TV Sitcoms, Rock Anthems, & The Gospel

Yesterday’s message that launched The Office series was called “Taking Care Of Business.”

So naturally, our band opened up the worship time with a cover of the Bachman Turner Overdrive song straight out of 1973. It’s a rock anthem with real staying power, and it was pretty remarkable to see all the people (even at 8:30!) sing along with it.

Then the message itself featured a clip from The Office, an often cringe-worthy sitcom that has something of a cult following.

Why would we use pop culture in that way during a worship service? Isn’t that somehow compromising the gospel?

We don’t believe so.

Instead, here’s what we try to do: leverage the language of the culture that surrounds us to teach counter-cultural truths.

As we speak cultural language, people are better primed to hear what we have to say. And what we have to say is decidedly counter-cultural. Meaning, it’s gospel. For example, yesterday’s thrust was that we are not made to work; we are instead made to work. Work is not a punishment; it’s instead a central part of what it means to be made in the image of God. It’s stamped into our DNA by the creator of that DNA.

That’s not a conclusion either Bachman Turner Overdrive or The Office will reach.

The whole strategy is analagous to foreign missions. We would never send a missionary to, say, Russia without first teaching them the Russian alphabet and language. You can’t minister to Russian people without speaking their native tongue.

21st Century America is a mission field as well. So we try to learn the language people are speaking, whether it’s irreverent television comedies or enduring rock anthems.

All so that we can leverage cultural language to teach counter-cultural truths.

And that’s why we do what we do.

You can listen to the message here.