We’ve all experienced them. Whether we have lived through various lifestyle fads, music fads, or food fads, christianity is no exception when it comes to this. However, there’s wisdom to be exercised when it comes to christian fads. All too often we either swing far to the left or to the right strongly idolizing a fad thinking “this is it!” or we become judgmental thinking “this is just stupid.” At the end of the day, there are great pros and cons we can learn from them.
“An intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object’s qualities; a craze.” – Definition of Fad
While there’s no way I could cover every christian fad that has ever took place, here’s a few of them and a way we can go about treating them.
Gospel Centered Everything
By now most of us have seen this play out in numerous ways. Everything has become Gospel centered. Discipleship, church, preaching, small groups, hospitality, mission, student ministry, kids ministry, you name it…it’s been centered.
Pros: The fact that the Gospel is being elevated and things are being centered around the message of Jesus is a great thing. This fad has brought about numerous conversations with people proclaiming that nothing can happen if it’s not rooted in the Gospel. It’s also taught people how to actually use the Gospel as the driving force behind how they live their lives. Before this, it seems that people have been confused on how the Gospel is relevant after someone comes to Christ.
Cons: The fact that the Gospel is being used for everything can be a dangerous thing. Just because we say “Gospel centered” doesn’t necessarily mean what’s being talked about is correct. You can be sure that with every fad, there are people who will take advantage of it for many reasons. I could start a book talking about “Gospel centered muffins” or “Gospel centered kittens” and that’s not going to be helpful. More importantly, a “Gospel centered” resource could come out and it has nothing to do with it. We must be on guard to not use the Gospel in a flippant manner.
Authenticity Is Legit
Just be real with one another. Don’t be afraid to share your weaknesses. In fact, the more you share how bad you are, the more “legit” you are being, which means you’re an awesome Christian. This fad really praises on the person to be as raw as possible in an attempt to be authentic.
Pros: People within the Church and outside of the Church are being more open then ever. While many people still walk around and say “I’m doing good” when in reality they are doing terrible, more and more people are abandoning that lifestyle and instead of just saying they are doing good, they actually share what they are going through. Christians are repenting after confessing their sins to God and one another and wanting to be held accountable to be more like Christ in every way.
Cons: Somehow we’ve taken this approach so far to share our weaknesses…that we only consistently share just how bad we are and feel better about ourselves for being “honest” without ever taking a serious approach to live a holy life and to repent. We’ve swung the pendulum so far that most of the conversations are just about our sins and not about our Savior. We even praise ourselves for being “legit” because we are so bad.
Church Isn’t That Important
What we are seeing today is that more and more people are leaving the Church proclaiming that they can worship God in their own way and that they connect with God on a completely new level that’s more fitting for them. They say things like, “the Church is full of sinners and hypocrites, so why make an effort to just follow some “tradition” that everyone else does.”
Pros: People are not wanting to just do the same thing week after week. They aren’t interested in a “Church” where we just listen to a few songs, hear a message, then go home and nothing about our lives are different. They are wanting to experience God through people, service, art, etc. Christians are challenging the Church to be legit and look more like what it did in Acts. Not completely like Acts because our day is different, but to not just be full of dull and boring tactics.
Cons: While people say they are “following God” or wanting a “Biblical Church”, they are letting that happen at the expense of not being a part of the Church at all, which is unbiblical. For those of us who follow Christ, we are His Church and if we go off to live in isolation to do our own thing, that’s selfish, it’s sin, and we are being disobedient. The Church is primary in so many ways to reach people, transform cities, and to expand His Kingdom. Everything will begin with God’s Church and end with His Church.
With anything, Scripture must be the authority in our lives. God uses His Church in so many ways that we’ll never know including the use of Christian fads, so before we dismiss them all together, let’s pray and seek out what the Lord would have us do through them.
Be on guard to not idolize or judge the latest Christian fad, but to take advantage of the opportunities God is giving us to reach more people and to build up His Church. There’s always going to be pros and cons to anything that comes up, so let’s look forward with hope and expectation for what God is going to do next in our future.