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There are two ironclad rules of Gen XYZ Americans: (1) They like to be trendy, (2) but only until everyone knows what they’re into is trendy. We want to be like everyone else but, at the same time, different. So we gravitate to whatever people are into as long as it doesn’t feel like everyone else is into it.

This leads me to a few thoughts on the young, restless, reformed movement. I believe God is at work in the under-40 generation, doing something doctrinally, ecclesiologically, and doxologically healthy among many youngish Christians. Further, I believe this work of God is being mediated through a remarkable network of like-minded pastors, preachers, and scholars. I don’t know when there have been so many folks, often friends, saying and writing more or less the same things about the gospel, the atonement, the Scriptures, the glory of God, the doctrines of grace, the centrality of the church, the importance of preaching, the roles of men and women, and on and on it goes. We are blessed with an inordinate and growing number of good teachers, good books, good blogs, and good conferences.

But our desire for biblical truth, as understood (for the most part correctly, I believe) by Calvin, Edwards, Piper, Carson, etc. must be a passion for God, not a passion for trendy.

We must embrace historic protestant orthodoxy in general and, for many of us, particular Reformed expressions of it, not because it makes us feel superior to them (whoever them is), but because it is the best way to know Him. The goal is not to be a T4G-TGC-CHBC-ACE-PCA-SGM-DGM groupie. The goal is to know God, love God, and serve God–all of which can be helped, and is being helped, by the love for gospel truth in these groups (and many others).

But allegiance to our favorite conference or preferred tribe must always always be a means to further our allegiance to Christ. He must never be a means for recruiting more people to our tradition. The spotlight is always on the glory of God in the face of Christ.

So let’s be Christ-seekers, not trend-chasers.

But on the flip side–and now I’m speaking to those who rolled their eyes at the acronyms above–don’t close your heart to the truth coming from the leading lights of the Reformed resurgence just because you are afraid of being a groupie. Being wary of trendiness is a good, healthy fear, so long as it’s a fear and not a fortress. So what if all your friends in Campus Crusade are nuts about Wayne Grudem? Don’t believe his systematic theology just because of that. But don’t reject it for that reason either.

Spotting the Dangers

All of this leads me to reflect on a few dangers in our circles.

1. Indwelling sin. That’s always a killer. We must put to death all forms of pride, selfish ambition, rivalry, impatience, haughtiness, fear of man and love of the praise of man.

2. Thinking too much about how we are doing and what is going on (like I’m doing now!). Navel gazing is not helpful (unless you are the Coastguard, and I think that’s a little different).

3. An ignorance of God’s work in the whole world. We are a small slice of the Christian pie in North America, a smaller slice in the English speaking world, and a smaller sliver still in the global church. All roads do not lead to Louisville. Praise God for healthy, Christ-centered, gospel-believing, Bible-teaching, disciple-making movements wherever they exist.

I give this little list to get to dangers 4 and 5, which circle back to the bigger theme of this post.

4. A bandwagon mentality where people jump on board because it seems like the new thing to do. These are the people who pretend to like Lost just because their friends are always talking about it.

5. An anti-bandwagon mentality where people jump off because they don’t want to be like everyone else. These are the people who hate Lost just because their annoying friends rave about it all the time.

Heeding Some Advice

My advice, as it relates to the last two dangers, is simple: forget about bandwagons. Not one of the leaders I know is interested in hitching the work of God to a bandwagon. They want to proclaim the gospel, build up the local church, guard the good deposit, and work for the good of saints, sinners, and sufferers. This is the stuff to be into. And if other Christians can help you get into this stuff, listen to them.

In other words, learn from good teachers, but don’t idolize them. Read your favorite authors, but read lots of other authors too. Download the gifted preachers, but honor your pastor first. Go to the great conferences, but realize that the mission of God and the promises of God are with your local church. Be thankful for strong preaching, good theology, warm hearts, and visionary leaders. But, most of all, be thankful for sovereign work of the Spirit, the redemptive work of the Son, and the unchanging, everlasting love of the Father. Let’s keep our noses in the text and our eyes on Christ and let the bandwagon go where it will.

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26 thoughts on “A Generation of Bandwagon Jumpers”

  1. LaughingLady says:

    Interesting you mention this when I’m struggling a little bit with what, exactly, is a healthy admiration for a contemporary Bible teacher, and when does it become too much about the man and not enough about The Message? Thanks for the points to watch for and the suggestion to not just focus on our favourites.

  2. Malin Friess says:

    Kevin…in light of the popularity of Reformed thinking and New Calvinism..would you consider writing a response to Open Theism?

