In part 1 of his post, Andy Rowell lamented the preoccupation his generation has for image management, and the way GenX church leaders have adopted this vice. In part 2 Andy offers a few antidotes to younger church leaders seeking a more genuine spirituality.
I think there are three dangers we need to be vigilant about. First, we need to beware of the tendency to be image-strong and content-weak. GenX ministries need to be careful about distinguishing themselves solely by their name and website. We want to convey, "This is not your average church." But we want to be better than the average church in substantial ways. In the end, it is not these three that remain: websites, jargon, and coffee. Let us teach better, worship better, and love better than the "average" church.
Second, we need to beware of our attention-getting tendencies.
Right now, Generation Xers are between the ages of 23-38. Not many of us are senior pastors, denominational leaders, authors, magazine editors, spiritual directors, or seminary professors. But we are longing to be in those positions, to make a name for ourselves, to make an impact. There is nothing wrong in itself with those desires. But we have to remind ourselves that sometimes our desire to draw people to Christ can get mixed up with our motivation to draw people to our ministry and thus get attention for ourselves. That doesn't mean we stop doing evangelism or making ourselves attractive to outsiders in every way we can. But it does mean, we keep doing our "closet work"?prayer, study, and pursuing deep relationships to keep us honest.
Third, we need to beware of a lack of transparency. My earlier description of "event preparation" almost sounds like Screwtape's advice to a younger devil learning his trade?"Deceive! Don't tell the audience your secrets. Manipulate what they experience." We may be image-conscious, but we do not want to be working for the Deceiver.
Transparency is the antidote. We must not do anything we wouldn't want exposed to the light. In fact, we should be intentional about exposing our ideas to other respected Christians for their input. And though it is tempting to fudge the truth, we need to be prepared to candidly report what we have done and what is going on. If we are doing the following sort of things, we need to be able to admit them. Use the following as practice statements:
- "We hired that guitar player for $500."
- "That projection equipment cost $30,000."
- "I worked 35 hours on that message and didn't spend a lot of time with my family because I wanted to make it good."
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