The last 25 years have been monumental for the evangelical subculture — it was a time in which we saw the explosive growth of megachurches, the prominence of the True Love Waits campaign, and the end of dc Talk.
If you were raised as an evangelical during these curious years of church history, you know what I’m talking about. And you’ll undoubtedly recognize some of these signs and think, Been there, done that, got the T-shirt — the Christian T-shirt, that is.
1. You have participated in and/or watched the performance of a “human video.” Ah, the human video — that timeless art of a pantomimed skit set to contemporary Christian music, only surpassed in peculiarity by “stick dramas.” Yes, they’re awkward to watch — and even more awkward to perform in — but you know, if only one life is changed….
2. You’ve prayed for Tim Tebow more times than you care to admit. Tim Tebow is the epitome of everything us evangelicals want in a Christian celebrity: He prays in public, paints Scripture references on his face, and he even did a Super Bowl commercial for Focus on the Family! I mean, seriously folks; don’t be ashamed — you can’t help but want to pray for this guy.
3. You know the chorus to the song “Friends Are Friends Forever” — even though it came out in 1983. Michael W. Smith’s famous song about friends may have been released over 30 years ago, but like “Come Thou Fount” and other great hymns of the faith, this song somehow has staying power with evangelicals. We sing it at funerals, graduation ceremonies, and use it as “special music” on Sunday mornings when someone is moving away. We simply can’t be reminded enough times that “a lifetime’s not too long [deep breath — don’t cry!] … to live as friends.”
4. You saw Left Behind, starring Kirk Cameron, and felt guilty for thinking it was a horrible movie. In fact, you saw all kinds of Christian movies and felt a little embarrassed by the poor writing and low production values. However, you held your nose and swallowed because, after all, somebody got converted at the end.
5. Your parents were relieved when Amy Grant returned to her roots in 2002 and did another Christian album. Back when your parents were teens, Amy Grant stole their hearts with songs like “Father’s Eyes” and “El Shaddai,” but then she got all secular back in the 1990s. For your mom and dad, this was like seeing their favorite TV preacher transition into a career of professional wrestling. Yet when Amy did her Hymns of Faith album in 2002, it was like the return of the Prodigal Christian Contemporary Singer.
6. K-LOVE killed your local Christian radio station, and you didn’t care. We almost forget that most of us once had a local Christian radio station. The cool thing about small town Christian radio stations was — um, I don’t know; let me think about that one a little longer. But the downside of those stations was endless commercials and the fact that they played the same 178 songs from the 1980s and 1990s over and over again. Then along came K-LOVE, the Wal-Mart of the Christian radio industry, and nearly gobbled up the entire Christian radio market while simultaneously providing a slightly better repertoire of songs (without commercials — sort of). Hooray!
7. You’ve been tempted to forward an email or repost something on social media to prove you’re not ashamed of Jesus. You know how it works: The target audience (evangelicals) see a little meme that reminds them of just how much Jesus has done for them and then ends with a zinger: “Please share if you love Jesus! But if you’re ashamed of Him, you can go ahead and ignore this!” (FYI: Don’t worry. Jesus forgives you if you doubted His love and reposted one of those lame memes.)
I know it’s tempting to read a post like this and feel like I’m dabbling in the sacrilegious, but that’s probably just our idolatry of the evangelical subculture talking. There’s a lot to love about evangelicals — especially when you think about the many ways evangelicals demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit to the oftentimes thankless world around them. But sometimes, one of the most humble things we can do is have a laugh at ourselves. And if you agree and you love Jesus, share this post on social media (kidding!).