Sep 07 2011
On Dealing with Crazy Christians

This was written for a Christian radio industry site, and certainly isn't for everybody.  But it might mean something to you, too, in your realm.

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Dear Other Radio People,

First of all, thank you for your work as an Other Radio Person.  This is the hardest kind of radio to do, this “Christian radio” thing.  Most of us who’ve done other formats figure that out, the first time we say something that didn’t… come out… quite right.  We figure this out, subtly, because when we say something the wrong way in this format, someone calls and tells us we are masters of deceit, leading thousands of people to eternal punishment.

In another format, when we mess up, we’re just stupid.  And that’s it.

Anyway, I’ve had to deal with a lot of crazy people, and crazy people can take it to a new level of crazy when they dish out regular-brand crazy with a heapin’ helpin’ of Bible-talk.  Radio friends have even asked me, “How do you handle it?”  And I admit, I’ve gotten frustrated with people.  I wish they’d go away, but only after replacing their “‘Fireproof’ is the finest film ever made!” selves with chai-sipping N.T. Wright fans.

In other words, I wish they’d go away, and I’d be left with more people like… me.

That’s a problem.  If this is ministry, it’s not about me.  Nor is it about my elitism, my biases, or my desire to feel superior to the people who call to wrap up every discussion, every question, no matter what, with “Jesus”, “The Bible”, or “God”.

So here’s what I remind myself:

1)  These people are family.

Because they are.  Growing up, I said things many times that embarrassed my much-cooler brother.  But I was always his brother, and the church is — truly — family.  I’m glad he put up with me, and still puts up with me.  Family is like that.

2)  They’re family, but I will not let these people define Jesus for me.

Yes, there are horrible legalists in the world, and some of them listen to Christian radio.  But while they may embody a particular American church subcultural type, they are not the total picture of the word “Christian”.  The “median” Christian, statistically speaking, is not even American.  She’s a poor woman in Africa, and hasn’t heard of Casting Crowns, Night of Joy, or WWJD? bracelets.  Fine things, all, but I’m not going to confuse our products and subculture with Jesus.

3)  Some of these people are new to the faith.

And they’re excited about it.  They should be.  And they just turned on a Christian station, and they’re elated.  The songs are speaking to them, deeply.  They didn’t even know music could be like this!  They want to hear more about God!  And then I come on, and I talk about Jesus — or about what my dog ate last night.

There’s a reason for this.  The dog thing is life, too, and I’m going to represent life, highs, lows, and even the amusing mundane, on the show.  Christ fills everything with meaning! — but I’m not going to hold it against the listener, who may be a new believer, from not getting it just yet.

You and I have no idea how long that caller has been a believer, or if she even is one.  She may be merely playing church on the “church station”, and know no better.

4)  The church has always been full of freaks.

And thank you, Lord, for that.  Otherwise, I don't get in. 

I don’t know who said it first, but the Church has been described as H.C.E.:  ”Here Comes Everybody”.  The whole motley lot of us, sprinting and jumping and limping and being wheeled and carried in on a gurney.  Cool, uncool – doesn’t matter.  Just glad you’re here.  And it’s been that way since Jesus hand-picked his first disciples.

So why would we expect any different?  ”But some of my callers and emailers seem kind of simple and needy, and, even more so than typical people, and — ”

Well, Jesus’ message has always appealed first to the needy.  Always.  Don’t be shocked, and don’t be surprised, either, when you visit a doc’s office, and the people inside seem sicker than those outside.  Makes sense.  So we can quit reacting to it.

5)  Diminishing them is just a way for me to feel superior.

And I’m not.  And you’re not, either.

Thank God.  Here comes everybody, including you and me.

Comments (39) -

9/7/2011 12:35:07 PM
Lauren
Lauren
Wow bravo Brant! I really liked this and thank you so much for posting it! God Bless!


Lauren
9/7/2011 3:07:09 PM
Mike United States
Mike
I fully agree with all five of your points, but... (you just knew there'd be a but)

I think there is a place for people telling others when they've said something that contradicts God's Word. Sure there are legalists, but then there are literalists, like me, who (reasonably) take everything the Bible says literally.

