Superheroes & Your Church with Dan Stanford
Thanks for joining us for another episode of the unSeminary podcast. I think this will be a bit of a change of pace and so I’m excited to be here with Senior Pastor Dan Stanford from The Well Church in Wisconsin.
The Well started as a church plant with twelve people in a living room to getting their own building a year ago, and now they run two services and a lot of new things are happening. Dan is with us today to talk about comic book superheroes and what are they doing to our culture today, and how ordinary people can be heroes for God.
- The draw of the cape. // Because superhero movies have become so prevalent, one sociologist referred to us as a “comic book nation.” Marvel has just released its fifth million dollar movie, Black Panther passed Titanic for the third highest grossing movie nationally, and Infinity War has already set records for highest pre-sale tickets. The first superhero came out in 1938 so even though they have picked up steam now, superheroes have been around for a long time. In the era of the first superheroes, as a nation we were coming out of the Great Depression and beginning to face Nazi Germany, and so the idea of a man who was indestructible and could face anything was very appealing. We’re facing a strained and troubling political climate today, and that could be leading to the draw of superheroes in our society now.
- Perfection and transparency. // Some talk about the characters in superhero stories being either an idealized version of ourselves or otherwise that part of us that we fear the most. Dan believes that whenever as a culture we feel out of control, we look for control in our entertainment. We look for someone to follow as that moral superior and that is the draw of superheroes. As church leaders though, we shouldn’t think we need to appear invincible or infallible. Older pastors lived with the idea that they had to show this perfect side of themselves to everyone. But today younger pastors need to be more comfortable with transparency and struggle, which oftentimes gains us more respect from people. Christ is the only ideal example – the rest of us have weaknesses, and that’s ok. We need to be aware of our weaknesses, an allow God to use us in spite of them, rather than try to hide them.
- Encourage ordinary superheroes. // We tend to look toward the top 1% or 2% to save our world—the celebrities, the billionaires, the megachurch pastors. But God uses the 98% – those ordinary people who would be overlooked and who leaned on Him for help and strength in order to do great things. The disciples were ordinary men, but they had been with Jesus. We see the tremendous impact they had. It wasn’t because they were superheroes, it was because they leaned into Jesus and He used their ordinary-ness. Look for the ordinary heroes in your church: The older lady on a fixed income who puts money aside for a mission; the college student who works at a soup kitchen. We pray for God to change our circumstances when we should be praying for Him to change our perspective in order to see our small, ordinary acts as great things.
You can reach Dan or learn more about his book Losing the Cape: The Power of Ordinary in a World of Superheroes at www.danstanford.net. You can learn more about The Well Church at www.yourwellchurch.org.
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Helpful Tech Tools // Text in Church
Ministries Following // Feed My Starving Children
Influential Book //Simple Church by Thom S. Rainer & Eric Geiger
Inspiring Leader // Andy Stanley
What you do for fun // Watch Marvel & DC movies