How Far Can You Go To Still Consider It Distinctly Christian

Recently, the lines have been blurred between relevance and reverence. It is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between what is distinctly Christian content and what is not.

The reason for this is because every side is positioning themselves as doing what they do in Jesus’ name and for the proliferation of Jesus’ fame. Both the relevant and the reverent tribes have a sleuth of Scripture verses ready to tweet out in defense of their preferred method of operation.

Because I am personally still searching out my own heart and my own position regarding various open-handed (negotiable) methodologies, this post will have more questions than answers. My ultimate goal in writing this is to stimulate a rigorous discussion surrounding this topic.

I personally invite you to join the discussion and add your voice to the conversation. You can do so in the comment section below or connect with this post on Facebook.

I have observed two tribes in contemporary Christendom:

The Relevant and the Reverent.

The relevant tribe: On the one hand, you have youth pastors who host a large youth conference. The attendees are then dragged on stage in front of a large crowd. They then proceed to dunk their heads into a bucket full of dead fish heads. The challenge is to clench the dead fish head with your teeth, lift your head out of the bucket and enthusiastically lodge the item into the audience. The person who is able to make their fish fly further is declared the winner. This is all done in the name of Jesus and positioned to render glory to Jesus.

The reverent tribe: On the other hand, you have a youth event that is held in a bare building with no noticeable décor. There are somber songs being sung and a sermon preached. The guy speaking appears noticeably anti-relevant. There is not a shred of evidence from him, either externally or internally that he is trying to fit in, appear relevant or possess any cultural savvy. During the talk, the person speaking makes a few off the cuff remarks about how the world has crept into the church and how the influence of the world has influenced those who are supposed to be not of this world. The lackluster décor, the somber silence of the auditorium and the blatant defamation of those who are deemed less spiritual is also done in the name of Jesus and is positioned as rendering glory to Jesus.

The above two are extreme examples from opposite ends of the spectrum. However, they are not implausible and do not fall far from reality. Both of these camps or tribes – the relevant’s and the reverent’s can’t both be right in their approach? Or can they?

  • Both of them declare to be Christ centered, Jesus-exalting, God-fearing, bible believing, missional Christians.
  • Both of these camps include leaders that love Jesus.
  • Both of these groups include leaders who are obsessed with Christ and His gospel.
  • Both of these groups find a deep seated joy and satisfaction in seeing people come to Christ and live out a life well lived, for the glory of God and for the joy of people.

Here are some of the questions I want to ask:

  1. Are both of these approaches ok?
  2. What should be changed?
  3. What should stay the same?
  4. What are distinct characteristics that must be present in any ministry, among any people who declare that Jesus is their Lord?
  5. What are the non-negotiable items in methodology that absolutely must be in place in order for the declaration of Jesus centrality to be not a mere cordiality but an actual reality?

As you are thinking about these questions, please watch the video below. It is relevantly dubbed “Godz Bodz.”

[tentblogger-youtube BQr56sZw6-s]

This video was shown to over 13,000 leaders of churches, organizations and businesses. As far as I understand, this event is positioned as a Christ-centered, gospel-exalting, Jesus-loving event. More specifically, here is what the site says it exists for:

To ignite passion for Christ and develop the leadership potential of the next generation, equipping them to engage and impact their world.

This is the distinct position from which they function.

Here are some short observation about the clip:

  • There are at least three instances in which an innuendo is being either explicitly portrayed or alluded to.
  • The mutual understanding of the existence of this innuendo is apparent by the actor’s reaction.
  • There seems to be a humorous overtone regarding group prayer and how worship leaders stereotypically approach the throne of God, in prayer, with their group.

Other than that, I get all of the off the cuff, stereotypical remarks regarding the treatment of the gender that normally does not preach and the other Christianese that is worked into the video. Based on some of the comments, this video has garnered a fair share of praise and accolades. All in all, it is a video that pokes fun at the church and people within the church.

Some of you reading this might jump immediately to Rom. 14:12-16; 1 Cor. 1:19-23; Php. 1:18 because you think this video should go viral.

Others of you who think less highly of this short flick will be quick to go to places like Ps. 19:14; Rom. 15:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:11-12; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 4:29.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not out to critique anyone or anything. I have actually never been to this conference. In fact, from the promotional videos, it looks absolutely epic. I would love to go one of these days. I heard they are coming to the OC next year! I would love to go with my team so that we could sit under the solid and passionate preaching of the word of God. It would be an amazing experience.

I am simply calling attention to these matters because I would like you as the discerning Christian Jesus lover to weigh in and answer one simple question (and a few subcategories of questions):

 How Far Can You Go To Still Consider It Distinctly Christian Content?

  • Is there a place for crude innuendo in our video content that we provide to upwards of 13,000 leaders?
  • Is it ok to poke fun at and make sport of how people pray and the whole concept of prayer?
  • Do we as Christians take ourselves way too seriously and we just need to lighten up a bit?
  • Have some Christians taken all the fun out of fundamental?
  • Have some Christians become so conservative and close minded that they simply do not know how to be relevant?
  • Should we declare a deliberate anathema upon people who create such videos?
  • Are we constantly accused of by others of purposely pulling a Jesus-juke?
  • What kind of space is there in the Christian environment for humor to take place?
  • How far is too far?
  • What constitutes a line being crossed?
  • What can you say or put out for it to still be considered Christian content?
  • What are the distinguishing characteristics of content in the purest sense of the word Christian?

Please participate in this conversation. I believe that we can learn a lot from each other as we sharpen and strengthen one another in the discussion.

Please comment below this post or head over to Facebook and do the same.

My fervent prayer is for this discussion to position us in a way in which we would be more influential than ever for Christ’s sake and for the fame of Jesus’ name.



4 responses to “How Far Can You Go To Still Consider It Distinctly Christian”

  1. I thought the video was pretty funny. Its ok to be able to poke fun at yourself occasionally.

    1. Andre — yes I see where you are coming from — and I agree with you completely that we should poke fun at our self — and be aware that we do not take our self too seriously — I believe this is the mindset from which the creators of the video were coming from —

  2. And the sexual innuendos might be too much for people whose churches never speak of sex, because its bad or whatever. So I wouldn’t even try to convince somebody from a more sheltered background that this video is ok, because it is simply way too offensive for them. Same thing for the other side – there is no use in trying to convince somebody that they’ve been wrong all along.

  3. I was active in youth ministry for over 20 years. I was always aware of the need to be relevant, but I resisted the urging of some to lower the bar, so to speak, to the lowest common denominator. As we all should know, youth come in all manner of spiritual, emotional and physical maturity. With that in mind, using something that drips with sexual innuendo is just asking for trouble. The point, I believe, is balance between the two extremes given. In the end, what really matters most is the modeling of the Christ-like behaviors, actions and attitudes of the youth leader. They really do read you more than they read their bibles. If you are just a clown like figure, well, they think it’s always fun and games. If you are dry as plain toast, well they just think Christianity is boring. Neither is accurate in the real world. Balance, balance, balance.

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