Ah, the hip youth pastor.
He's got tattoos. He's got cool music. He's got a neat way of making old Bible stories new, such as referring to the woman who tried to seduce Joseph as "Hot-iphar."
And on Sunday, one such pastor made a splash on the front page of the Dallas Morning News.
Yes, the News — which no longer employs a full-time religion writer — devoted its Page 1 centerpiece and 1,500 total words to this profile:
With lines out the door and bouncers handing out wristbands, the Wednesday night gathering seemed more like a trendy nightclub opening than a church service.
Hundreds of students packed the youth center of River Pointe Church, about 30 miles southwest of Houston, for the weekly service of The Take. They sang along to high-energy songs about Jesus and pulled out their phones to take photos and send Snapchat messages.
“I’m at the take where ru”
“The take is lit!”
In a small green room backstage, 34-year-old Landon Pickering monitored the mood in the auditorium to make sure the focus was on faith, not just fun.
Pickering is a Keller-based youth leader who helps congregations like River Pointe develop programs that get young people flocking to church. He studies brands like Apple, Nike and Red Bull to learn how to attract young audiences. He keeps on top of the latest trends in fashion, music and social media to engage kids and bring them to Christ.
Pickering’s appearance — with ripped jeans, tattooed arms and slick hair — is more pop star than preacher. Last year he was a cover model for The Dallas Morning Newsfashion magazine FD and dubbed the “holy hunk.” His events give away the freshest Nikes as door prizes and play the hottest Drake beats in the vestibule before services.
By my sarcasm up top, you might surmise that I wasn't totally thrilled by the piece. You'd be exactly right.
But here's the thing: I'm not entirely sure whether it's the theology or the journalism that bothers me. Honestly, it's probably a combination of the two.