Legalism is wrong--that's why Jesus got so mad at the Pharisees. But Jude and Paul and Peter got pretty ticked at those who were teaching false doctrine too. (I'm not saying you're teaching false doctrine, Brant, I'm just saying this in general.)

When someone denies justification by faith alone, you tell them what the Bible says and show them that they are wrong. (Oh no, I said "wrong"!) When someone denies the existence of a literal Hell, you rebuke them lovingly and show them the Truth of the Word. You don't yell in their face or scream that they're a heretic (though you can say that about them lovingly, just not screaming it), but you let them know what God says, and tell them not to put their opinion over God's opinion.

So, all this is to say that yes, Christians are different. We have different takes on the Word of God, on the non-essential issues. But it isn't wrong to let people know (again, lovingly and gently) that they should compare what they're saying with Scripture.

God bless you, Brant! Keep doing what you're doing!
9/7/2011 3:38:16 PM
Matt Davis United States
Matt Davis
Whew!  I'm glad you weren't talking about me.  I am well aware that "Fireproof" is a distant third on the finest films ever made list behind "Left Behind" and "The Omega Code".
9/7/2011 4:10:58 PM
Brant Hansen United States
Brant Hansen
Mike, Paul was engaged in full-throated conversations with legalists, apparently throughout his ministry.  

I know people are often on the lookout for theological liberalism -- and I'm no theological liberal, and understand the impulse -- but we should be able to say "legalist" without a "Okay, but we can still rebuke people because some things are wrong."

There just ARE legalists. They try to reduce the Gospel to laws, and they've been around forever.  They're still around today.  Plenty of them.  
9/7/2011 6:57:07 PM
Lauren
Lauren
Hey Brant, I know that Ashton is gone tonight but we ARE still having mixoligy tonight... riiiiight????
9/7/2011 6:57:27 PM
Lauren
Lauren
Mixoligy LIVE*
9/8/2011 7:24:09 AM
Lauren
Lauren
Whew. neeever mind Laughing
9/8/2011 12:19:59 PM
Joy United States
Joy
I have. . .Nothing to say, for once! lol Except Thank you. :~)
9/8/2011 1:22:39 PM
molly United States
molly
Brant, I love your blogs and I have enjoyed laughing at most of what you say because I feel the same about most of it.
Thank you for sharing and for being real in this world where we all struggle to get along with our "family" Smile
9/8/2011 1:38:56 PM
Brandon United States
Brandon
This is the first time I have read this blog and I really appreciate what you said here. I currently work in southeast Missouri for a congregation here as the Youth Minister. I have been doing this kind of ministry for 4 years now. I wanted to say something about your number 2 point. In the first place I worked there was a young lady who came to know Christ shortly after I started there. Over the next few years she really struggled with how Christians acted. She ended up letting it define what she thought of Jesus and she has not come back to the Church. It's an insanely difficult thing, to not let other people define who Jesus is, but rather let the Word of God do that. I was happy to see that in your 5 points up there!
9/8/2011 1:55:46 PM
Sara Beth United States
Sara Beth
LOVE it- as usual. Smile Especially love #2. Going to pass this along... as usual. Smile
9/8/2011 4:55:53 PM
JEANNE United States
JEANNE
I am so proud of you for making these points!!  Air one radio and positive Christian music have become a life line to God in my teens lives. They are in the midst of grappling with an atheist Dad who promised to love me and our children in a Christian home and then changed his mind. We have suffered for the gospel and I am so thankful that Jesus ministry was not always in a "church building". But for ALL to hear and see that He alone is the way the truth and the life...eternal life...taught through love and forgiveness. May God bless you in this ministry!
9/8/2011 5:07:18 PM
Mark United States
Mark
Brant,
I too identify with you so much of the time (that should scare you more than me). My problem is the same one I've commented on the past few blogs. I get so upset with the people that call themselves "Christians" and then judge and condemn others and claim they can back it up with scripture, and I've seen it on here, they quote the most far fetched scripture and fit it in to their comments or at least think they do. They never quote Jesus, they don't even sound like they think about what Jesus would say or do. Since we all know we "all" are sinners that's "all" of us. Not these people, they seem only to want to impress people with their misconstrued interpretations. I am a sinner, I am a Christian, I am saved, I pray for and accept other sinners, I hope to help other sinners. I hope not to criticize or condemn anyone. When I do, I am sinning again. I'll ask for my own forgiveness, don't need someone to make me feel worse about my sins than I already feel. These people don't define Jesus for me, we should not lose one person trying to know Jesus because of what another "Christian" said to that person. They will be judged someday by the only one that carries that authority. Thanks for being you and being able to write and talk to us like you do. Please don't stop out of frustration. EVER !!! We need you.
9/8/2011 5:18:17 PM
Lee United States
Lee
Mike: Paul also cautions us to not become stumbling blocks to our brethren. It is counterproductive to get in arguments over doctrine if it causes the other person to lose faith. So, I don't fight with my Catholic friends about Mary. I don't beat my Baptist brethren over the head about infant v believer baptism. I don't get mad at Pentecostals for speaking in tongues. What would be the point in sowing discord? After all, they got what's important - Jesus. They're saved too!

