This is all part of the Pop Evangelical redemption narrative. The script goes like this:
Learn to play guitar. Maybe get a couple tattoos. Buy an expensive pair of jeans. Hit the gym.
Now you’re gonna want to start a church. If you and your bros don’t totally suck at playing bad Coldplay knockoffs spun as praise music, people will start hanging around because American society’s number one product is loneliness. At the very bottom of the culture is a giant sucking hole of despair and death. You know it and the lonely people who’re gonna join your church know it. And they know there’s no safety net to catch them if they fall. But that’s where you come in.
Now here’s the important part: as you get started you really wanna get the best looking people who show up to keep coming back. Make them feel special, make them feel loved, make them feel like they’re part of something they can’t find anywhere else. You don’t just love them because they’re beautiful. No, you love them because you can see Jesus Christ inside them, and to you this is the most beautiful thing of all.
Just ignore the uggos. Hotties attract more hotties and the hotter your gatherings are the more people are gonna show up.
If you have a youth group, get a leader in there ready to identify the cool kids and the tastemakers. Probably best not to think of the youth group as full of hotties, but you get the idea. Make the cool kids the heart of the youth group.
Eventually, you’ll start to attract celebs, ballers, professional musicians, even politicians—anyone who can benefit from being associated with something vaguely about Jesus is fair game at this point, bro. You are on your way, bro.
You’re gonna want to be vague about what you believe. When pressed, talk about “just loving on people,” like, in a general way. And talk about “giving it up” to Jesus. You have vibes, not theological influences. You project purity, but in a sexy way. Your jeans are tight. You’re vaguely accepting of gays but you never actually say so. You’re just loving on people. You’re more interested in love and unity than division, bro. You totally have women leaders in the praise band and on staff, and sometimes they’re even invited to speak on stage if they’re hot enough.
Being surrounded by so many hotties is tough, bro. Totally. Now, you’re gonna screw around on your wife. Your kids will stop talking to you by the time they turn 16, but you are crushing, bro. Yeah, some of these women are on staff and maybe they’re a little reluctant but, bro, you’re the center of this thing. You can see Jesus Christ inside them.
Hang on, bro. It’s about to come crashing down. The people you loved on are going to the media. Pray. It’s time for you to be reborn. You’ve served the Lord. You’re chagrined. You have regrets. You confess. You apologize. You repent. You ask for forgiveness. You ask for grace. It’s time to retreat for a minute. It’s time to reconnect with God, and Jesus, and your wife and kids.
Just like the Lord you’ve experienced death and rebirth. Just like Paul, you’ve been blinded and seen the light. You have a podcast, a redemption narrative, tattoos and tight jeans. And now, bro? You have a TV show on FX. Sky’s the limit.