A rash of Christian youth leaders has publicly announced that they’re losing their faith via social media outlets. For those who follow them closely, and/or came to God through them, this is potentially a hard blow to their faith as well.
I was seeing reports about these faltering leaders and even I felt downhearted. While my personal faith wasn’t shaken, we live in a time where God is quickly becoming something of a secondary thought in our society, and it shows. People are miserable and directionless. They lack purpose and their lives feel shallow.
With these Christian youth leaders walking away from the faith, this problem can only deepen.
Enter John Cooper of the Christian rock band “Skillet.”
Cooper saw, as many Christians did, the announcement from Hillsong songwriter Marty Sampson on the renunciation of his faith. Taking to Facebook, Cooper noted that we’ve made it the influencer’s job to be the leaders of our faith, not Christ, and that we’ve made our faith emotion-based, not truth-based.
“Ok I’m saying it. Because it’s too important not to. What is happening in Christianity?” began Cooper’s blistering post. “More and more of our outspoken leaders or influencers who were once “faces” of the faith are falling away. And at the same time they are being very vocal and bold about it. Shockingly they still want to influence others (for what purpose?) as they announce that they are leaving the faith.”
Cooper noted that making internet influencers and celebrities the most relevant people in Christianity has to stop and that relying on modern songs to teach the Gospel instead of the Gospel itself is a mistake that can potentially lead people astray. He even includes himself for good measure:
My conclusion for the church(all of us Christians): We must STOP making worship leaders and thought leaders or influencers or cool people or “relevant” people the most influential people in Christendom. (And yes that includes people like me!) I’ve been saying for 20 years(and seemed probably quite judgmental to some of my peers) that we are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20 year old worship singers as our source of truth. We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word. I’m not being rude to my worship leader friends (many who would agree with me) in saying that singers and musicians are good at communicating emotion and feeling. We create a moment and a vehicle for God to speak. However, singers are not always the best people to write solid bible truth and doctrine. Sometimes we are too young, too ignorant of scripture, too unaware, or too unconcerned about the purity of scripture and the holiness of the God we are singing to. Have you ever considered the disrespect of singing songs to God that are untrue of His character?
Cooper also wrote on the flaring foolishness of these influencers wanting to stay influencers despite the fact that they seem to be directionless themselves:
I have a few specific thoughts and rebuttals to statements made by recently disavowed church influencers…first of all, I am stunned that the seemingly most important thing for these leaders who have lost their faith is to make such a bold new stance. Basically saying, “I’ve been living and preaching boldly something for 20 years and led generations of people with my teachings and now I no longer believe it..therefore I’m going to boldly and loudly tell people it was all wrong while I boldly and loudly lead people in to my next truth.” I’m perplexed why they aren’t embarrassed? Humbled? Ashamed, fearful, confused? Why be so eager to continue leading people when you clearly don’t know where you are headed?
After calling out how cavalier these influencers are being with other people’s lives by “being real,” Cooper calls out these leader’s ideas that no one is addressing hard Biblical issues but them:
Thirdly, there is a common thread running through these leaders/influencers that basically says that “no one else is talking about the REAL stuff.” This is just flatly false. I just read today in a renown worship leader’s statement, “How could a God of love send people to hell? No one talks about it.” As if he is the first person to ask this? Brother, you are not that unique. The church has wrestled with this for 1500 years. Literally. Everybody talks about it. Children talk about it in Sunday school. There’s like a billion books written on the topic. Just because you don’t get the answer you want doesn’t mean that we are unwilling to wrestle with it. We wrestle with scripture until we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Cooper concludes by essentially saying we need to turn back to the Word of God and leave behind the word of influencers who are driven more by emotion than faith. He warns not to follow these leaders as they try to get people to follow them when they don’t even know where they’re going:
It is time for the church to rediscover the preeminence of the Word. And to value the teaching of the Word. We need to value truth over feeling. Truth over emotion. And what we are seeing now is the result of the church raising up influencers who did not supremely value truth who have led a generation who also do not believe in the supremacy of truth. And now those disavowed leaders are proudly still leading and influencing boldly AWAY from the truth.
Is it any wonder that some of our disavowed Christian leaders are letting go of the absolute truth of the Bible and subsequently their lives are falling apart? Further and further they are sinking in the sea all the while shouting “now I’ve found the truth! Follow me!!” Brothers and sisters in the faith all around the world, pastors, teachers, worship leaders, influencers…I implore you, please please in your search for relevancy for the gospel, let us NOT find creative ways to shape Gods word into the image of our culture by stifling inconvenient truths. But rather let us hold on even tighter to the anchor of the living Word of God. For He changes NOT. “The grass withers and the flowers fade away, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8)
I wanted to highlight this because Cooper has a point. It can be damaging to see someone who leads flocks go astray themselves, but we shouldn’t be considering them our leaders in the first place. God is the leader. People falter and lose faith all the time. Every Christian goes through having their faith tested to the breaking point.
It bugs me that these so-called faith leaders would be so shallow as to suddenly make it a public show of renouncing the faith they promoted and became a beacon for so many. As Cooper said, it’s awfully cavalier, and not at all brave or “real.”
If you would like to read Cooper’s Facebook post in full, you can read it below.