True or False? I Don’t Know. . . And That’s What’s Scary! . . .

During a conversation with a youth ministry friend the other day, we were lamenting the growing level of shallowness in our youth ministry and church world. The conversation – not surprisingly – included some dialogue about Thomas Bergler’s upcoming new release, The Juvenilization of American Christianity. We got talking about our (the church’s) growing concern with style over substance, our love affair with relevance, the watering-down of the Gospel, and the unintended short- and long-term consequences all this will have on our faith and our culture.

In the midst of our conversation, my friend asked, “Hey, have you seen Ed Young’s new site,” “Really. No. Are you kidding me?!?” It was one of those moments when I had to ask my friend a few times over if he was serious or if he was messing with me. He was serious. He also said he wasn’t sure if the site was serious or satirical.

Later that night, I went to Yep. It exists. It’s out there. Not only is it out there, but it’s out there. . . really out there. I can’t tell if it’s serious or not. I had a couple of friends who are familiar with Ed Young give it a look. They can’t figure out if it’s serious or not. I can’t tell if it’s brilliant or horrifying.

Here’s one of the videos posted on the site.

Pastor Fashion – Spanx from Fellowship Church on Vimeo.

So. . . what do you think? If it’s serious, shame on us. We’re in big trouble folks. And if it’s satirical, shame on us again. Why? Because it satirizes a reality many of us have seen unfolding in many corners of the church as pastors hire fashion and image consultants, as pastors have themselves made over, and as pastors/churches spend a growing amount of time cultivating style at the expense of deep substance.

Look. . . there’s not enough make-up in the world to fix me. The good news is that it’s not about me. I’ve been called to be a sign-post pointing to the King, the King’s Gospel, and the King’s Cross. If someone’s eyes land on me and they don’t move on. . . maybe I need to check myself to see if I’m the reason.

Lots of issues here to think about. What do you think?

6 thoughts on “True or False? I Don’t Know. . . And That’s What’s Scary! . . .

  1. 1 Samuel 16:7
    “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

    i understand encouraging making your appearance not harmful, BUT not with spanx.

    as a leader in the church, i would never encourage anything besides nutrition and exercise. who knows what God will say about this! encouraging outward appearance is a scary/risky deal!

  2. I had the same reaction as you: Is this a joke?! It seems a little crazy for a pastor to focus on outward appearances as much as this site seems to do. After all, aren’t we the ones who are supposed to be showing our congregation and students that what’s INSIDE is what counts—not what’s on the OUTSIDE?

  3. The ‘swagger’ video seemed pretty clearly satirical… Bu the other stuff seems like he’s parroting the parody – doing exactly what he’s poked a little fun at. Which leaves me about where you are: Is this real? I can’t tell…

    But I can’t imagine a disciple of Jesus seriously suggesting “You are what you wear.” Not to mention one who is a pastor/author/teacher/etc. If this is real, maybe that coach needs to come back and slap him around a little more…

    Besides, can we really take fashion advice from a guy in spans and a plaid vest???

  4. You used to be able to spot a preacher by the beige suit, the Christian novelty tie, and the little Bible lapel pen.

    Today, you can spot a preacher by the graphic tee, sole-patch, and hipster glasses.

    I think it’s a sign of the times. Preachers think they must strike a balance between being culturally relevant (i.e. a suit in the 50s, a graphic tee today) and Biblically modest. And unfortunately as our culture gets more and more image-oriented and celebrity-focused, preachers seem to be playing catch up.

    I think the important thing is to be honest about yourself. Make yourself presentable, but be true to who God made you. The harder you try to fit a certain style, the more it becomes about you and the less it becomes about God.

  5. It seems that youth ministry has become more about numbers and emotions rather than substance and depth. I recently went to a retreat and found myself asking, “Where are these young people being led.” It seemed the retreat was leading them to an emotional place, but did not have the spiritual depth that is going to truly catch these them when they do break down. I see many youth ministry programs today do a great job of getting young people to attend, but then they expose deep wounds and try and put a bandaid on it by saying “Jesus loves you.” When our youth today hear the words, “Jesus loves you,” their response, many times, is “prove it.” And this is where our work really begins.

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