The perks of sharing our passion
By Sue Washburn | Presbyterians Today
When I was in middle school, my neighbor joined the Shaun Cassidy Fan Club. She got a great poster that looked like it had been signed by the pop star to hang on her wall. We swooned as we stared at it, sitting on her bed and listening to mix tapes. I wondered, as I stared and swooned, what it would be like to be such an insider, to be an actual member of the fan club and get special perks.
Since then, I’ve been part of several fan bases as my own daughters grew up. First it was Harry Potter. We’d dress up and go to release parties and trade lines and scenes from the books and movies. Then their fandom veered into strange emo bands — a rock music genre emphasizing emotional expression — that seemed to appeal only to middle school girls, so I stayed out of it. A little later we flirted with “Dr. Who.” Eventually, we became a small, multi-generational “Star Trek” fangirl club with my mom.
One day, as I was talking about going to a sermon study group with other pastors, my kids pointed out that I was actually writing Jesus fan nonfiction. From that day forward the stodgy-sounding sermon study group became known as the Jesus Fan Club — or JFC — in my planner.
As a small-church pastor with no staff or collaborators, I’ve found the JFC to be vital to my ministry. The perks include meaningful discussions about worship and sermon preparation, advice on tricky church situations and a deepening appreciation for both the Bible and Jesus himself that can come only through ongoing conversations with those who love him.
Every Monday, the JFC meets in a local bookstore to share our love of all things Jesus. We may not be as passionate as the Beliebers (Justin Bieber’s fan base) or as wildly dressed as the Little Monsters (Lady Gaga’s fan base), but we trade lines and scenes from the Bible as we prep our sermons. Here are some things we have learned as Jesus’ fan club:
Do swoon in public. It may be wise to swoon over pop stars in the privacy of your own home, but the Jesus Fan Club was never meant to be a private or exclusive club. Meeting in public lets people know that Jesus is there in the coffee shop or bookstore or bar along with you. Who knows, you may even increase his fan base.
Don’t make the dues too high. Joining the Jesus Fan Club should be easy. People should not be excluded because their theology is different or less than perfect. Jesus and the early church gathered men and women from many walks of life; his fan club should too. Our fan club includes commissioned ruling elders as well as seminary-trained reverends.
Do imitate the star. Many fans dress like the stars they love. As the Apostle Paul reminds us, in our baptism we are clothed with Christ. Of course, this doesn’t mean we need to cosplay and dress like a Middle Eastern man from the first century, but people should see we have put on the armor of God.
Don’t compete. Sometimes fans try to one-up each other when it comes to knowledge and trivia about the star they adore. While it’s good to always learn more, Jesus wasn’t about exalting oneself, but serving others.
Do have fun. Jesus went to dinners and parties, gathering around food and wine. There is no reason for a Jesus fan club to be too serious or stodgy. Gather in a way that allows you to enjoy each other, enjoy the time, but most of all enjoy Jesus.
Sue Washburn is the pastor of Reunion Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.
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