Whenever I am speak to a church or group of lay leaders about the missional church movement, I inevitably spend the greatest amount of time trying to convince them that "Christendom" is over. From now on I am going to come with the new Gap Ad ready to play. If you haven't seen it, watch it :
For the record, I like the artistic composition of this ad. I think the costumes (Gap clothes) are fun and the dancers are talented and beautiful. The choreography is top-notch. High school dance teams the nation over will be mimicking this ad all year.
Let's take a look at the lyrics:
2, 4, 6, 8!
'Tis the time to liberate!
Go classic tree, go plastic tree, go plant a tree, go without a tree!
You 86 the rules!
You do what just feels right!
Happy do whatever you want-a-kah and to all a cheery night!
First notice that Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Solstice are all equated. But of course, they are very different holidays. Christmas and Hanukkah are celebrations of monotheistic religions that praise God for an act of deliverance. Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration held in the United States honoring universal African heritage and culture. Solstice is, of course, an astronomical event that happens twice a year when the earth's axis is most inclined either to or away from the sun. Historically it marks the changing of seasons.
I am not claiming to be an expert in the histories or practices of these winter holidays. But it is worth pointing out that our American culture considers them all to be the same. The fact that a god is not even part of Kwanzaa or Solstice doesn't really matter.
The commercial focuses on being liberated from holiday traditions - get a tree or don't. You do what just feels right. Do whatever you want-a-kah. This commercial seems to be preaching a religion of self-absorption, selfishness, self-idolatry, I'm not sure. At least past secular commercials were focused on kindness, helping others, giving, and making the world a little better. Even if most commercials featured the secular humanist Christmas, as opposed to the Christian Christmas, it was still focused on other people.
This commercial highlights the "i" culture of America. Do whatever feels good and be independent at all costs. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, it doesn't matter. It is all the same. Do whatever as long as you have fun (and buy Gap clothes).
The missional church movement begins by acknowledging that proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is a radical, counter-cultural act that requires courage and conviction. If you don't believe that being a Christian is outside the norm of American culture, then just watch this ad again. And then imagine how your church needs to change inside and out to reach secular Americans with the Good News.