Harbor Mid-City

The Dogpile Effect

Photo by John Shardlow via flickr (Creative Commons)

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you.

1 Thessalonians 4:9-11

We live in a dog pile society. Everyone has an opinion on everything. Their own opinion is superior to everyone else’s. And nothing gets us talking faster than repeating or adding to someone else’s opinion.

It’s the dog pile effect. It takes a mountain, makes a molehill, then it makes Mt. Everest. All in the name of “just talking.”

As if the collateral damage was worth it?

The annoying thing about the whole dog pile method is that, at the end of the day, it’s typically over things we don’t actually care about or effect us.

And while we all join in, and get injured by, the dog pile– we do it to other people! (It’s true that hurt people, hurt people.)

National politics? Office politics? Denominational politics? Church politics? Sure, I’m up on the news but I don’t really care enough to say… hurt a friends feelings by saying his opinion is stupid.

The bottom of the dog pile hurts

Broken bones. Broken dreams. Broken lives.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a big, fancy nationally known person or the guy handing out flyers at the grocery store. When criticism mounts, when accusations fly, when things get repeated to the point that it’s assumed to be true even before you take a serious second to think… all of that adds weight to the dog pile.

Stop it

O, that we would be different! That we would seek to understand before volleying an opinion. That we would differ in opinions in a way that honored, loved even, others.

There are things in this world that are worth destroying. But one another is not one of them.


Pop Culture Christianity

Am I the only one disturbed by the latest trend that Christians are chasing pop culture & news so they can share their unsolicited opinion?

Part of my appeal in becoming part of the church was that it was an other-worldly, safe place where it didn’t matter that I wasn’t up on the latest fashion or books or news stories or TV show.

Today… Many of my evangelical friends seem to have an opinion on every pop culture item of the day. In turn, they pretend to care what my opinion is so that they can tell me their opinion which I don’t really care about.

Are we really this shallow?

The latest Kanye West song? Here’s my commentary for how to talk about it in youth groups. The Royal Wedding? We all know someone is going to turn that ceremony into a Bible study on marriage and sell it for $9.99, right? The military finally found their #1 adversary, Osama Bin Laden. Within 24 hours hundreds of Christians had written blog posts telling me how to feel about it, process it through a Christian lens, and talk to my youth group about it.

Stop the INSANITY!

I’ve never read anything from Paul that instructs pastors to have an opinion about every news item. Is this buried in your job description under “Other duties as assigned?

From a youth ministry perspective I don’t think it’s useful to introduce topics to adolescents, things that genuinely don’t matter to them, for the sake of trying to get them into a discussion, that you can then turn around and blog about, tweet about, or post on Facebook from a perspective of “My students really wanted to know what the Bible had to say about William not kissing Kate at the altar on their wedding day.

It feels like there are so many more important things to talk about.

When I hear of people who talk to their youth groups about all of these topics I think, “Don’t you have a teaching plan? Why do you deviate from it so much? Are you accountable to anyone for what you teach?

The best opinion you can have most of the time is no opinion

It’s perfectly OK to not have an opinion. No one is going to look down on you for saying, “I don’t really pay attention enough to really have an opinion. I’m really focused on loving my neighbors and serving the needs of the students in my youth group.

Instead, reject this temptation to have an opinion on every pop culture item that comes across the ticker and focus fully on the ministry Jesus has called you to.