I'm a Netflix subscriber so from time to time I'll surf through their selection of streaming videos to see if I can find anything good (I usually can't). Once in a while I'll look through the Anime movies as I've enjoyed a few sci-fi Anime movies in the past.
It's hard to tell if a movie is any good so I spend time reading the Netflix member reviews. And as I surfed the Anime movies I kept seeing sentences like this in the reviews:
Great movie if you can live with all the fan service.Reading reviews like this I wondered to myself, "What in the world is fan service?"
Lots of fan service if you're into that.
Awesome! Tons of fan service!!!!!
Fan service, I discovered, are things added to Anime movies to titillate viewers, generally male viewers. Fan service is "giving the fans what they want." For the most part this means drawing female Anime characters with large breasts and short skirts. It also includes nudity and graphic violence.
What is key here is that none of this has any relevance to the plot. It's just "eye candy" to push the visual buttons of the viewer. It's "servicing the fan," not advancing the story. Here's the current top Urban Dictionary definition of fan service:
In general, fan service refers to scenes designed to excite or titillate the viewer...Basically, if it has little plot-redeeming value, but makes the viewer sit up and take notice, it's probably fan service in one form or another.Having found all this out I can now navigate Netflix in a more informed manner, generally staying clear of movies with reviews mentioning a lot of fan service.
But fan service as a concept has stuck in my mind.
And the other day I began to wonder about fan service at church.
To be clear, I'm not talking about nudity and short skirts at church. I'm talking about the root idea of fan service: adding something that "pleases" (servicing the fans, giving the people what they want) that has nothing to do with advancing the plot.
Let me give a simple example. In the adult bible class I help teach on Sunday mornings at church we have coffee and donuts. That's fan service. People like having coffee and donuts in class so we provide them. But coffee and donuts don't have anything to do with the mission of the church. Coffee and donuts don't help advance the story/plot of the Kingdom of God.
Now there is nothing wrong with coffee and donuts. I sure like having them both in class. I'm just illustrating how the concept of fan service might be applied to church. Such an application opens up a lot of interesting questions. Specifically, how much of church life is devoted to fan service? How much of the physical environment, the worship, the programs/classes, etc. can be considered fan service? That is, how much of what is going on at a given church is devoted to "giving the people what they want" rather than advancing the story of the Kingdom?
Because it seems to me that a lot of churches are so beholden to American consumerism that they are almost wholly given over to fan service, if only to attract the "spiritual shopper."
Everything is created to give the people what they want. Church as fan service.