I was reading a blog the other day and while I'm not sure I agree with some of it, there was an idea embedded in there that got my wheels a-turnin':
"You don’t have to go to a “cool” church with a name like “Revolution” or “The Rock” or “Journey” or “The River.” Your plain ol’ First Presbyterian or First Baptist or First United Methodist will do."
While I acknowledge that a church's name has little to do with what's truly, deeply on the "inside," the comment made me wonder... Is it okay for Christians to be cool?
I mean, as Christians, we're called to be aliens; to be in, but not of, this world. We're told that people will know us by our love for one another. I haven't seen a Bible verse that says, "They will know you by your stylish Christian t-shirts, your fancy light shows, your rockin' praise team and entertaining messages."
I think that somehow the American church has been sidetracked with being attractive to the world. Jesus said that people would hate us because we followed Him. So why has "being cool" become so incredibly important?
We call it being "seeker friendly." But it seems to me that using the media budget to take care of the widows and the orphans would do a lot more to attract people to Jesus than awesome sound equipment or a children's ministry that looks like Disneyland.
We say we want a place where our non-believing friends will feel "comfortable." But do you think, just maybe, that we like going to a "cool church" because we won't be embarrassed to take our friends there? Because our church really doesn't look that different than the concert they went to last Saturday night? (And trust me, when I say "we," I am including myself, because I have had this thought.)
Why do we even care about being cool? (Besides the obvious - that we are, in fact, human.)
Now, I am definitely for Christians representing Christ in a positive, Biblical way. I like using media and the arts to teach people about God and I think we should do it with excellence. What I see as a problem is that our churches today seem to be focused so heavily on the cool-factor.
What would Jesus think of our modern architecture and cutting-edge videos? Would He nod at our creative genius and brilliant marketing strategies before turning to look at the world's 132 million orphans with tears in His eyes?
Even as I type this, I keep thinking, Oh man, if I post this it's going to really offend some people and then they won't like me and won't think I'm cool anymore.
Oh. Now hold on just a-hypocritical-minute!
If I want to be counter-cultural and make even a dent in hopelessness of this world, I've got to be different. And a whole lot of the time, being different makes you very not cool.
Now, I'm not saying we need to go out of our way to be completely and utterly lame. After-all, our love for God and others should exude a certain kind of vibrance. I'm not saying that we shouldn't use our talents or creativity for God. And I'm certainly not trying to generalize here. But just imagine the difference we could make if we weren't so concerned with being popular... or rather, if we were concerned with being popular for all the right reasons. Maybe being cool in the world's eyes isn't having the best facilities, clever t-shirts, etc. Maybe being Jesus to the world is cool. Jesus was hated by hypocrites and we will be too. But to those with eyes to see, He was cool...in a different sort of way.
I'll leave you with these verses:
"If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." - John 15:19
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." -James 1:27
"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." - 1 John 3:17-18
So here is the big Q4U- Do you think that Christians/churches should be cool by the world's standard?