What Memes Mean: The Novelty Of Baby Preachers

Each Wednesday in What Memes Mean, Kirk Bozeman questions the significance, humor, and subtexts of viral videos, memes, and other Internet fads.

The baby preacher is back: O evangelicalism, how strange thou art.

The proliferation of baby preachers on YouTube really bothers me.  The whole concept taps into the errant notion held by many evangelicals that theological training and ministry experience is subservient to “the shivers”, and that anyone who tacks the claim “God revealed this to me” onto a statement should be given the floor.  Said sarcastically: evidently God’s design for successful teaching and preaching is not a balanced, intelligent, passionate presentation of hard-studied truth – it’s that we get all worked up and yell a lot.  Baby preachers are another example of content, substance, and wisdom taking a backseat to things like personality and novelty.

Child preachers are novelty.  Certainly God can do as He pleases in all the earth, and in times past He chose to speak through a number of interesting mediums, including donkeys (Num 22:22-35), habitual murderers (1 Tim 1:12-17), and sudden crowds of heavenly beings (Luke 2:8-15).  But none of those communications was designed to wow the world through unsubstantial novelty.  Child preaching videos smack not of God speaking in a way that humbles men at the surprising sound of His voice, they come across as “spiritual child beauty pageants.”  By this I mean that it’s really about the parents, not the kids.  It’s exploitative and disturbing.

Please don’t think I’m taking shots at the kiddos – they don’t know any better.  Infants and children mimic their parents’ actions in order to seek approval, or at least repeat actions for which approval is received.  For a children under parental care, this is not yet an issue of personal ethics.  The problem is with the parents, church leadership, and (my own personal pet peeve) the congregations who cheer them on.  Do these people really prefer this sort of thing to studied, prayed-over, life-experience-built preaching by a loving adult pastor/teacher?  *sigh*

We all want God to trump the rules of fallen man, to turn the world on its head.  He in fact does do this, will do this, and has done this throughout history.  But I doubt that this will ever be accomplished through a shallow novelty.  And again, child preaching is not gospel proclamation – it is novelty.  It gives the world another reason to roll its eyes and not take the Church very seriously.

About Kirk Bozeman
  • Carol

    Just reminds me of when Jesus said that a perverse generation seeks for signs and wonders but ignores the Christ, who came to serve, to love and to die for sinners.

    I feel like so many Christians today are looking to be wowed, to be gobsmacked by spectacle, novelty and “miracles”. The greatest miracle is that Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, came into the world in lowly human form and lived his life on earth with NO SIN. And He died a death and took on a punishment He didn’t deserve – the innocent dying for the guilty. And as if that wasn’t enough – Christ was raised bodily from death. What more miracles do we need? What more do we need to see God’s amazing love and eternal glory than to look towards our Lord Jesus Christ?

    I think you hit the nail on the head – child preachers are less about the kids, MUCH less about God and more about seeking approval, crowd pleasing and building up of self.

  • katyjeanmachine

    Sadly, I wonder how many of these kids grow up with parents that force them to believe they are called to preach when their gifts may really be in other areas, and have not truly received that calling as an adult. It’s good to want to aspire to serve God and teach others about Jesus, but it’s not good to not really understand what it means to recognize that call and answer it.

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ Drew Dixon

    @Carol, AMEN!

    @katyjeanmachine

    I think you bring up a very important point–these kids are merely imitating what they have seen their preacher do. It really is mind boggling that someone would see this and think “oh that kid is called to be a preacher.” I mean seriously, these kids are saying gibberish …

  • Aaron Dean

    Unfortunately this is not a recent phenomenon. For an intriguing look into this world, and what else it can lead to, check out the documentary “Marjoe” from 1972 (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068924/). It will certainly make you think!


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