Who knew that Malcolm Gladwell’s thoughts on ESPN would hit so close to my heart…
So I rarely write something and then publish it the same day.
It’s usually a safe-guard measure — to at least make sure if I’m writing something that’s close to me that my emotions are in check.
It’s also a practical measure to correct any spelling or grammatical mistakes. (I do proofread my stuff before posting. I know often it doesn’t seem like. But yo, English is hard).
So I was making my way to check out a coffeeshop in Houston (Through Good Coffee — my quick review? Great place. Great atmosphere. Great coffee) and was listening to Bill Simmons podcast. He was doing something live from NYC’s Advertising Week with Malcolm Gladwell and they briefly discussed Jemele Hill.
Gladwell said something about ESPN that I’ve felt about the church for … well forever — and this past month, I’ve spent hundreds of words trying to articulate what’s been on my heart (The Church and I; JJ Watt, Harvey, and the Church; Guardians of the Status Quo).
So Gladwell goes on to say:
Malcom Gladwell: I’m always struck by — I feel like ESPN has kind of lost its way. One of their problems is that they established a brand identity as young and edgy and sort of out there. But every time anyone who works for ESPN is either youthful or edgy or out there, they freak out. So it becomes pretty clear that they actually — they wanna be edgy without being edgy.
This brings up this larger thing — I’m always amazed about corporations how when they get large enough just become chicken shit. I mean they just — where are their balls?
… I feel 20 years ago they would have an easier time with this.
They get so big and they get so conservative. They get so — they forget they’re in the entertainment business, right?
And what they are trying to do — they are trying to stop the people who work for them from being interesting.
When you’re confronted with that contradiction you have a problem.
Bill Simmons: it’s an identity thing.
“They wanna be edgy without being edgy.”
I mean, our churches want to change without changing; be younger without being younger; be missional without being missional; be generous without being generous; be community focused without focusing on community; be diverse without putting diverse folks in leadership positions; be open arms, open hearts and open doors without being inclusive;
And as Gladwell accuses of ESPN forgetting that they’re in entertainment business, we forget that we’re in the disciple-making business; the life-transforming-through-God’s-Grace business.
It is an identity thing.
And many of us have forgotten who we are and whose we are.