Monday, July 04, 2011

The Rebranding of Jesus...

Soren Kierkegaard said, “My mission is to introduce Christ into Christendom.”

That would be funny if it weren’t so true.

This quote reminds me of the time I was brought into to work with a handful of youth leaders. The purpose of our gathering was to explore what it would take for them to shift away from the ever popular Rock Star Approach to youth ministry (i.e., building their ministries on their personalities, gifts, oratory skills, coolness, and fantastic programming) to a more Jesus-like/disciplemaking way of youth ministry.

This was my opening statement at our very first session: “If you as the leader don’t make the mental, emotional, and spiritual shift from Rock Star for volunteers and students to Equipper and Mobilizer of volunteers and students, you will not be able to build a Jesus-like disciplemaking ministry.”

Immediately, one young man shot back: “I don’t think youth ministry is about equipping and mobilizing people. I think it’s all about following Jesus.”

In an attempt to point out the obvious contradiction embedded in his statement (think about it), I gently pushed back, “The Jesus of the Bible strategically invested his entire ministry in equipping and mobilizing a small cadre of people to be and make disciplemakers. So if you’re really following the Jesus of the Bible, you have to do what Jesus did—equip and mobilize disciplemakers—or you’re not following Jesus.”

That's when he went off like a bomb.

I kid you not. It got ugly. I looked around at the other youth leaders and realized I wasn't the only one surprised. Their mouths were open in dismay—and shocked embarrassment.

This young man was so hot with anger that the point leader who convened the gathering called for a break (remember—we were just getting started). At this point, I'm thinking, "If we can't agree on something as basic and factual as Jesus was a disciplemaker who equipped and mobilized disciplemakers, this is going to be a very long—or very short—meeting."

By God's grace—and after a long one-on-one with this young man, we were able to move forward when everyone reconvened. (Note: I did not change my original proposition.)

Later, on the ride home, as a reflected on this very interesting exchange that took place, it all made me wonder:

What Jesus are we following?

The American Jesus? Starbucks Jesus? Hipster Jesus? Genie Jesus? CEO Jesus? Or (fill in your favorite fake Jesus here) ________________.

Have we rebranded Jesus into an image that suits our fancies—one that we can claim to follow but doesn't really resemble the Jesus in the Bible?

It sure seems like it.

I think Kierkegaard was on to something. If we’re ever going to get back to Jesus-like disciplemaking, we must introduce the Jesus of the Bible back into Christianity.

Related Posts:
* The Disciplemaking Genius of Jesus
* Imaginary Jesus

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