Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Does the Almighty Come in Hot Pink?

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were out driving in the Short Pump area-Ninth Circle of Hell-and we passed by one of the local McChurches. They were displaying the above graphic on banner in front of the building. The banner advertised the latest sermon series, complete with the iconic black-silhouetted, dancing figures. I could not have made this up. In fact, I wished I had. (I'd post a link to some of the sermons in the iGod series, but I've not listened to them and frankly I don't want to give this church's site any additional traffic. I am as insulted by this bullshit as I was with Velocity Church's obnoxious radio ads.)

Dare I ever attempt to know the heart and mind of God, Creator of the Universe, but despite the fact that the iPod is a rockin' little gadget and Apple has done a bang-up job marketing it, somehow I have serious doubts that God wants his followers stumping Him as the Walkman of the 21st century. Are we that sad of a nation that Christianity needs to be marketed with hip tie-ins? We can't have our religion without slapping it with a thick veneer of hipness? Or worse, does the modern American church think that it needs to peddle Christianity like a Superbowl ad? I am perplexed that churches think the teachings of Christ need to be all MySpaced out or nobody will listen.

I hear the penny wisdom from fellow Christians that the means justify the ends, that whatever it takes to fill pews, to "win souls for the Lord", is justifiable. But at some point, this interbreeding of consumerist American culture and Christianity is going to come back to bite us in the ass. Lost will be Jesus' essential core teaches about love, humility, and servanthood, replaced by a happy-slappy , Let's Make Sure Everyone Is Happy With Themselves mantra, come back next Sunday and we'll throw in a new iPod for every conversion. If you get people in the door by promising to be fun and hip, you better continue to fulfill on that promise, which means you run the risk of making entertainment the foundation of church services and sermons. More than likely, that would mean removing any elements of the Christian dogma that don't fit with Big Fun and the Feel Good Band.

I blame Joel Osteen.


Ev said...

Very interesting post, my friend...
Our Monday night Bible Study/Book Study group is reading Blue Like Jazz and we are having some great discussions about what church is/isn't and should/shouldn't be.
Could I share this? I won't associate your name if you don't want me to.

Anonymous said...

Share away, my friend. I know my opinions sometimes swing to the Mr. Grumpy side of the pendulum and there's no shame in that.

I yam what I yam.

Ev said...

Cool - I'd printed 10 copies in hopes.

Anonymous said...

Ummm, hasn't the church always sort of changed with the times to keep converts? Isn't that why they switched from Latin to English Masses, and before that, added in hymns and choirs because music made the church seem more fun?

Anonymous said...

Anon: There's a difference between a church striving to remain relevant in a modern society and pimping out its belief system with product placement.

Conducting worship in the language most familiar to most parishioners is in a different league than associating God with an mp3 player.

As for hymns and choirs, using music in religious services long pre-dates Christianity (and is also not only found in Judeo-Christian religions). Early Christians co-opted that tradition into their worship based off of customs they were already familiar with, not simply to jazz things up.

Now, looking at a few current worship services, I think you could argue the point that it has become more about entertainment than communal worship.

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