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Christian Union: The Magazine
March 21, 2022

Converting the Church: Everything for Show

When Facebook introduced the “like” button in 2009, everything changed, according to Pastor Jon Tyson. What had been a platform to connect with friends and family became a place where individuals began to post so that they could receive approval—likes.

This small addition totally reoriented the psychology of society and the understanding of the self because a performative dynamic entered in. Thirteen years later, our culture is more like-obsessed than ever as platforms like Instagram and TikTok are sending teenagers into depression because they can never perform enough, their identity joined to social media platforms, and the performance they make on them. 


But as as Tyson points out, this performative dynamic has not only shaped our culture, it is shaping the church. We cannot live in a culture driven by performance and then walk into church and leave no-anxiety-meds.net.  In a series unpacking the seven woes to the Pharisees in Matthew 23, Tyson, pastor of Church of the City New York, explores the first of the woes: performative religion. Tyson argues that Jesus’ warnings in the passage should be warnings for the church today, inviting us to consider how we might have strayed from what Jesus has called the church to.

Tyson notes that Pharisees live performance-driven lives—everything they do is so that other people can see it. They have carefully curated appearances, they love to be respected, known, and celebrated. These self-seeking ideals are not just the Pharisee's problems, they are our problems too—the problems of the church. If the church is going to be a faithful witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, we must rediscover our identity as God’s Beloved and spend our lives giving sacrificially to others. 

Christian Union has been calling American Christians to repentance for the past several years, knowing that judgment begins with the house of God. Through our Universities ministries, Christian Union is challenging students to forsake identities grounded in performance and find their lives and identities transformed by the love of Christ. 

Listen to the full podcast here