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Why We Should Be Careful Following Trends

A word needs to be said to pastors, writers, artists and other leaders who jump on the bandwagon of “Christian cultural trends.” I’ve seen it most of my life, and I can tell you it doesn’t help in the court of public witness. I remember in the late ’60s when we got on the “Late Great Planet Earth” trend. The incredible success of that book was followed by a long (I mean really long) line of prophecy copycats, few of which offered anything unique and different. Since that time we’ve had the HUGE trends of gimmicky sermons on sex and marriage, including the sexy marriage retreat phase, the prosperity gospel, the church-bashing trend, the political trend, the boycott businesses that don’t say “Merry Christmas” period and more. (Remember all the Christian “prophetic” warnings about Y2K?)

Especially in the Charismatic world, we’re besieged on a regular basis by hysterical “prophetic” announcements about the future of mankind, God’s judgment or the end of the world. The current rage is the “Blood Moons.” Check Amazon.com and you’ll find at least six pages offering Christian books on the “Blood Moons.”

For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts on why trends don’t help:

1) In many cases, the original book or message that launches a trend is actually valid. Not every time, but there have been moments when someone needed to share a new look at Bible prophecy, why Christian marriages should include a good sex life, God’s promises of blessing or why Christians need to be active, voting citizens. Great. So let’s leave it at that.

2) But once those books or messages became popular, everybody thinks they have something to add—or worse, think they can benefit from getting on the bandwagon. Good rule: Unless you’re an expert in a particular area, don’t assume you should write a book about a subject that’s trending. We want something new and insightful, not more of the same old drivel. The problem is, most copycats are looking at it as a financial opportunity, not an opportunity to share new insight.

3) The stream of copycats doesn’t help set us apart from the surrounding culture. While we’re clamoring for more books on “Blood Moons,” the world is desperate for more on Bruce Jenner’s gender change, or the latest celebrity divorce. Different subjects, but same disease. It’s all about a marketing mindset, not a vibrant intellectual or spiritual pursuit.

4) Finally, leaders need to plow new ground, not dig up well-worn fields. Paul said in Romans 15:20, “I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation.” Paul wasn’t interested in riding on anyone’s coattails, he was too busy sharing his message with people who hadn’t heard.

The world isn’t looking for more copies of someone else’s message or another trendy re-run. They’re looking for your unique voice to share the greatest message of all time. And for what it’s worth, I believe you should share it in a way only you can share it.

Now, whether or not you agree with this post, can we at least agree that enough books have been written about the blood moons?