Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

2 May 2008

Does a spoon full of culturally relevant sugar really help the medicine go down?

This picture is of a group of mostly girls in Accra that we hung out with on Sunday nights for a "teens club" as they called it.

They all lived the in the same apartment complex and therefore had a Bible Study and Fellowship group together. I say therefore... because it is somewhat of a foregone conclusion in Ghana.

Christians meet together and get closer to God with each other. Lot's. Often. Many times a day. In many forms.

Krissy and I had been youth leaders for many years before going to Ghana and for many years after too. But Ghanaian youth ministry was very different. They were polite. They KNEW the Bible. Being a Christian was a badge they were proud to wear.

It was actually somewhat eerie at times to this jaded Canadian sarcasm dispenser. A group of 18 year old teens would sit in a circle and have sword drills and be completely enthralled by it. Honestly. We'd say, "let's pray" and they prayed! No kidding. No bribes... no culturally relevant gobbledygook con job...

I remember watching them at some distance. It made me really sad one night. Heart broken really. I remembered the youth group at the church back home. You couldn't even get kids to show up for laser tag! Afraid to tell their friends that they were going to a church on a Friday night. If we had suggested a "sword drill"... the room would have emptied.

They had became immune to the spoon full of culturally relevant sugar that we were feeding them to help the medicine go down. And that's the truth.

I understand that cultures are different. I really do. I think about culture A LOT. But the results there are categorically BETTER than the results here. I hate dressing Jesus up like a Barbie doll when the real power comes from the raw message found in the story that He handpicked for Himself. But sitting alone at a "sword drill" meeting deepens nobody's faith.

So what then? Meh... I don't really know truthfully. But Saturday night, I'm going to experience something totally new for me. It's a DJ'd Christian Dance party in downtown Toronto. This is how they describe the night:

Unlike any club, unlike any church we combine prayer, worship, spoken word and community with dance, creativity and modern styles of electronic music. Come out and join us as we gather together to seek God, free our spirits, minds and bodies. We start the night off with prayer followed by worship led by turntables, spoken word, and time to seek God.

And truthfully... I'm not a fan of this style of music. Personally. But personally, I've already chosen Jesus and that's never going to change. And I love the heart that these guys have. I couldn't care less about method Jesus is communicated as long as it's the message that He wrote.

All the dance club thing is a vehicle. A boat across the ocean. A rental car to Beulah Land. As a youth type dude I really don't care about being relevant. I care about kids growing.

I think trying to be relevant has jumped the shark (along with the word chillax. Seriously... don't say that anymore).

Being relevant or cool is so illusive. As soon as you care about it, you've missed it. Remember this? It's one of the greatest discussions about what "cool" is that I've ever seen. It's the Simpsons... philosophizing...

Homer: So I realized that being with my family is more important
than being cool.
Bart: Dad, what you just said was powerfully uncool.
Homer: You know what the song says: "It's hip to be square."
Lisa: That song is so lame.
Homer: So lame that it's... cool?
Bart and Lisa: No.
Marge: Am I cool, kids?
Bart and Lisa: No.
Marge: Good. I'm glad. And that's what makes me cool—not caring, right?
Bart and Lisa: No.
Marge: Well, how the heck do you be cool? I feel like we've tried everything here.
Homer: Wait, Marge. Maybe if you're truly cool, you don't need to
be told you're cool.
Bart: Well, sure you do.
Lisa: How else would you know?

We can get very lost trying to be cool and relevant. Lord give the me courage to believe that who you are is more than enough.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I totally hear what you're saying. Sometimes I feel like the message of Jesus gets drowned out in the "let's try to be cool while ending up becoming completely corny" culturally relevant crap that has taken over much of the church these days. I'm not saying that we have to go back to pipe organs and Gregorian chanting, but I don't think that it's necessary to hijack every latest trend that passes by and try to "Christianize" it. Otherwise you run the risk of having kids today worshipping the trend rather than who the leaders are trying to point toward.

Then again, I also have seen that many churches are realizing this and are offering a variety. They'll have big events like laser tag to get the kids into the church and part of the group, and then also have Bible studies or discipleship groups to help them grow in their faith as well...past being spoon-fed the watered-down gospel.

Just my thoughts on the matter. I like the variety idea :)

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