I grew up in a Christian home where the worship of celebrities was not allowed. In fact, I was rarely allowed to listen to “secular” music and even there was a wariness around the possibility of liking a Christian music artist too much. I did feel left out at times, like when my friends were gushing over what New Kids on the Block artist they were in love with. I wrestled with my beliefs when I went to college for music and didn’t get any of the musical references taught in class. Part of me resolved that I was called to live a different life as a Christian and that certain sacrifices were part of that. Part of me just didn’t get it.
As an adult, I see more and more of the secular culture creeping into the Christian culture. I can’t help but pause and ask, “Am I okay with this?” It just looks too similar. When I was growing up in the church, church culture looked VERY different from the non-churched. It wasn’t “cool” to be a Christian and honestly, (from the secular viewpoint) there wasn’t much that looked contemporary about the culture (it was dorky often).
So back to the question, “Am I okay with this?” What would be the healthy approach to this question? I could stamp it with “evil” and run far away. Instead I’ve decided to approached it with curiosity.
I’ve asked, “What bothered me about these changes?” I realized that what I judged had nothing to do with seeing sin, it’s that the contemporary look is too similar to secular and so it’s really a personal taste issue. What I should be doing is looking at the fruit of their platform or ministry.
With this approach, I’m finding that there is a lot of goodness out there. I also recognize that just because something is “flashy” or “looks like the world”, that doesn’t make it bad. Could it just be that we are being more creative in the church? Could it be that the church is finally catching up to secular creativity and in some cases starting to drive creativity in our culture?
So what does scripture say about following these popular Christian icons? I found this great nugget of wisdom in Hebrews:
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
These popular icons are our leaders in teaching the word of God, our examples in the way we should go in life, our Psalmists who put voice to our hearts cry and our leaders in innovation & creativity. So yes, go ahead and follow that church, read all of her books, sing their songs at the top of your lungs, pay for that concert and get the t-shirt too. We have permission to imitate a fruitful life and be a Christian Groupie.
What church, speaker, writer or music artist are you a groupie for (share in the comments below)?