That's not to say I don't enjoy a rich theological discussion with a willing participant. It's just that going around correcting folks is not likely to win friends and influence people. I have found it far more useful to witness to how Jesus has changed my life.

In Christ,
Lee
9/8/2011 5:41:49 PM
Noeiza United States
Noeiza
I don't have to read your blog, to comment on it! But one thing I know, its that if you would only know  That the whole world its crazy, some of them are locked and some free. But
But everybody's, mashugana, I'm crazy for Jesus, and so are you, Sorry but its true. I love the song Mess of me, one tinme was singing it at church, and there was this big silence, Oh the people claiming to be normal " they are the craziest. They just know how to hide it!
9/8/2011 11:56:27 PM
Air1 JB United States
Air1 JB
I just wanna say "ditto" to what Lee said.
9/9/2011 7:01:46 AM
Lauren
Lauren
Make that double ditto JB
9/9/2011 9:05:48 AM
Sandi Felkner United States
Sandi Felkner
So, Brant.  Do you agree and think your listeners are just a bunch of Christian crazies?  Just curious about your take on this.  I'm sure you can tell some stories about (some of the)people you have spoken with. Although the writer seems to love his/her crazy Christian brotheren, he/she really needs to pray about that elitist, almost paranoid attitude. It makes him/her look kind of, well, crazy. Lo1!
9/9/2011 9:25:51 AM
Jake United States
Jake
Mike, one more quick thought.  How do you think the early apostles were dealing with all of this?  Most of the same issues we face today as a Church are the same we face directly after Christ's ascension.  It's important for us to have a foundation in the Word of God (scripture) but to remember also that for 300+ years, the Church had no bible.  That's more than 300 years of relying on the old testament scriptures, and tradition passed down generation to generation.  Scripture is not the sole source of truth in our world, Christ is, and He is evident in scripture (both testaments), in tradition, and in every person we meet every day.

Thanks for sharing Brant!  Always love reading your blog!
9/9/2011 10:50:32 AM
Some person on the internet Canada
Some person on the internet
I randomly came across Air1 on itunes and have been enjoying the music and the earnest desire to be loving and forgiving that I hear expressed.

I was curious about this article because most people I know think of the US bible belt Christian fundamentalists to be judgemental and hateful to gays, single mothers, and sex in general. With values like that, who would want to learn anything from them?

But this article helps me see why the Christian faith attracts a disproportionate number of judgmental people. They are helped the most by the loving religious perspective! Thanks, you've opened my eyes to the idea that I shouldn't judge Christianity by it's most needy and judgmental adherents.
9/9/2011 11:45:11 AM
Lauren
Lauren
One quick thing I want to say.

