why the church should care about top gear

17 06 2015

With Chris Evans revealed as new Top Gear presenter – the world’s worst kept broadcasting secret especially if you watched TFI Friday – that pillar of blokey TV and payer of Dave’s bills is back on the front pages.

Groan, you may. 

I know a lot of people who don’t care about Top Gear. It is derided as chauvinistic, childish, sometimes offensive and often simply irrelevant. A friend of mine tweeted that they had ‘no interest at all in who is or is not presenting a show about motorised toys.’

The trouble is, Top Gear is massive. Globally. Especially in a certain demographic. And that demographic happens to match the one that the church consistently fails to reach. 

Men.

So perhaps we should think a little about what makes Top Gear so popular. After all, it’s got no sex, no girls, virtually no swearing. It’s loved by children and their dads. And granddads. It’s not exactly wholesome, but it’s not Game of Thrones either.

Popular Thing Number One – Humour
Love them or loathe them, the main thing that made it work – and the challenge for Chris Evans and his new team, which will include a female presenter – is that the presenter chemistry worked. They were mates, they were funny; they did cheeky banter, they took the mick out of each other. Yes it was scripted, to a point, but we know that. Humour goes a long way in a making something essentially not very interesting to most people – a new car – into something interesting. Church leaders have a lot to learn from that. It’s not about that scripted sermon joke, but about relaxing, playing to your strengths, seeing the comedy around you.

Popular Thing Number Two – Normal Language
But perhaps more importantly for us, they talked about cars in the way most normal men talk about cars. For a bit, in not too much detail, with enough to satisfy car geeks but not too too much to alienate the casual watcher. For a preacher with a mixed audience of new Christians who don’t know a Hosea from a horsepower, to church geeks who need the original Greek quoted in every sentence, it’s a tightrope we walk all the time. To talk about faith in a way normal people talk about it. Ditch the hifalutin language and church-speak and ridiculous outfits.

Popular Thing Number Three – Humour (again)
The presenters were experts who didn’t take themselves too seriously. Experts? Well, they knew more than me, they could fix stuff, break stuff, make stuff. But they could laugh about it. They knew they were geeks, and it didn’t matter. We church leaders can take ourselves so seriously sometimes. In our suits or robes with pious words and an air of superiority, when actually people  – not just men – relate to us being normal, laughing at ourselves, admitting our mistakes, knowing when we’re being dull because we love the subject but no-one else cares… 

So perhaps instead of dismissing the most popular TV programme for our missing demographic – blokes and their sons – we should pay attention. Maybe there’s more to learn that we thought.

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3 responses

18 06 2015
Adam Gompertz

Good article, check this out

https://www.facebook.com/pages/REVS-Classic-and-Sportscar-Event/1430912457174565

A car event, run by a petrol head Vicar, who was once a former car designer. Its all about bringing people together, making relationships, showing God’s love through generosity, and seeing some rather nice cars as well…..

18 06 2015
Kathryn F

Thank you Kevin! I actually have to admit to being a 40-something woman who also sort-of loves TG & who got her teenage sons (& for carefully-vetted episodes, her pre-teen daughter!) into it. It’s silly, it’s fun, it’s provocative at times & it gives us a lot to chat about as a family. Even Clarkson’s ‘moment’ gave us plenty to talk about over the moral dilemma the BBC faced in deciding what to do. I just wish all talks in churches gave us as many laughs or as much to think about & talk about afterwards…

19 06 2015
fireflyby

Kevin! So long as I don’t have to watch Clarkson’s relentlessly irritating attempts to do stuff he is too old to do, and hear his patronising comments, I’m happy… Even if Chris is now on EVERYTHING.

(Must admit to finding Clarkson witty – which irritates me even more…)

Sorry for unintelligent comment. Just having a little rant…

firefly

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