Monday, March 29, 2010

    CULTURE WATCH: A Jonas Brothers Easter

    Saddleback (mega) Church will be celebrating Easter this year with special guests...The Jonas Brothers!

    Apparently the celebs offered to play for free.  Is this a bold move to attract folks to church...or another example of confusing pop culture with authentic faith?  What are the chances that there will be lots of preteens there on Sunday morning more focused on getting a glimpse of a Jonas brother than a chance to understand more deeply the symbolism of resurrection and new life in Christ?  Is this any different than the tired old method of using pizza and paintball to try to draw teens into a youth ministry and then sneaking in a little Bible study when they aren't paying attention?  What do you think?


    Anonymous said...

    I think it will draw thousands of teens and mostly preteens who are way more interested in the Jonas Brothers than in Jesus... and I think that is amazing. In the midst of them show up for a "show" Saddleback gets to share Christ. preteens and parents and older brothers and sisters who hate the Jonas brothers will be dragged to Easter Services for a show and will hopefully encounter Christ. By all means necessary right???

    Brian said...

    Matt, you may be exactly right...or a bunch of teens may show up to see the Jonas brothers and not give a rip about whatever else that guy with the goatee up on stage is talking about. It's the old question of whether our methods confuse/dilute/get in the way of the message. Sometimes you don't know until you try, I suppose.

    Anonymous said...

    Also depends on what the Jonas Brothers do. I don't know much about them except what I see on tv. Are they Christians? If so will they talk about their faith? To me it has the potential to be like a Christian concert. The music can be wonderful and uplifting but the part I remember is when the music stops and a member of the band shares his/her testimony about their connection with God. If the Jonas brothers are Christians and share their faith genuinely then it has the potential to be powerful. If they are not and are just there to sing then it is a nice gesture on thier part but not too meaningful.

    Brian said...

    David, they were raised Christian -- their dad was a pastor. Don't know what their status is today but I would assume they are part of the faith or Saddleback wouldn't have invited them.

    KaGe said...

    I don't think the concert's a bad thing, unless there's no follow-up. Which from what I know from Saddleback, there's going to be follow-up by volunteers and others from the church. So I'm not too opposed to this. I think it's a far cry from the huge, massive, "revivals" of the past that were massive emotion cauldrons set up to save thousands in the span of a 45 minute set list.

    And who says Jesus wouldn't play paintball? :)

    Joshua M Walters said...

    Matt is right. It will draw tons of people - tons of people not interested in the resurrection of Jesus. How will Rick Warren respond when some pre-teens want the Jonas Bros to sign their Bible?

    David is also right. It certainly depends on what the Jonas Brothers do. What WILL they do???

    As far as I'm concerned I think it sucks. Is Resurrection Sunday a day to have a concert??? And a celebrity concert at that? What are saying? "If you thought God raising the dead was awesome... check out what WE'VE got!"

    Smells like syncretistic, misguided (yet well-intended I'm sure) marketing strategy. I don't like it one bit.

    Check out the site:

    It really makes me feel gross. Selling tickets to a celebration that honors God's inclusive act of love and redemption of humankind?

    This is not paintball. It's a serious cultural problem that church's all over the USA are struggling with.

    Rob Rose said...

    Saddleback has always been clear: Sunday morning is for seekers. So, this is consistent with that philosophy. If they do it right, I think it can have great impact for the Kingdom. If not, it can lead to a bunch of misguided and confused fans.

    I'm glad someone has the guts to try, though.

    Brian said...

    Thanks all for posting your thoughts. I think I still lean a little more toward Joshua's point of view -- you can have great music on Easter morning but maybe it's not the best day to have celebrities offering it.

    KaGe - regarding paintball: I have no idea what Jesus would do, but since I understand Christianity to be, at its core, a pacifist/peace movement, I've always resisted having my youth groups engage in activities that even simulate violence -- and paint ball isn't even simulated since you are shooting guns at each other. I know such activities attract youth, much like the Jonas Bros., but I'm not sure that is always the point. Just my two cents.

    Anonymous said...

    "but since I understand Christianity to be, at its core, a pacifist/peace movement,"

    Actually at it's core it's about redeeming sinners and seeing them be ushered into a right relationship with Christ.

    Was Jesus a pacifist?

    Brian said...

    Chris, I would assert that Christianity is, at it's core, many things and yes, at its inception at least, those who were followers of the way of Jesus were pacifists.

    Joshua M Walters said...

    Once again I think everyone's input is good and right.
    However, we've got to tease out the deeper implications of what Saddleback is doing on Easter Sunday and think seriously about the potential of these kinds of ministerial decisions.

