Here is the text of my third article for the Young Adult Network:
I was nine. Like the Ghost Busters putting on their proton packs, so I was donning my school book bag. I strutted out of the door to begin my mile-long walk to school. (No, this isn’t one of those “I used to walk a million miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways” stories. I live in South Georgia. We don’t have hills or snow!)
As I walked past the high school and middle school bus stops, I could feel all eyes on me and it felt good. For the first time, I was the man. I was “fresh,” I was the “Mac daddy.” My chest filled with pride. This was going to be the best day of my life. I arrived at the school, still turning heads. I stopped at the large, glass double doors at the entrance of Crooked River Elementary. There was my reflection staring back at me as “fly” as ever. My hair was spiked up really high. I was wearing my Ed Grimly t-shirt. I had on a pair of hurricane-washed jean shorts. Then there were my shoes. This was what today was all about. My new Reebok Pump Sneakers. You know the kind. They had an orange basketball on the tongue that served as a pump to fill your shoes with a cushion of air. I felt like I was the last one to get a pair, but there I was. I took a deep breath, ready to bask in a wave of “ooh’s” and “ahh’s.” When I entered my classroom I did get a lot of looks; but they weren’t the kind of looks I’d hoped for. Within minutes, people were making fun of my out-of-date sneakers. I felt the air hiss out of them—and then my heart. What was supposed to be the greatest day of my life quickly turned out to be the worst.
That day, I let the trend define my esteem. That day, I saw the cruelty of the world. You see, the next trend had already begun (I think it may have been Air Jordan’s) and I was left behind trying to play catch up. While I wasted my energy on finding the right shoe (and whatever other trend), I was letting my soul degenerate into cynicism and sarcasm.
We do this to people in the church, sometimes, too. We have a lot of well-intentioned trends that begin in order to shake up complacency, but then the new trend becomes complacent and it’s off to a new one. In the mean time, the seeker and cynic are left in the dust. I’ve been listening to a lot of conversation about traditional, contemporary, and emerging worship. An unspoken benchmark of success in many churches now is whether or not they have a contemporary service. It doesn’t have to be a good service; it just needs to be there. But, why? Why does every youth group have to have a Taize worship service this year? The funny thing is that in all of our effort to buy into these trends, we burn out and the trend never takes. Meanwhile, both churched and unchurched souls riddle the ground—people hurt by the trend-seeking. Things like change and experimentation are not bad, but you must be sure that the why of the change is led by the Lord.
If you are looking for a church and you haven’t found the right fit or if you are in a church and you are unhappy, I invite you to seek Jesus in your discontent. It may be that your community of believers has deviated from worshipping God and has tried to fill the gap with an exciting new adventure. It may be that you have deviated from true worship and you are trying to fill the void. Only God can fill that empty space.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. “ (Hebrews 13:8) Seek the Rock of Our Salvation; don’t be blown around by the winds of each new trend. “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee; let the water and the blood, from thy wounded side which flowed, be of sin the double cure; save from wrath and make me pure.”–Augustus M. Toplady,