My brother has a great ear for music.
Currently he’s going to school for sound engineering and works at a sound engineering company and does the sound for his church. I’ve spent a year pestering him about what earphones I should get. He kept telling me and I kept forgetting.
I finally purchased the earphones he recommended with a gift card from Amazon that my former church graciously gave me as a going away present.
They were great. My brother didn’t steer me wrong.
Except, and you need to know this about me (and I also don’t like this about me) — I’m a poser. And I’m a sucker for great marketing.
I returned the earphones recommended by my brother. Sold a few things on Craigslist. And over the weekend, was able to purchase Beats by Dre Solo 2 headphones, paying $60 out of pocket.
What pushed me over the edge was their promo video for the World Cup 2014. (Told you, I’m a marketers dream): (I think it may have one PG13 moment in the video)
Here’s the thing about the Beats.
If they were a $100, they’d be one of the best headphones on the market. Hands down.
But they’re priced at $200. And for that type of money, there are far better headphones.
(The first hour, I had buyer’s remorse. I couldn’t believe I purchased the Beats, even if I only paid $60 out of pocket. I thought about how that money could’ve been put to better use. But my conscious was soon drowned out by the beats coming through my Beats.)
The extra $100 is purely for fashion. Style. Brand. Looks.
You’re paying more for style than for substance.
And people are lining up to pay for style over substance. Beats by Dre blew up the earphone/headphone market in ways no one thought possible. So much so that Apple bought them for 3 billion dollars.
The Beats also remind me about church and ministry because many people choose a church on style over substance.
In our desire to reaching the younger generation, the temptation to focus purely on style and forgo substance is great.
Years ago, I attended a retreat for Jr. Highers. They brought in a local youth pastor to be the main speaker for the main worship sessions (3, in all, I think).
He was a charming guy. Good at his job. Surfer. Skateboarder. Clicked with the boys instantly. One of the sermons was about feeding the 5 thousand.
He asked for two volunteers to come up and gave each of them one of those french baguette sticks and told them to go at it with one another using the bread as a sword.
Then he asked for two more volunteers and gave them a can of sardines and said whoever finishes their can first wins a prize.
He’s opener worked like a charm. He had the whole room’s attention. That’s quite a feat because jr. highers are a tough crowd.
And then he said, “Whenever you think of this story and this day, think of the bread fight and fish eating. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I know I shouldn’t be critical because who knows how God used that moment for the kids in the room. But the bread fight and stuffing sardines in your face really doesn’t have anything to do with anything. I just felt that there was more he could’ve done with them — especially the way he had everyone’s attention.
To me, he chose entertainment over teaching. That’s okay — here and there, but not for the entire weekend which was what happened.
While style is important, we can’t forgo the substance.
And it bothers me that people think church is boring (because nothing about God is boring, amen?). It also bothers me that we try to counter that by saying, “You can bring coffee into the chapel!” “Our pastor wears Ed Hardy shirts!” (note: no one should wear Ed Hardy shirts). “Come join our fight club and fight the pastor after his message! Tell him how you really felt about his sermon!”
And maybe as a Church, we tend to focus too much on style. Worship style. Sunday attire. Laser light shows for worship. Gigantic fish aquariums. Maybe we spend too much time talking about what kind of church we would like to be; what kind of church would make us popular (or in more appropriate words: bring new people) that we don’t focus on actually being a church.
I don’t know. I don’t have any answers. Unfortunately, all I have are fingers to point and nothing positive to contribute.
What I do have is a pair of shiny blue Beats by Dre Solo 2 to drown out these questions for the time being.