To begin, that's a picture of the most popular target of "Is he or isn't he emergent?" One Mark Driscoll. And if you know anything about the man, or ever heard him speak or heard him try to rip Rob Bell to shreds, then you will know in fact that Driscoll is not emergent.
But there is a bigger issue up for a discussion. One that has literally changed the movement in 6 years flat. The issue is that of THE RELEVANT YOUTH PASTOR.
In reality within the apostolic movement means one thing: "I unapologetically wear jeans when I preach to the youth."
Ultimately it is the relevant youth pastor that brings in the latest trends of fashionable Christianity. Most of which revolves around designing really cool looking logos on adobe photoshop for the newest preaching series that youth pastor is talking on. But sometimes it also revolves around a fauxhawk, plastic bracelets, having a twitter, retweeting T.F. Tenny quotes, Toms shoes, and Rob Bell styled glasses:
But the deciding mark of how relevant your youth pastor is, is whether or not he has gone to or watched videos from from the Catalyst Conference (if you don't know what that is then you aren't relevant).
The relevant youth pastor is the testament and reminder of the cliche: "While the methods may change, the message never does."
And thus the pastor of a church which has a relevant youth pastor can proudly declare that by having such a cutting edge minister on staff who wears jeans (which is completely hardcore), he is in fact keeping up with the times. And thus not as out of touch of reality as ye suppose.
But whatever...pawn or activist, the relevant youth pastor is a sign that fake is dead. And real is here.....or in other words: "we don't like the old culture, so we will call it fake. And build our own subjective culture which in it's very core has no more of a claim towards being "real" than that culture which preceded us."
And with this, the ultimate distinction of the younger generation and their leaders (the relevant youth pastors) and the older generation is the use of a whole plethora of buzz words including but not limited to: Real. Missional. Community. Relationship. Authentic. Emerging. Emergent.
Or perhaps as one author stated:
"We don’t have a clue what we mean by authenticity (or other similar buzz word), and even if we did, we wouldn’t know how to find it. That is, the quest for authenticity is a hoax—there is no such thing. Authenticity is an exclusionist notion, defined, by what it isn’t, not by what it is, and, for the most part, so-called authentic lifestyles are just as artificial and contrived as the rest of modern culture"
But it makes us think we are changing things. And that makes us feel good. So we'll roll with it. And in the process know that we are doing the right thing because a few older pastors in the area are getting mad at us....
As a favorite line from one of my favorite songs goes:
"Oh and we carried it all so well. As if we got a new position... oh and we own all the tools ourselves without the skills to make a show,,, with oh what useless tools ourselves."
For the record, I do not have a problem whatsoever with young ministers trying to relate more to the lost and the youth by being more "relevant" to such a culture. I have many favorite ministers who, had it not been for their accessibility through the comfort I felt about them being more like "me" than like "them," I probably would not be back in church to this day. Jeans to a youth service are not a bad thing at all, but I would hypothesize they, as miniscule of significance they seem to be provide an essential outlet for youth and others to be comfortable within a church setting...
What I fear is that this desire to "relate" has been manipulated by some to carry a tone of "superiority" with it. And thus what was done in the name of "lowering oneself" to relate more to others, becomes a pedastal by others to scorn other kinds of culture that may not be as "cutting edge" as theirs.
(Note: My mention of Mark Driscoll or TF Tenney in no way infers I am not a fan of either. I enjoy an occasional driscoll message. And as for Tenney....Well, I don't think there is anything that I could say that hasn't already been said in terms of the man's ridiculous amount of wisdom and those sick one-liners he has that knock you off your feet.)
Reminder: New comment policy. See post below. Mazel Tov!