I will never forget the exciting news that George Lucas would be coming out a prequel to his long loved trilogy. Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, & Return of the Jedi. I was on the road speaking when it released into the theaters. I had heard from the nerd universe how awful this new character Jar Jar Binks, a completely computer generated thing, was. He is actually a Gungan from the planet Naboo. (I know that last sentence probably will get a pocket protector sent in the mail.)
I remember finding the nearest theater sitting down to watch Episode I: The Phantom Menace and thinking my nerd friends were right: things really got ugly for Jar Jar when he opened his mouth. I grew up with Star Wars as part of my life. My office sports a R2-D2 trash can and Yoda is perked on my desk ready to give me wisdom at a moments notice. Every Star Wars movie had some annoying character in it, but none that reached the heights or the lows that Jar Jar did. You had Jabba the Hut, C3-PO, Ewoks, even the beloved Yoda. Some where cute, some endearing, some disturbing.
Then the movie came out on DVD and my 6 year old brother and I sat down to watch the movie. As I watched Dalton’s eyes pop out of his head with amazement, my opinion of Jar Jar changed. Mr. Binks made a 6 year old laugh and invited him to a story that had been a part of my entire life. Old school die hard fans will still fight you to the death about how Jar Jar is the worst thing that ever happened to the Star Wars series, but I believe George Lucas was a genius . Now he is a key character in the Cartoon series “Clone Wars” that is reaching a whole new generations of young Jedis.
Like the Star Wars nerds detested the change that Jar Jar brought, many of our churches are so caught up on the way that things used to be. Many times our gatherings feel like retirees sitting on a back porch musing about how things used to be. If you want reach the next generation you need Jar Jar Binks to come to your church. Now before you get all mad at me that you think I am suggesting you have a hologram of celebrity Pastor in your church. Although, how cool would it be to “beam up” Andy Stanley to sit the table you now have instead of a pulpit.
I am suggesting that you need to get creative about reaching the next generation. What the Church (Big C) needs is innovation for reaching the next generation. George Lucas and Yoda had a plan. Chances our for you that the systems you have in place have you stuck in the status quo. I love this quote by Reggie Joiner, “People change when the pain associated with the status quo becomes greater than the pain associated with the change”. As I write this blog a major Christian denomination is meeting about the future. They are having to choose innovation or extinction.
In the ministry I am involved in, our Jar Jar Binks is a Rock Band, Lights, Sound, a DJ, a Hip Hop artist, with everything turned up to 11. Our events are aimed at teenagers and if the adults that happen to be there think its too loud we offer them earplugs because its not for them. Our events look completely different than they did 10 years ago. We even tweak our events based on the whether we are going to an Urban, Suburban, or Rural community. The message we have is too valuable to not find the freshest way to share it with people that have never heard it.
Without Jar Jar Binks I am not sure my Brother would love Star Wars like he does now all because someone thought that reaching him was important. If Hollywood can dream up something to reach future generations with a message about creatures from other planetary systems, robots, Jedis, Siths, and computer generated things you surely can find a creative to get the Gospel message to the next generation.