Remember the popular book The Prayer of Jabez? How many people still pray that prayer and perform the ritual? Churches all over America were preaching sermon series’ on it, teaching classes and it sold a lot of books, including the study guides, small group guides and other products marketed from it.
How many of you still wear your WWJD? bracelets? How about the t-shirts that take existing products and change their logo to something Christian? (Subway becomes “Gods Way” and Abercrombie & Fitch becomes “A loaf of bread & fish”) Do you still hand out “Testa-mints?”
Donald Miller shares a story in his book Searching For God Knows What about meeting women at a Christian writers seminar. One woman’s idea was a devotional you could read while drinking tea. Another woman was writing one for coffee drinkers. The third woman was also writing a devotional: “for girls who were taking ballet classes.” You might think he’s making that up for humor, but visit any Christian bookstore and see for yourself. They’ve got devotionals and Bibles for all sorts of people: dog lovers, cat lovers, musicians, business professionals, the mother/daughter devotional, sports fans and soccer moms. There are different devotionals for the morning, and those to read in the evening (they help you by putting pictures of the sunrise, or a starry night so you know the difference).
Trends come and go, but their impact often fades quickly. If you think back on your spiritual life, what has truly shaped your faith and inspired you?
For me, it’s been pastors/mentors and discipleship through genuine community, solid teaching, and the examples of other believers. That’s not to say we shouldn’t find new and interesting ways to package the message. There have been sermons, particular stories or illustrations, books, articles, performances of a song, or dramatic skits that have highlighted the message and had great impact on me. I love the creative arts, so that always speaks volumes to me. However, all of it is supplemental to the Gospel, the message of the cross, the foundation of what Christ did for us. The influence of a solid believer speaking into your life and being a walking example does a lot more than any performance or illustration. The influence of a trend will only last for so long.