Christianity is no religion whatsoever. It's a belief. We don't believe in a fake god or a bunch of individual greek gods. We believe in, and serve, the one TRUE God. Just to sum that up.



I also think it's great that you found Air1 and this website. Keep listening. It's a great radio station to listen to.

God Bless you.

Peace&Love

9/9/2011 11:55:52 AM
Lee United States
Lee
The coastal media really doesn't get the Bible belt at all, partly through their own prejudices and partly because they do not like the logical implications of what they are hearing.
 
Assertion: Christian fundamentalists are judgmental. Well, in the literal meaning of the word, yes they are. All Christians all called to discern what is good, truthful, and from God as opposed to what is evil, false, and of the world. We judge, but we do not condemn. Only God can do that, and will do that to everyone who does not believe in his heart and confess with his mouth that Jesus was indeed the holy son of God, who lived, died, and was raised for the remission of our sins. My sins. Your sins. Everyone's sins. All fall short of the glory of God. Unfortunately, too many Christians forget that.
 
Assertion: Christians want to convert everyone. Um, yeah. That's what we are called to do. That's what the Great Commission is all about. Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We really do think that non-Christians are going to Hell if they don't believe, and we're not at all happy about it. Bringing someone to Jesus truly is the greatest gift that can ever be given to anyone - the gift of eternal life.
 
That gift comes at a price. Once you let Jesus into your heart, he's a pretty rude houseguest. He wants to make changes in your life. Uncomfortable changes. Things that you previously held important, all those other gods like career, status, money, sex, they must become secondary to him, and you are called to act as such - not because you will get kicked out of the club if you don't - but as a natural response to his salvation. Your life no longer belongs to you. In truth, it never really did in the first place.
 
In Christ,
Lee
9/9/2011 11:59:23 AM
brant United States
brant
Hey Sandi --

I wrote this.  And I'm sorry it wasn't clear enough:  I'm saying *I* have my many problems, and I *am* crazy.  

This said, I hardly think all my listeners are crazy, putting it mildly. This was written for Christian radio people, though, and I can tell you, I've had dozens of conversations with people about this very thing, and I actually wrote it to encourage them, and myself, to keep on keepin' on.  Trust me, almost all of them struggle with this. And for some, to the point of just saying, "To heck with this.  The 'secular' people are nicer."

There's a danger, of couse, in being honest about this in public: People will take the struggle, itself, to try to show grace to the "Extra Grace Required" people, as another thing to criticize.
9/9/2011 12:28:29 PM
Jake United States
Jake
Lee,

I'm going to go out on a limb and challenge a piece of your second assertion.  I wanna say first that this stuff doesn't make me angry, I just like to discuss different viewpoints on Christianity, and I mean no disrespect by trying to dig deeper into your comment.

As a Catholic Christian believer, I belong to the largest sect of Christianity (1 billion+ people and counting).  I couldn't agree more that we're commissioned to proclaim the truth of Christ always to all people.  My exception to your assertion is that Christians believe that ALL people who don't accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior are going to Hell.  Excuse my rewording of your sentence, but I believe that is what you were driving at there.

The Roman Catholic Christian Church teaches to 1/2 (the 1 billion+) of the Christians in the world (give or take) that we can't put God's mercy in a box.  At the end of the day, we know Hell is real, and pray that it remains underpopulated.  Beyond that, Christ is clear that no one comes to the Father except through Him.  How & when we do that, and what circumstances do to compromise our free will to get to know Jesus aren't really discussed.  What is discussed is that great mercy of the Father (think the prodigal son).  

You're right to say we judge but not condemn.  We judge our brother's actions, but not our brother's heart.  That is always between our brother and God.  I could give the brutal examples of the aborted unborn, or unbaptized children dying in a car wreck, and ask if you believe they're going to hell?  But I think that neither of us believe that.  

The point I'm driving at, is that we can never just straight up say to (or about) a person, "You are going to Hell."  Frankly we don't know.

