Trekkies vs. Churchies

Posted: November 21, 2008 in Church, Perspective

I’m really going to let my geekness show here by confessing that I am an avid Star Trek fan.  I grew up watching episodes of the original series with my Dad (though I’ll admit the 60s cheesy-ness scared me even in the 70s).  I saw Star Trek II in the theater (okay, now my age is showing) and loved it.  I became a fan of the rest of the movies, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and even…dare I say it…Enterprise, though that show only lasted 4 seasons.

Just how bad is my fandom?  Well, if you’re a Simpsons fan, you may remember an episode where Bart became a nerd and found a “nerd underground” of other students who met in a basement at the school to avoid being bullied.  Well, I WAS the kid in the corner building a scale model of the Enterprise.  Yes, my Star Trek nerd-dom runs that deep.  Somewhere buried in closets and the attic I have a fleet of starships of polystyrene plastic wih names non-nerds won’t recognize like “Galor-class” and “U.S.S. Defiant.”  (For the record, models are not toys, just to be clear).

Okay, though I’m that avid of a fan, I feel I have been saved from being a true Trekkie.  Marriage, ministry, and several near butt-kickings in high school helped save me from a future of being that odd dude who attends (and dresses up for) Star Trek Conventions and owns a Klingon-English dictionary.  I’d rather be outside mountain biking than going over starship schematics.  I’d rather watch House or the Office than a Star Trek re-run.  And I don’t care that the Enterprise prequel has some timeline inconsistiencies with the rest of the series (there are people who do).  I agree with William Shatner who once told a crowd of Trekkies to “Get a life.”

But I have to admit my trek addiction was tempted when I saw this on YouTube:

J.J. Abrams (the “Lost” dude) directing a Star Trek movie?  Sounds like a perfect formula for breathing new life into the series.

Well, you would think anyway.  Being the nerd that I am, I was reading about this movie over on imdb.com, only to discover a forum full of near rabid-opposition to this movie by it’s long time fanbase.  “It’s going to change everything.”  “The new Enterprise bridge doesn’t look the same.”  “Gene Roddenberry is rolling over in his grave.”  “Why doesn’t the new Uhura have big boobs?”  (Yes, that’s actually a 3-page-forum thread…sheesh).

I…kid…you…not.  And these practically whiny comments are just a sampling of negative attitudes towards the new movie.  Heck, there’s even a compete editorial today in our local Decatur Daily bashing the new direction.  To paraphrase Jeff Dunham, J.J. Abrams is bursting into flames “faster than Marililyn Manson at a Baptist Revival.”

But let’s face it.  The 40-year-old Star Trek franchise is dying already.  It has been ever since the debacle that was Star Trek: Nemesis (horrible send-off for the Next Generation storyline and generally “meh” movie anyway) and the lack of interest in Enterprise, which was the first series not to last 7 seasons (cancelled after only 4).  For this franchise to survive, new life needs to be breathed into it.  It can’t be the “more of the same” the hardcore fans want, because that’s not attracting new viewers (which in Hollywood is everything).

***

One bold poster on IMDB dared suggest that the fans were killing the franchise, because they obssess over details like timeline inconsistencies or the art design or whether or not Klingons really have forehead ridges (yes, seriously).  These fans would so scrutinize any “new” attempt by writers that they doomed it to fail from the start.  And now that J.J. Abrams is daring to make the franchise edgier, more action-oriented, and ultimately more appealing to young people, these fans are about to have a heart attack.

Basically, these fans are just too comfortable with the way things used to be and do not want to see the new changes happen.  And this got me thinking:  It kinda sounds like church people, doesn’t it?  Star Trek has Trekkies, but we have Churchies.  It’s a scary parallel…

For the churchie, every Sunday is a Jesus “convention” where he/she dresses up in their Sunday best and puts on a mask they don’t wear at work or at home.  Trekkies have the Klingon-English dictionary – but churchies’ bookcases are loaded with Tim LaHaye/Jerry Jenkins books.  The churchie can tell you how many pipes there are in their church’s pipe organ and can do Bible sword drills faster than the pastor, but they can’t tell you their neighbors’ names.  Like Trekkies who scoff at the people who don’t know what a warp injector is, the churchie scoffs at people who don’t know the stories in the Bible.

Churchies don’t like change, either.  When the church installs new screens to project the words to hymns up high so people didn’t have to stare at a hymnal, the churchie holds his hymnal up high enough to block the screens from his field of view.  When the church starts a new service to reach the unchurched, the churchie is worried that the new style is drawing in the wrong kinds of people.  When the pastor reads from the NIV, the churchie shakes his head that the KJV has been neglected.  He may even leave the church for it.

Like the Star Trek franchise, the church is in trouble.  Ever year, thousands of churches close their doors for good.  Churches that were mega-churches just 1 or 2 decades ago have ceased growing, and some are even in decline.  The United States is perhaps the only country in the world where Christianity is shrinking, not growing.

Change is needed…deseperately…to renew our faith and renew our mission to reach people for Jesus Christ.  But like Trekkies obssessing over whether the new Uhura’s boobs are large enough, many Christians are too jaded against change and are instead focused largely on criticizing the efforts of churches that are daring to be different to make a difference.

As William Shatner said, we need to “get a life.”  While we’re arguing over carpet colors and whether or not you can play rock music in church, people are dying and going to hell.  While we’re debating which translation of the Bible is “appropriate,” the very room is caving in on us.  It’s time we quit being obssessed with ourselves, and became obssessed with reaching other people.  If what we are doing is not working, it’s time to change.

Are you a churchie?  Are you a fan?  Do you have all the t-shirts and attend the weekly conventions?

Or are you more than a fan?  Are you a die-hard, sold out for Christ “Christ-follower” who does not fear change if it will get the message out to people who have never heard it?

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Comments
  1. Cole says:

    The Defiant was a kick-booty little ship … but I digress.

    I think that deep down, we all may be a little apprehensive about change. Especially when it’s change we don’t understand or when we’re perfectly content with the status quo. The trick is having the wisdom to know when change is actually needed, and then the faith to follow even when we don’t like it.

    A lot of changers don’t have the wisdom to discern exactly what change is needed. While too many churchies don’t have the faith to step out and let God lead.

    I think that a lot of the time there is a huge disconnect between the changers and the churchies. Sometimes the churchies are just stupid and hardheaded, but sometimes the changers do a piss poor job of getting the message across as to why change is absolutely necessary. Telling a churchies that “your way sucks” is just as counter productive as telling the person you’re trying to reach that “you’re going to hell, ye sinful heathen!”.

    Of course, on the flip side, there are some churchies that will never listen to reason and any new Uhura could never live up to the former glory. I heard a radio ad for a church the other day that was dogmatic about being “faithful to the doctrines and traditions of the Reformation”. It made me shiver a bit.

    Such a complex issue sometimes…

  2. I loved the Defiant, too.

    I think you’re right on both counts. Those who want change are often too quick to forsake the heritage behind them, and those who defy change act as if they’ve got the “monopoly” on how to do church (I’ve known both sides). So – absolutely – it must be done right. I just think it’s sad when we have put tradition and our own “churchy” behavior so much in the foreground of all that we do that we don’t even realize we’ve beoome completely ineffective. It’s at that point churches (and people within) look like museum exhibits to times gone by rather than living vessels of God’s message…

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