Some Christians live their Christian lives like they are playing the lottery. They grab on to the next Christian fad hoping that it will result in a jackpot of Christian maturity. The things your Christian friends get excited about often indicate the objects of their spiritual attention.
Christian fads cycle in and cycle out. They fill the shelves of Christian bookstores and the Christian sections of the regular bookstores. Even big box stores like Wal-Mart jump on the fad bandwagons.
A fad starts with a book, conference, video, or a movie. Then marketers come along and decide to spin off other products and programs. Soon everybody gets way too excited about the potential of the fad to bring in another Great Awakening revival. Then the fad fades, just in time to be replaced with another one.
Before I start giving some examples, let me say that there are wonderful elements of most books or programs that have become Christian fads. If you have benefited from some of these movements in the past, I’m NOT suggesting that they are ALL bad or that you are undiscerning. In fact, it would be hard for something to become a fad unless it has some kind of Bible basis or tried to meet some kind of need in churches.
The issue is not whether or not there is some good at the core of the movement; the question is how big of a focus should it become in our Christian lives.
While some of these fads are long gone, do you remember getting excited about The Prayer of Jabez book? Then there were Jabez journals, T-Shirts, coffee mugs, and bumper stickers. I think this is especially ironic in light of how short of a mention that Jabez actually got in the Bible. Jesus gets a lot of attention in the Bible, of course, but the WWJD fad was more about buying the wristband than studying the Gospels.
Did you do the 40 Days of Purpose or did your church become a Pupose-Driven Church? Again, I’m not saying that the material in those programs was all bad (Of course not!). But how much of what you learned back then is affecting your life now? If 25 million people benefited from the book, shouldn’t America look different than it does?
What about Promise Keepers? Even a few years ago the organization was still going, but it is not nearly as big and exciting as it was in the 1990s. Men filled stadiums. Men sang and heard messages. Men made promises. And then too many men went back to normal. Now all of the big conferences are for ladies again.
How excited did you get about The Shack? Some people made it out to be the book that would change one’s entire perception of the Trinity. Maybe it did change some perceptions, but did it change them in a more biblical direction? But my bigger point is where is book today? It was everywhere yesterday!
The Left Behind series has pretty much been left behind. Although, there was that movie starring Nicholas Cage. . . but that has come and gone too. Maybe those books and movie brought back the end-times fad back, but how long did it last? How many blood moons came and went since all of that?
Duck Dynasty was a more recent Christian fad, even though the TV show wasn’t all that Christian. If you went into stores a couple of years back, there was Duck Dynasty everything. We expect secular marketers to try to get as much money as possible from such cultural hits, but Christian bookstores are more than doing their part in Christianizing the Duck Dynasty fad with Christianized spin offs.
The immediate fad of today is probably the religious themed movies. God is Not Dead 1,2, and 3 were apologetic documentaries. But many Christians still get quite excited about movies like I Can Only Imagine, Paul, Apostle of Christ and The Miracle Season. I am well aware of the discussions about the level of gospel content in each of these movies. But what will be the lasting value of any Christian movie?
People who play the lottery or gamble in other ways are trying to pay a little money and get a lot of money all at once. With just the tiniest bit of research you can learn about how much better off you are financially if you work hard and save your money. But working hard and saving money takes way too long! I want to get rich, and I want it all right now!
The same is true with the Christian life. God established regular means of Christian growth, like Bible intake, prayer, and participating in the life of a healthy church. The Holy Spirit promises to bless and empower you through the disciplined reading, thinking about, and applying the Scriptures to the regular stuff of life.
It seems hard to have to learn about the meaning of sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and books of the Bible in their contexts, and then work out applications to make wise decisions in your life. It seems like you are spending way too much time praying about so many things. Your church may not always strike your fancies, plus there are all of those sinners that seem to think they need you as much as you need them. And what about the sermons? If the pastor is really trying to be faithful, he is light on the emotional stories and actually preaches Bible-based expository sermons that require paying attention.
People want fads to be a shortcut to super-charged spiritual growth and spiritual impact on our community. God can send real revival. He has in the past and he can do it again. But revivals are extraordinary spiritual blessings on the normal means of ministry. In other words, the Holy Spirit sends extra blessings on Bible reading, prayer, and the church.
Just do a little praying and Bible reading every day and your spiritual progress will start adding up.
Don’t get too excited about fads. I’m not saying that they are all bad, or that God can’t use them, or that a movie won’t lead to a gospel conversation. All of those things wonderfully happen. I am saying, don’t put your hope and energies into spiritual get-rich-quick schemes. Instead, work hard at the means God has given all Christians everywhere to grow, change, and impact the world for Christ. Get more excited about Romans, Galatians, and Proverbs, than popular books and movies (and coffee mugs and wristbands!).