This Week

  • Sunday: 10:00 Worship; Making Peace Seminar: 11:00
  • Monday @ 5:30 p.m.: Girl Scouts
  • Tuesday Bible Study: @ Jeremiah’s, 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 11 a.m. Spiritual Council; 1 p.m. Outreach
  • AA Meetings: in the Parish Hall:
    • Tuesdays, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. – Discussion
    • Wednesdays, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Big Book
    • Fridays 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Discussion

Making Peace Seminar!

Sunday: session 11 of a 12-week video series by Jim Van Yperen based on his book, Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict. Meetings, Sunday mornings, 11:00 a.m.

Boring, Uncool Church

By Brett McCracken

It seems almost every “leader of Christian cool”—whether a tattooed celebrity pastor or a buzzy nightclub church—flames out and loses its footing fairly quickly. Which is not at all surprising. By their very nature, things that are cool are ephemeral. What’s fashionable is, by the necessity of the rules of fashion, quickly obsolete.

This is one of many reasons why chasing cool is a fool’s errand for churches and pastors, as I argue in my book Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide. If you prioritize short-term trendiness, your ministry impact will likely be short-lived. If you care too much about being “relatable” and attractive to the fickle tastes of any given generation or cultural context, the transcendence of Christianity and the prophetic power of the gospel will be shrunk and shaped to the contours of the zeitgeist. Relevance-focused Christianity sows the seeds of its own obsolescence. It’s a bad idea. It rarely ends well.

Lament and Learn

It’s tragic to see churches fail. We don’t rejoice over this. We should lament and learn.

What are the lessons?

For one, these headlines ought to remind us that relevance is no substitute for reverence and indeed may compromise it. The Christian life shouldn’t be oriented around being liked; it should be oriented around loving God and loving others. Far more important than being fashionable is being faithful. Far more crucial than keeping up with the Joneses is staying rooted in God’s unchanging Word. Relevance is no substitute for reverence and indeed may compromise it.

Things like confession and repentance, daily obedience to the whole counsel of Scripture, and quiet commitment to spiritual disciplines aren’t cutting edge and won’t land you in a GQ profile about “hypepriests.” But these are the things that make up a healthy, sustainable, “long obedience in the same direction” faith. And with every hip church that closes and celebrity pastor who falls, more and more Christians are hopefully waking up to this fact.

Maybe boring, uncool, unabashedly churchy church is actually a good thing. Maybe a Christianity that doesn’t appeal to my consumer preferences and take its cues from Twitter is exactly the sort of faith I need.

Short-Term Success, Long-Term Failure

It’s counterintuitive, though. In the moment, a large church crowded with 20-somethings—eager to hear the celebrity pastor’s sermon and enthusiastic in their singing of arena-rock worship songs—seems like an unassailable triumph. Because our metrics for success in the American church have for so long mirrored the metrics of market-driven capitalism (bigger is always better; audience is king), we assume if a “cool church” is packed to the gills with cool kids, it’s working.

But if it’s “working,” then why do so many of these “cool kids” end up deconstructing, leaving the faith, and quitting church within a decade? I’ve seen it too often. The long-term outcomes for the hipster church movement are abysmal. There are many reasons why deconstruction is surging among millennial Christians, but I’m convinced one big cause is that the “relevant” churches that reared these kids set them on a flimsy faith foundation. Instead of being firmly rooted in the old, old story, their churches framed faith in terms of the new. Instead of being called to holiness, their churches called them to relevance. Instead of being steeped in doctrine, robust ecclesiology, and theological orthodoxy, they were steeped in moralistic therapeutic deism. The long-term results speak for themselves. (…to be continued…)

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