    Rob is right that this COULD have a great impact for the kingdom of God. Rob is also right that it MIGHT NOT! The question is: What do you THINK is going to happen!? Rob, we cannot any longer say "I'm glad someone has the guts to try" because these ministerial moves have a huge impact. We must consider them more seriously before carrying them out (not "we" since we're not @ Saddleback, but you know what I mean).

    My opinion: not good. Why? Because a "seeker" stunt like this is not rich with potential. I say this for a couple of reasons:

    1) Humans are created for GOD. Think about how deep and meaningful are hunger is. Think about how hungry a "seeker" is for something rich and eternal. I don't see the Jonas Bros. having the potential to tap into that need (it COULD happen though, but is it likely?).

    2) If then you say that it's just to "get the seeker there on Sunday" (in order to hear Rick's message or something) then what kind of seeker are you going to get? One that is interested in Jonas Brothers (which is most likely a seeker who thinks a man raising from the dead is weird and unbelievable).

    Other issues:

    3) What about the growing disciples at Saddleback? Will an event like this fish for seekers at their expense?

    4) What if Saddleback put as much energy into simply advertising that Jesus is Lord and God has raised him from the dead!? I guess that would make them (and us Christians) look crazy, but it might ironically get more attention than the Jonas Brothers. The bottom line is that God has done the most unique, awesome, unrepeatable act in the Resurrection and THAT is what should be preached on Easter Sunday. Nobody, not even Michael Jackson, can top that.

    5) If something good for the kingdom does occur it will most likely be making babies. That is, these seeker churches love to make babies at the expense of growing mature disciples. KaGe may be right that Saddleback will follow up well. But my fear is that these models for ministry make a lot of babies. If Saddleback gets new members this Easter, how will they feel about another extreme, "seeker-sensitive" stunt next Easter? Will be as meaningful? Or will they just become another tool in the means for getting more people?

    I just don't like this notion that seeker church's should have the guts to try stunts like this because it KILLS the church's credibility with millions of other seekers who laugh at this kind of thing and write off the Christian church as another "religion" trying to get butts in the pews and dimes in the offering plate. This is another example of why tons of my friends think Christianity is another market-religion instead of the completely new reality based on God's work in Christ.

    We need to go deeper in our ministry. And we need to trust that the seekers want to go deeper.

    Also: Sounds like we need a whole other post on Christ's non-violent example and the "deeper magic" of love and compassion :)

    Barry K said...

    Why are the Jonas Bros necessary? It's the meaning of that observation not enough that I have to provide distraction or slight of hand diversions to get people's interest? What's the message here, even if the boys do mention something about their faith? "Hey, we're the Jonas Bros and we know you LOVE us more than anything. Well, we love Jesus, so you should love him, too." What sort of priority does that set? And isn't this really about attracting huge numbers of people to that church on Easter? Why is it even a numbers game?

    Brian said...

    Regarding the non-violence of Jesus:

    Tim said...

    Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
    For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
    1 John 2:15-16

    When is the Modern Church gonna get back to the Word of God?????

    Anonymous said...

    I think that this is a good idea, yea half of the preteen population will not care at all for the message being delivered but if there is a small chance the other half will listen and even recieve christ then take the chance right? The Jonas Brothers are good role models, they are raised christans, have been going to church in between tours and interviews, and even when they are contradicted they continue to believe in there religion. I think once kids see them in the spirtiual enviroment they will begin to wonder about the religion and thats when they will start looking into,it going to studies and trying to understand. Who knows mabey they will go into a hillsong ballad or maybe a little casting crowns.

    Gail said...

    Now if the Jonas bros. were linked to songs that preached hate or misogyny, I would not want them at my church. I don't see great harm coming from this. I don't see great spiritual growth coming from this.
    But no one has ever accused me of being against syncretism.

    Joshua M Walters said...

    Anybody follow up on this? Here's a quick news story that tells what the Jonas Bros. played:

    I think it's pretty telling that the Jonas played three songs that have NOTHING to do with Easter.

    Awesome work, pastor Warren. Hope you got some ca$h for your campus.

    Brian said...

    Thanks for the update. I think that is pretty interesting that they sang secular songs (and if you look at the lyrics at least one just appears to be a romantic love song.) Frankly, I assumed they'd have the guys singing hymns or some contemporary Christian stuff. Letting them just sing secular songs from their regular reportoire reinforces the notion that they were just there to draw the Jonas Brothers audience.

    Joshua Griffin said...

    Interesting discussion! JG

    Brian said...

    Joshua, welcome to the discussion. It'd be helpful to hear more from you about how you felt the event went for the church.

    Stuart said...

    It's just the typical "bait and switch" evangelism that we've grown so fond of.

    But it would have be sweet if they would have crucified the three brothers, while Warren preaches Saddleback's greatness. It would be good easter imagery and it would spare the rest of us any more bad music (sheesh we've already got Miley and Bieber to deal with).