a radical commitment to what?

I saw this on the Duke Divinity Call & Response Blog:

Anaheim church-goers celebrate with tattoos
The Orange County Register: To mark its first birthday, Anaheim congregation proposes “radical commitment” — tattoos of various versions of the church logo.

I was intrigued, partly because I was reading about tattoos this week over at Adam Copeland’s meme and partly because the idea of getting one to celebrate turning 40 and getting my Ph.D. (both happening within the year, I hope) is still rattling around in my head. And of course we live nearby. So I read the article and was suddenly filled with misgivings. Now, I realize this is the secular version of the event, the newspaper article from the popular press. The real thing might have had a very different emphasis, but this is what people are reading and this is the article Call & Response picked up.

This seems to be all about the church and not at all about God

photo by Drew A. Kelley

  • The tattoo is a version of the church logo. It might have a cross in it (in the gaps–the cross to the side is not part of the logo), but what is the person going to think of first? The cross or the church? (Logo Options from the church website.)
  • The pastor said he would get the tattoo if more than 200 people showed up for the service. What is this, some kind of “I’ll shave my head if blah blah blah happens” publicity stunt? His comment quoted in the article: “We hit the number.”
  • A member is quoted saying “City Church has really done a lot for our family, so I thought it would be a nice way to pay them back.”
  • Someone else said he was doing it because “you’re my pastor. I gotta show my support.”

I get worried when it’s all about the pastor and the church. What happens when that pastor or that church lets the people down? And it will happen. Do they have faith in God that will sustain them? We all know I adore my pastor and I am so glad she’s at our church, but church is not about her. We all know I believe very strongly in the community of the church and the idea that it is an essential part of the Christian life, but our radical commitment must be to the God who created the church and not to the very fallible and human church. Maybe some of us humans need church, that community, first, but the church should always be pointing to God–not to itself.

And I won’t even get started on the numbers gimmicks.

I also have an issue with the church pushing something like this on people. Tattoos are permanent. That’s the point. Talk about peer pressure! Oh my word!

Am I missing something? Is there a better spin on this? Like I said, I don’t know the real intention of the day or the tattoos or even the church itself. This is the only piece I’ve read. But it still weirded me out.

Edited to Add: Logo options from the church website and clarification about the tattoo photo. I did look at the church website and it looks like they have a lot of good things going on. I’m still troubled.

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One Response to a radical commitment to what?

  1. As a Christian with a couple tatts, I too am a bit concerned by this. I can only hope and pray that the secular media coverage missed the true point and did not present an accurate account. Even so, I can’t see a Christ centered reason for tattooing your church’s logo to your skin. That does seem church centric, and not in a “Bride of Christ” way, but possibly in an idolatrous way.

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