There have always been cool churches. Almost forty years ago, when I first started in ministry, the cool churches had bus ministries.
Then the cool churches sang praise choruses.
Then the cool churches used drums and guitars.
Then the cool churches had small groups.
Then the cool churches used video clips from popular movies in their sermons.
Then the cool churches had preachers who wore jeans and left their shirttails out.
Then the cool churches started calling themselves “missional.”
Then the cool churches decided to create a brand.
Then the cool churches started satellite campuses.
Then the cool churches gave themselves esoteric names like “Shift” or “Mosaic” or “Strive.”
Then the cool churches started Tweeting and launched their own apps.
Then the cool churches became very edgy, talking about homosexuality and sex and pot and anything else that might cause the old folks to blush and the young folks to slap high fives.
Sometimes I wonder if we try too hard to be cool and not hard enough to be holy. One of the “coolest” preachers of this generation, Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill Church), recently published an apology for, basically, trying to be too cool. By his own admission, his integrity sagged and his vision blurred as he placed too much importance on his image and not enough on his walk with Christ.
I’m convinced that Christianity was never intended to be cool. Relevant, yes. But not cool. True Christianity, it seems to me, should be decidedly uncool in the sense that it doesn’t fit with the pop culture mindset. It should seem odd, out of step, and sometimes downright weird. It should produce snickers and punch lines. It should make some people uncomfortable. We should be thought of as “peculiar people.” Wasn’t the Lord we serve the Stone the builders rejected?
That’s not to say we shouldn’t use technology and preach on relevant topics, and if that makes a church seem cool to some, so be it. It’s not cool I object to, it’s trying to be cool. I can’t help wondering if our obsession with being cool has left us with full auditoriums and empty hearts. I keep reading that the morality of church goers isn’t much different from that of unbelievers…that church goers cohabitate, look at porn and get buried in credit card debt at just about the same rate as nonchurch goers.
Could it be that our desire to be cool keeps us chasing after that which is constantly changing, when God has called us to chase after that which never changes?