Nearly a year ago I began to follow the moving and shaking that has been happening in the northern part of my state in a booming Christian congregation called Granger Community Church. A typical megachurch, Granger prides itself in being fully relevant to popular culture even to the extent of using Coldplay songs to headline services and basing sermons on popular movies, drawing out “spiritual themes” and applying them to the lives of Christians.
As a testimony to the belief in the method above the message, executive pastor Tim Stevens wrote a book called Pop Goes the Church: Should the Church Engage Pop Culture? to defend the church’s philosophy of taking pop culture as the driving force behind its weekly services rather than the good news of Jesus Christ.
Lacking theological basis, services at Granger lack the biblical substance, giving popular culture the center stage. Granger wrongly bases its success on the number of people in attendance, not on the strength of their belief. For the remainder of this post I will take chapter 8, titled “I’m Not a Theologian, But…” and address each of the ten points he tries to make to justify a position that the church should not only address popular culture, but completely embrace it.
In 1997, Robert Duvall “graced” the screen in a film called The Apostle in which he played a fiery Southern Baptist preacher. Even then the story of this man seemed like an anachronism. Did anyone actually preach like that any more? Who would think to speak in such a harsh way toward people and think that they will want to come back and listen to you again the next week?
There certainly continues to be those who use scare-tactics to “bring people to Christ,” but fortunately most have wised up. Or have they?
“Fire and Brimstone” preaching is best known for its scary and sinister manipulation into agreeing to a complete life makeover. The preacher’s face would get just as red as he described the fires of hell and he would shout, dance around and cry as if he were demonstrating what it would be like. Although this is why these hell-bound messages are remembered, this is really not what was so deceitful about this kind of preaching.
Superheros are not my idea of a concept for a good story. I am typically drawn to stories featuring ordinary people in extraordinary situations. However, my brother-in-law who turned me on to Lost told me that I really had to watch Heroes, and he was absolutely right. The characters are almost all too human and are dealing with strong and challenging human emotion. One glorious scene in Season 3 Episode 19 even has one of the characters, Peter Petrelli (above) prays aloud, challenging Christ himself to keep his end of a bargain to support and edify the family as they work for the good of their community.