I confess: the first time I saw tattoo “sleeves,” I fell to my knees and wept for their beauty—it was almost a crime, I thought, that people aren’t just born with dragons and faux Chinese characters all the way up and down their upper limbs. They imparted all the crucial modesty of wearing a shirt, without any of the mess.
I never got tattoo sleeves, of course. I always figured there were better uses of my time and money. But I definitely recommend that you get them.
If you’re wondering why, just look at this week’s photo: black shirt. Bible. Just the tiniest hint of a long, glorious, untamed mane of metal hair. And—yes—tattoo sleeves. Its message is loud and clear: “Hey, you hip, trendy youths—this isn’t your dad’s Christianity! Unless your dad’s band opened for MxPx once. . . in which case, maybe it actually is his Christianity.
“But we digress. The point is, you can be Christian while also being ‘edgy’ and ‘hip.’ And Jesus? Jesus was a REBEL, just like you! And, yeah, he’d kind of want you to submit to his authority and obey him, which sort of undermines the whole ‘rebel’ angle a little—but don’t think too hard about it. Look how cool I am with my tattoo sleeves! ROCK ON! (Do the kids still say ‘rock on’? No? Then, whatever the modern equivalent of ‘rock on’ is. ‘EDM on?’ Yeah. Just imagine we said that.)”
Man. Messages don’t get any LOUDER, CLEARER, or more IN-YOUR-FACE than that.
Of course, we all know that being on-message is vital to growing your church. Knowing nothing except Christ and him crucified may have worked for Paul of Tarsus, but in the days when there’s a church on every street corner, you have to get serious about competing. (And you don’t want to attract old people. Gross!) You want to be the Abercrombie and Fitch of churches—filled with young, beautiful people, and probably also dark and reeking of cheap cologne. Or cheap incense, or whatever.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: didn’t Abercrombie and Fitch’s stock massively crash last year? Isn’t the company basically worthless now? And of course, the answer is, well, yeah. That’s the price you pay for being trendy—you’re popular for a few years, and then everyone gets sick of you. But just as Abercrombie and Fitch managed to plaster their logo across thousands of teenagers’ torsos, a commitment to cutting-edge marketing will ensure that your church will reach thousands of teens with the gospel.
And will they stop coming to your church when your cool tattooed arms start looking old and saggy? Probably. Will they cast off Christianity altogether because you taught them it was nothing more than another cool, disposable fad? We’re not saying they won’t.
But, y’know, maybe they’ll at least wake up each day with a bunch of regrettable Jesus-themed tattoos. That’s a lasting cultural impact, right?
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