Christians

The Great Wave of Anti-Christian Sentiment (from Christians)

Concerning popular Christian culture, there is no doubt we are currently living in The Great Backlash. It is a time where the cool and hip Christians critique and complain about the pitfalls of Christian faith. We have fun new tools like blogging and Twitter to give us a voice we never had inside the church. In addition, we have also discovered millions who feel the same way we do.

And can you blame us?

The late 20th Century witnessed the rise of mega churches and pastor celebrities, Christian apparel, alternative approved entertainment industries (including best-selling worship albums) and the WWJD movement. In short, the Christian culture created a bubble just large enough to coalesce American consumerism into the teachings of Jesus, the church, and the Bible.

As we aged, we began to think for ourselves. We started asking questions. We wondered if we weren’t Christians, but were, instead, just another market segment. We started wondering about others, the non-us’ we loved to condemn and pray for.

In, “When We Were On Fire,” Addie Zierman writes, (more…)

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I Hate Critical Christians (and Their Skinny Jeans, Too!)

It’s best to come to terms with who you are. I’m a critical sonuvagun by nature. In the blogosphere my kind are welcome, for sure, but on Sunday, in church, it’s different. Recently, I read through Hebrews, and in Chapter 12 the writer (somewhat) says, “Pay no attention to that critical guy, stirring up trouble. He’s just a bully with a blog.” Awkward, right?

So, fellow critical Christianers, what do we do? Show up, shut up, sit down? Maybe.

SIDE NOTE: If the pastor shortened his or her sermon, then the church could afford interactive Q&A from the congregation afterwards.

The older I get, and the more I read the Bible, the more I consider the mainstream’s misinterpretation and misapplication of verses—like the one from Hebrews 12—that suggest I shouldn’t speak my mind, or be who I am, in the church (like, say, a critical, tight-jeans-wearin’ hipster).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/conorkeller/4998467337/

This isn’t me, be tee dubs.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/conorkeller/4998467337/

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The ‘Freshly Pressed’ Fallout

Most WordPress writers hope to be Freshly Pressed someday. Back in June, when my post “Confessions of a Former Worship Leader” was chosen and featured, I danced a jig and nearly sprained my ankle. It was great, and now I bear the mark.

But don’t let those pesky WordPress editors fool you. It isn’t all daisies and sunshine. There’s fallout, baby. Aftermath. Radiation with no radioactive suit. I grew an extra eyeball on my elbow. True story.

Here’s what happened to me:

The Freshly Pressed Post-Press-Process 

Euphoria (I’m the best blogger ever!)

Addiction (It just feels so good…)

Depression (My stats are going down… )

Desperation (Just give me one more hit…)

Replication (I must recapture my former glory!)

While enduring this terrible Post-Press-Process, I trapped myself in a rabbit cage called Christian Today and labeled my name tag as the “Go-to church-criticism guy.”

(Just one more hit…)

See, there’s this inherent blogosphere rule that says the better you focus your blog towards capturing one audience, the faster your readership grows. After having a taste of sweet, sweet mass readership, I was hooked. Crystal Blue Persuasion had me, and I was damn well sure I’d corner the Christian blogger market any day with my product.

History is so Passé 

Before FP (because initials are cool), I was an average blogger, and I wrote whatever I wanted. Sure, I didn’t have a solid focus or steady readership but that was alright. I just wanted to write and get better at it. Sometimes, I wrote about being a Christian; other times, I wrote about Mexican food or getting my butt stuck in a car seat.

“Confessions…” was different. It was the most honest thing I’d ever written; my heart was entirely in it. I spent a year formulating drafts in my head, searching for the right words, finding ways to elucidate my complicated and awkward spiritual journey. It meant a lot to me to get it right. After a week or two of editing the actual draft, it finally worked. I clicked “Publish” (the button was heavier than normal that day).

What I’m getting at is that “Confessions” wasn’t normal nor was it ever meant to be a flagship. It was just a process that gave me healing, what I needed at the time. I hoped for it to resonate with one or two others.

But when “Confessions..” hit, everything changed. I was no longer just another average, over-churched burn-out. I was a Freshly Pressed over-churched burn-out! (Big difference okay).

I was given an audience who redefined my writing identity. I became one of those dumb cool-young-hip Christian bloggers.

First World-Blogger Problems

After the traffic died down and I was left with my wonderfully old (and new) subscribers, I noticed interesting stat patterns. The blogs I wrote about life, travel, and every-day-faith earned me decent traffic (better than before but not the consistency I was hoping for). The blogs I wrote about church-criticism nearly always doubled my traffic.

So as any red-blooded blogger would, I (fracked for crack) wrote more and more about the church even when it didn’t feel natural. Oddly enough, when the impulse was sincere, I usually talked myself out of it in favor of trying to “Grow.”

It’s like being stuck in some sort of.. Post-Pressed-Pressure…

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The awkward “Post-Pressed-Pressure-Pose”

My first thought: “Hey, maybe I should focus all my energies on church reform. People obviously want to hear what I have to say. And I do have more to say!”

My second thought: “Didn’t I leave the church?”

Then, after a root beer, my third thought: “Does this mean I have to join a church to stay current for my audience?”

Then, after a slice of pizza and an hour of Netflix, my fourth thought: “If I don’t write about the church then am I shooting my writing career in the foot?”

My fifth thought: Who do I write for, my audience or me?

Kevin’s Final Thought on Friday Show: Is this how one-hit wonders feel? “I want to play the new stuff.” But they like the old stuff. Give ‘em the old stuff. Old stuff or die. 

Old stuff or die.

Old stuff and die.

Epilogue/Backsliding

Christian-blogger is a stupid term. I think so, any way. C.S. Lewis wrote in an essay about how people shouldn’t look for labels to promote their faith, or book, or ideology, that what people cling to are the natural outputs. I’ve always felt that there’s nothing sincere about labels and agendas. It’s why American evangelism sucks. Instead of reaching out to serve and be sincere, we seek others only when philosophy conversion is possible or at least part of the conversation (as if people aren’t worth our time otherwise).

This is where I find myself today, with a reminder for you (but mostly for me): Be sincere, good people. Be sincere.