When it comes to topics of pop culture, would you say you are more well-known in your congregation for what you preach against or for what you preach for?
Years ago, when both kids and adults were crazy for Harry Potter, Hermione, and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, did you make sure those who heard you preach understood well your stance against all things witchcraft, or did they instead hear of your acknowledgment that like baby Harry, we too need a sacrificial savior?
Or with more recent headlines did you make sure your congregation understood once again where the Bible stands on sin, or did you focus instead on the Christian’s continual need to love others as Jesus loves them?
Christianity has never been about dos and don’ts; what we can watch, listen to, and read, and what we can’t; or condemning all who don’t agree with us. But too often we sneak those things into our teachings, and suddenly our faith becomes known both locally and in national media as being against this or that.
But Jesus spoke day after day during his time on earth about what “the kingdom of heaven is like,” not on what “the kingdom of heaven is not like.” As a united community of believers, followers of Christ need to focus more on what we are for.
We are for loving our neighbors as Jesus loves them, just as we see in the selfless acts of superhero and wartime movies of today. We are for fellowshipping with individuals and opening our lives up to our friends, much like we see in TV sitcoms. We are for families finding ways to struggle through life together as they did in shows like Parenthood, despite the temptations to take the easy way out and run. We are for the family as God established it, which even today is still the prevalent family dynamic in pop culture, and we want to acknowledge and support that.
When it comes to fighting pop culture from the pulpit, it’s too often going to be a losing battle. Harry Potter didn’t lose any fans, but many pastors lost bodies in their pews. The world will continue embracing the “modern family,” but less and less unchurched are likely to embrace the overly vocal pastor taking his stances. Instead, focus more on the gospel of Jesus. Isaiah 55:11 tells us that God’s Word will not return to him empty. Trust that you do not need to spend your limited time in your congregation’s ears speaking about all the things in this world you are against, but instead speak only the good news of Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to share all things to them in his timing.
Kevin Harvey is the author of two books, his most recent being All You Need to Know about the Bible in Pop Culture. He also writes at BibleInPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter under the handle @PopCultureKevin.