Plodding Obedience vs Rock Star Christianity

Kevin DeYoung said it far better than I will ever be able to. In his article for Ligonier Ministries he wrote:

My generation in particular is prone to radicalism without followthrough. We have dreams of changing the world, and the world should take notice accordingly. But we’ve not proved faithful in much of anything yet. We haven’t held a steady job or raised godly kids or done our time in VBS or, in some cases, even moved off the parental dole. We want global change and expect a few more dollars to the ONE campaign or Habitat for Humanity chapter to just about wrap things up. What the church and the world needs, we imagine, is for us to be another Bono — Christian, but more spiritual than religious and more into social justice than the church. As great as it is that Bono is using his fame for some noble purpose, I just don’t believe that the happy future of the church, or the world for that matter, rests on our ability to raise up a million more Bonos (as at least one author suggests). With all due respect, what’s harder: to be an idolized rock star who travels around the world touting good causes and chiding governments for their lack of foreign aid, or to be a line worker at GM with four kids and a mortgage, who tithes to his church, sings in the choir every week, serves on the school board, and supports a Christian relief agency and a few missionaries from his disposable income?

As a pastor in a young missional church I know the reality that DeYoung writes about. The popularity of “rock star Christianity” is seen everywhere. But the quest to do the profound more often than not leaves young Christians with shallow growth.

Rock Star Christianity is attractive, and I must admit my own tendency to be drawn to such a view of the Christian life. But this model of Christian living often leads Christians to an unwillingness to serve. Service doesn’t often come with a lot of glory and fame. Usually serving means being willing to do the hard or the mundane and without any recognition. The nursery worker isn’t praised for the way he changes diapers. The janitor doesn’t often get thanked for stocking urinal cakes. But serving without recognition is good for us. It reminds us that we are not Christians first and primarily for the glory we get out of it, but because we are interested in bringing glory and honor to Jesus.

Rock Star Christianity ultimately focuses on us. Like we discussed last week, there is a way of pursuing Christian living that shifts the focus from what Christ has done for us to what we have done for him. This is a dangerous place to be. We make the heart of Christianity our changing the world, or our being significant and important. Rock Star Christianity is not interested primarily in Jesus, but in Christians (and even more notably in ourselves).

Plodding obedience is, of course, not glamorous. It can often be mundane and repetitive. Consistently reading the Scriptures and spending time in prayer can be boring. We can read for days and struggle to find application for our lives. We can pray daily and struggle with feeling any passion for God. It’s also especially hard to persistently be obedient when we look around and hear constant stories about celebrity Christians who are changing the world, or making seemingly significant impacts. Plodding is the right word to use, because it does often seem like we must trudge through the activities that we dont’ really want to do. Christian living isn’t always super exciting.

But the key to faithful obedience is consistently doing the necessary things. Obedience isn’t judged first and foremost by the grand events and gestures I do for God. It’s easy to do a couple of really profound things “for God” and yet not actually love him at all. It’s much much harder to daily submit to His Word. But God is more interested in my daily obedience than in my grand gestures. As DeYoung writes, “Daily discipleship is not a new revolution each morning or an agent of global transformation every evening; it’s a long obedience in the same direction.” This is the kind of faithfulness that interest and pleases God.

I think until we are able to consistently grow as one of the members of our churches we aren’t ready to be anything more than that. Rock Star Christianity should not be our goal. A regular living that honors Jesus Christ is the right kind of goal. One goal has us at the center of it, the other puts the focus where it ultimately belongs: Jesus. The church today needs fewer people pursuing rock star faith and more people pursuing plodding obedience. It’s in the plodding that we will ultimately bring glory to God. Today, friends, make the effort to plod along.


  1. Dave, I came across this post on FaithVillage. Love your perspective on “plodding obedience”. It’s about showing up everyday, working that faith muscle and choosing to converse with our creator and read His Word.

    We all struggle with the showing up everyday… but it’s in acknowledging our desperate need for Him, for His input into our life that can drive us to turn up each and every day.

    Great post Dave.


  2. Ralph Clark says:

    Good to see you again Dave! The students we brought want to come back:D Thanks for the good words here too!


  1. […] Dunham writes an important piece entitled, “Prodding Obedience vs Rock Star Christianity,” a problem facing many churches as they try to reach younger generations. Share […]

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