Thursday, December 12, 2013

#82- T-Shirt and Jeans Christianity

The majority of believers that I meet are nice, ordinary people.  That goes for the Muslims, Jews, Christians...everybody.

There is a particular type of Christian that I am focusing on for this entry.  I call these Christians the "T-shirt and jeans" Christians.

Senior Pastor Bob Coy
The t-shirt/jeans crowd is different based on what I have experienced.  These people tend to be super nice and welcoming.  I've been to a couple mega-churches and they were of the t-shirt/jeans variety.  The pastor rarely wears a suit.  They tend to promote a "come as you are" disposition when it comes to fashion and behavior.

This group of people are very interesting to me for several reasons.

 First, their hospitality is very attractive.  They are usually extremely nice AND it is genuine.  They just love to get together in and out of church to do miscellaneous activities.  They promote a good, warm family atmosphere.  That can be enticing to someone who comes from a broken home, a hostile environment, or someone who is looking to socialize.  Sometimes they have mechanisms in place to embrace and welcome new or potential members.  They are usually pretty good at receiving visitors.

The second thing that impresses me about the t-shirt/jeans group is their organization.  My experience at South Florida's "Calvary Chapel" makes it the gold standard for the t-shirt/jeans Christianity for me.

That church is massive.  Their size is made possible by excellent management and order.  The discipline, cleanliness, and hospitality that the church possess permeates the air.  They run a school along with other activities within the borders of their property.  It is like a "one-stop shop" of all things warm, fuzzy, and of course, Christian.

Finally, I like the amount of activities that these organizations tend to have through their "ministries".  The term ministry is "Christianese" for a group.  Technically these groups are supposed to go out and "minister" to people; especially non-Christians.  Most of the time, these groups just end up being groups of people who are in the same situation or demographic.

Two examples of popular ministries that can be found in many churches across different denominations are "Singles Ministries" and "Youth Ministries".  As the names imply, they are for single church members and young people of the church respectively.  The singles ministries are often supposed to be safe and fertile grounds for Christians to "pick up" other single Christians.  The singles ministries tend to be less disposed to proselytizing outside the church.  Most of the members are already Christians.  They usually sell Jesus as a mandatory pre-requisite in order to date another person in the group.  If members hook up, it is often done in a public way.  Then, they are encouraged to eventually marry.  Once the couple is married, they leave the singles ministry to another ministry.

The youth ministry has always been my favorite because I joined one at my former church.  These tend to cater to the likes and needs of young people.  Therefore, there are plenty of activities in and outside the church environment for the kids.  Most young people are not in the singles ministry but they do end up "picking up" from the members of the youth ministry.  The youth ministries are usually high in indoctrination and tend to be more proactive in passing out Jesus to non-Jesus lovers.

Other popular ministries include: the music ministry, the dancing ministry, and the ushers.

The few t-shirt/jeans churches that I've been to also tend to have high-quality media and technological gizmos working in their favor.  One church in Broward County, Florida (Potential Church) even has an app for smartphone users.  This is the kind of stuff that impress me and separates the "mom and pop" corner churches from the modern churches who "get it".

Perhaps when I was going through my de-conversion process I would have stuck around longer in one of these churches.  I'm sure that some of the bigger, more established, and sophisticated tshirt/jeans churches may  have in-house apologetic mechanisms to deal with doubt and skepticism.  At the end, I think it would have only been a matter of time before I still came out on the other side as atheist.

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