For all the noise we generate about being set apart from our world and our culture, Christians (as always my posts specifically refer to most American Christians) sure do mirror the very culture they despise so much.
I mean just listen to the popular music we create – it sounds exactly like music you hear on the radio – just poorer quality and 3 years late.
Similarly, these days our Christian leaders are practically celebrities. You can download every sermon someone preaches, read every blog they post or every article they publish, follow ever tweet they make and catch up on every interview they do. You can buy their merchandise, and you can even get them to sign it if you are so fortunate to catch them live! These days pastors/preachers/teachers/whatever put out a lot of material, and you don’t have to miss a beat.
You can be a fan-boy (or girl) of a pastor, a religious groupie of sorts.
In many ways, Francis Chan was on his way to being Christianity’s next big thing. I’d say he was 2009’s most talked about new pastor – this sensation out of Cali who was bringing the heat (thankfully not the hellfire kind of heat) and laying down convicting sermons and messages, “messing up” a lot of Christians. His book “Crazy Love” was like a revolution in the church – becoming the book to read, being the latest craze ala “Blue Like Jazz” or “The Purpose Driven Life.” Everywhere you turned you hear someone blown away by this guy.
For crying out loud he was the next person to take over doing cool videos for the same company that did Rob Bell’s Noomas. He was a big deal.
I say “was,” because in April of this year he took a step back. He left the church he began and was pastoring, and has been incredibly scarce publicly. No more interviews, tweets, podcasts, blogs, sermons, and I believe almost no conference appearances. The train came to a halt.
In a video on his website, finally explaining just a wee bit about his disappearing act (that is not a marketing ploy!), he said one of the reasons is so he can take an honest look at his life and see how the fame, glory and veneration has messed with his head.
(I couldn’t embed the video, so here is a link, let me know if it doesn’t work)
I think it’s great that someone has finally admitted there is a downside to this whole thing – that we can lift up our leaders and idolize them. And I think its equally as bold for him to step down. I’m not a Francis Chan “fan,” I didn’t particularly enjoy “Crazy Love,” or think of him as the next Martin Luther as some may have, but I can admire this.
I think we can easily substitute anything or anyone for God. His vagueness, invisibility, other-worldlyness lends itself to this, and so we can latch onto something else. And in our Western culture, we grasp the wrist of whatever hot new celebrity we can. So let’s take a step back from this beast and realize our relationship is with God, not only our fancy teachers.
Are you a fanboy for anyone (I’ll admit I have been, maybe still am for one or two)? What are your thoughts on this trend? What else can we learn from Francis? (See, even in his absence we are still getting material from him!)