day, one of the bigger names was packing up his merchandise table to leave as I walked by. He was talking to another preacher and ordering my friend about, who was helping him load his truck. My friend was an usher at the church and an incredibly humble servant and he would have never said anything about being ordered about like he was.
I am not quite as nice.
I went over to Prophet Shinyshoes and pointed at my friend and said, “You know, a real leader would wash his feet. Jesus said that those who would be the greatest among you let them be the servant of all. How is your attitude towards him being a servant exactly?”
He looked at me for a few moments and quietly said, “You’re the real deal, aren’t you?”
And to this I replied, “What, you’re not?”
I am nothing special, not by a long shot. I am just someone that came into the church from a pretty bad background thinking that I found the answer. But what I found was something totally different than what I felt God deserved. I found a business instead of a sacred space. I found motivational speakers and life coaches rather than prophets. I found selfishness instead of charity. I found petty mudslinging and character assassination among ministries. I found territorialism and not unity. And I found people who sprayed air freshener behind homeless people that came to church.
But I love the lost and the struggling and hate religion and comfy spirituality. And so I have always been a bit out of sorts really. I expected the real deal and when I saw the reality of what it had become, I started overthrowing tables.
I think we need a serious wake up call today and it is long overdue. We need less of the nice and more of the raw because someone telling you in a nice, friendly way that you are about to topple over a cliff when you are sleepwalking simply won’t cut it.
We need revival so badly right now in America. I just wonder if anyone will have the courage it will take to commit career suicide in order to jolt the people and see it happen.
I really wonder.