Peace in Christ

Luceat Lux Vestra!
9/9/2011 12:56:08 PM
Lee United States
Lee
Fair enough, Jake. I was more thinking of those who have been given the opportunity to believe, and have rejected it. I cannot begin to profess what the fate is of a child in the Congo that dies of malaria, never having heard the name of Jesus. That is, to steal a phrase, way above my pay grade.

I dont disagree with your post in any meaningful way.

For the record, I am Lutheran, just in case anyone was wondering.
9/9/2011 2:52:26 PM
Sandi Felkner
Sandi Felkner
Brant,

Thanks for clearing that up for me. I feel like an idiot for  being the only one to not see that it was written by you. DUH!  I guess I just went to the top of the "crazy" list, huh? Lol!
9/9/2011 5:18:31 PM
Angelika United States
Angelika
I am glad you are happy where you are.  WordFM Morning Show is not the same without you. I miss your personality.  Good luck and God Bless.
9/10/2011 6:16:23 PM
Bree
Bree
im not afriad to say im crazy, im crazy about God a Jesus Freak Andd not ashamed of that
9/10/2011 6:26:12 PM
Dawna United States
Dawna
Brant I have to agree with you that it seems the secular world is nicer. I work with the public in the health care field and often the ppl who come out as Christians seem to be more judgmental. But i have to ask myself. Surely not all of the kind quite ppl I work with are non- Christians. Over the years I have learned that it is often the very Godly kind quiet ppl that witness the most. So I have had to just learn to ignore the outspoken judgmental "christian"  and thank God for the quiet unassuming witness that shows me who Jesus is everyday
9/12/2011 4:57:16 AM
Krista United States
Krista
Thank you Brant for saying what needs to be said, and most of all for realizing that Christians can be crazy bc Christians are still human. My hubby is the pastor of a very small chuch plant that we loving refer to as the church of misfit toys. None of us seem to fit in to any church because we aren't perfect Christians who do and say everything right...and we are willing to admit it. We believe that the Bible is God's perfect Word, and also that imperfect people are often really bad at living and practicing what we preach. Thank you for expressing what ministry is like in such a beautiful way while staying true to God's Word. You are awesome.
9/12/2011 6:01:08 AM
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9/14/2011 2:27:48 PM
missy United States
missy
Brant,  Thank you so much for your ministry!  I am so grateful for your love of God and your love for people!!
9/20/2011 10:09:11 PM
karen United States
karen
I never looked at it like that before... thanks for being you.
9/30/2011 5:52:00 PM
Lena United States
Lena
Hey Brant,

I've been reading your blogs and listening to air1 helps me get through the days.  I've actually been dealing with the opposite at work.  I work with a group of 5 people my age..we all have to work together on projects and all of us grew up Christians two even went on year long mission trips!  But I'm always excluded from them because they always talk about other people in cruel ways, say racist comments, poke fun at people with disabilities, talk about people they hate and go out for drinks which I'm not a fan of not because of my faith I just don't like the smell of beer and I don't like to badmouth other people or gossip so there's no reason for me to be there.. I don't think highly of myself it's just not fun to poke fun at others. We're in out mid 20s close 30s and I feel I'm in high school. I come home crying and feel like quitting but don't want it to be because of this. I've also felt upset calling myself a Christian when these people are calling themselves the same thing while being cruel to others. I don't feel like calling myself a Christian anymore.
10/3/2011 1:05:16 PM
Debbie Sneddon United States
Debbie Sneddon
Brant, you made me smile, so much sandpaper, so many raw edges needing sanding...all I can say is Yeowwww!!! Gotta love 'em and just keep grinning, have to remind myself of that constantly. God bless you!
10/13/2011 3:07:33 AM
Kevin United States
Kevin
Is it OK if I have never seen "Fireproof'??? Laughing
11/7/2011 5:56:29 PM
Lauren
Lauren
lol don't worry. I've never seen it either Smile No1's been stoning be or abusing me cause I haven't seen it so I think your good Smile
11/8/2011 7:26:58 AM
Lauren
Lauren
stoning Me*
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