Resource: Considering Taking a 'Chance'?
There has always been a tension in youth ministry regarding Christian celebrity. Celebrities are people, and regardless of the maturity of their faith, they sin - often with many more cameras on them than the average individual. Further, whether it is out of a desire for role models, ‘champions of the faith’ amidst modern culture, or permission to consume that individual’s cultural products (music, film, sport, etc.), Christian culture gravitates towards celebrities - often only to find many with the very shallow faith we hope our students will avoid. Even when faith is solid (and sometimes more painfully because of it), sins and failures take a representational tone with respect to celebrities, as if their failures more than others represent the failure of Christianity itself.
That is what makes a recent article from Christianity Today about artist Chance the Rapper all the more fascinating. As with many before him, Chance’s faith has been somewhat of an enigma - not only sampling gospel tracks or thanking God on linear notes, but expressing public faith in Jesus and a desire to follow him, while also rapping about a present life not exactly matching expectations some have of sanctification (profanity, drugs, and sexual references are common). Yet seeing him desire to study Scriptures as a key aspect of a sabbatical, all the while using an important work of Scottish prayer and theology (Baillie’s A Diary of Private Prayer), is important -not as a ‘proof’ of faith (see, he ‘really is’ a Christian ‘this time’) but as an example of a real individual doing specific, historic, Christian things to further their spiritual growth. In an age where even ‘Christian celebrities’ note the best things in their spiritual development to be the discovery of meditative practices or private pastor-gurus, seeing Chance turn to Scripture and Scripturally-based, theologically-rich prayer resources is inspiring for any member of the emerging generations. Chance’s thought is evolving, yet it truly is a representation of James KA Smith’s prophetic call for the intersection of young and old ideas as well as people as the future of the church.