  3. Nancy says:

    Navel gazing – Coast Guard: Ouch :-)

    Our youngest son will be graduating from Coast Guard Basic Training in just a few weeks – I hope he’ll be doing more than navel (or naval) gazing :-)

  4. Great post – so true man

  5. Nancy says:

    . . . and thanks for another good post! It is so easy to get caught up in following a man instead of following Christ.

    Thanks for the reminders about our relationship and obligation to the local church and pastor! It is with our local body of believers that we live out/work out the many things we may learn from others . . . you can’t fellowship with an MP3, book or DVD, nor will they “call you out” and encourage you toward faithful living!

  6. JR says:


    You nailed it.

  7. Jeremy says:

    Is it fair to say that liking Lost because it is good TV is the “sine qua non” of gospel-centered Christianity?

  8. Kevin DeYoung says:

    There are lots of good books critiquing Open Theism: Beyond the Bounds (edited by Justin Taylor and others), No Other God (John Frame), and God’s Lesser Glory (Bruce Ware).

    I’ve never watched Lost. I know almost nothing about the show except that many people like it and other people are annoyed with their friends who like it.

  9. Jim Thomas says:

    Kevin: Well said brother! Here’s a quote from an old Irish preacher that aligns with what you have posted: “Revival will call for much love and humility, because it may please God to use one man more extensively than another. The fleece of one denomination may appear to be wet with the dews of heaven while another is only damp with it. In some cases God may use the least gifted of men – at least some would so judge them – and in the least likely of churches find a channel for His grace. May God preserve us from a spirit which would prefer to see no revival at all if it did not come in our form, after our pattern, and through our instrumentality.” – John T. Carson

  10. Stephen says:

    A good antidote to bandwagons is doing what you and Ted Kluck wrote about in Why We Love the Church — join in covenant membership to a local church. Then roll up your sleeves and do the work of a “plodding visionary.” The sermons probably won’t be as inspiring as Piper or Keller, but that’s the place where Christians ordinarily grow in grace.

  11. Larry says:

    Thanks for the reminder Kevin. I have seen a huge rise in lay people (mostly young, single men) listening to podcasts, downloading sermons, reading great books etc. The problem that I continue to observe is that those people tend to be the least encourgaing and beneficial to the church. They seem to have all of the answers all of the time and enjoy dropping the names of books, sermons, and pastors they enjoy, but lack the ability to love people. They seem relationally stunted, distant, and univolved in the real life of people and the church. It is quite confusing to me. Sometime I feel sorry for the Pastors who are all godly, wise, and intelligent people – just not as smart and gifted as the top 1% like Piper, Driscoll etc.

  12. David Axberg says:

    Wacked it out of the Park. Homerun man thanks. Spring training right around the corner. God is looking for recruits and has found a winner with you brother. Keep on writing and blessing the snot out of us. Thanks Kevin.

  13. Terry says:

    If you start watching LOST, you will want to start at the beginning. Rent or buy the first season. Don’t watch tonight’s episode if it is your first. You won’t have a prayer of understanding it. Even those of us who have watched from the beginning don’t quite understand it. But we enjoy it.

  14. Fiona says:

    Amen! You have definitely hit the nail on the head, and I thank God for your words. It can be all too easy to get caught up with good teachers and good spiritual food that the whole point to it and focus gets overlooked. Why should we want, or even need to know more about God and His Word? May we seek Him first, and by seeking Him first, His Kingdom.

  15. Ken Eastburn says:

    This is really great, Kevin and I suspect that everyone has something to benefit by keeping their hearts in check on the trendy vs. anti-trendy spectrum.

    Most of us try to ride the trend so long as it is in our favor, lifting up our ideology, but I’m glad for folks like yourself who help remind us where our identity really lies.

  16. Joe says:

    Helpful post.

    It is sort of exhausting reading all these books about how to get everything just right. Getting the Gospel right, parenting right, relating rightly, doing missions just so, handling suffering like I should… It sometimes seems tone-wise like the Christian equivalent of some pumped up men’s magazine. But when I imagine people of the Bible, the reality seems very much more ordinary and not so turbo-charged. Believe, keep believing, reach out, obey, hang on,, see through a glass darkly….

    While Reformed literature is great, the proliferation of stuff on how to nail everything can seem like the theologically correct version of ‘Your Best Life Now.’ Good theology helps, but it helps to see life as the difficult thing it is, not as the happy distraction an awesomely fun trip to Seattle for LongBoarding undeniaby is.

  17. Chris Frick says:

    Pastors and organizations are only means used by God. Let’s also remember to only put our trust in God to work, and to not put our trust in people through whom God has worked in the past (though we hope he continues His work through them).

  18. Mike says:


    great post, thanks for it. It brings up a major question for me.

    Do you watch lost?

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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