I recently heard a good sermon which used a pop song to illustrate its point. The song was Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. The point made was that at the point when you become a Christian, everything in your life doesn’t become miraculously fixed. The prosperity gospel does not miraculously take away your debts, resurrect your wife or fix your car. In the song, Bono proudly declares:
You broke the bonds
And you loosened the chains
Carried the cross
Of all my shame
all my shame
You know I believe it
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
In spite of everything, Bono is still on a journey of discovery with challenges and pitfalls. It was a very good sermon. However, for me it prompted a more important question than how we ‘sell’ the gospel. How do we engage with our modern society?
In our quest to engage with modernity we look for contemporary examples around us to connect with. We listen to modern music, we watch modern TV and we use modern web sites that we connect to through an RSS feed direct to our modern mobile phone. We use these things to teach others or provoke reaction from the Christians around us. We use them to engage with those who are on the periphery of the church about something meaningful to them. This principle is at the heart of the emerging church movement and the basis for much alternative worship.
In this quest however, we often become outdated as we strive so hard to be up to date and modern. It is said that most contemporary resources designed for youth groups are 20 years out of date when they are published. In the forties and fifties songs sounded like music hall from the 20’s. As we create modern resources we often produce things that equate to the time when we were young hip and happening. Here in the naughties we can be in danger of sounding like the 80’s. I am equally guilty of this when I pick up my guitar and play the riff from Still haven’t Found What I’m Looking For whilst singing the words to Open the Eyes of my Heart Lord.
A sermon about Bono really speaks to me. I was 7 when he strutted onto the stage of Live Aid in a ridiculous outfit and strutted his stuff shouting Sunday Bloody Sunday. I think the point made is really valid. But what resources are we creating that speak to the here and now? If we are to engage with contemporary people we need to become contemporary.