I always try to pay attention to what’s happening in popular culture.
Rhythms and reviews tend to either drive the thoughts and feelings of a generation, or at least reflect it. Although not comprehensive, it still helps to understand the zeitgeist.
A few months ago, DC Entertainment released the film “Suicide Squad”. The soundtrack was released a few weeks in advance, with the lead release being the song “Heathens” by Twenty One Pilots. Here’s the chorus:
All my friends are heathens, take it slow.
Wait for them to ask you who you know.
Please don’t make any sudden moves.
You don’t know the half of the abuse.
Songwriter and lead singer Tyler Joseph said he wanted the song to be a Twenty One Pilots song and that he wanted something that would resonate with their fans. But as the lyrics came together, he said it just “made sense”. The lyrics continue:
We don’t deal with outsiders very well.
They say newcomers have a certain smell.
You have trust issues, not to mention.
They say they can smell your intentions.
This is the song for the new era of relational evangelism.
As those words came pouring out of my car speakers, I reflected on the faces and communities where I’ve been invited in. Places where this kind of warning was less articulated, more nuanced, but the same. Where an invitation was extended by one person who was curious, trying, hopeful, but gave the clear warning, “Take it slow.”
The secular community is simply not that different than the Christian community.
Issues of trust, authentic community, and vulnerability are all present and accounted for. The same yearnings that the church is moving towards is the cry of the human heart. And yet we can be very guilty of coming in neighborhoods, community groups, and circles with the same broad assumptions, misguided intentions, and attitude of superiority that we are now lamenting in our church communities. What happens when we approach a watching world with the same posture?
When invited by those who are still searching, we must be mindful that their communities have seen people like us before.
They have mindsets and preconceived notions based on their experiences. And when we come in with a posture of listening and not being prescriptive, good things can happen….SLOWLY. But good things can happen. Good things ARE happening. When we come in with an agenda, not knowing the “freakshow sitting next to you”, and not wanting to, we quickly lose ground in what can be a gracious ground for authenticity that can open doors for spiritual conversation. This generation has given us a roadmap. May we be mindful that as we are invited, we don’t rush in an attempt to “just finish”.