5/29-6/4/2022

Boring, Uncool Church (…continued)

By Brett McCracken

Faithful > Cool

For those who were part of churches like this, you are right to be jaded. It’s no wonder you’re deconstructing. But there’s a better way.

Instead of the cool church full of people who look like models, find the most faithful church full of people who are growing to look like Jesus.

Instead of the church where everyone shares the same tastes in style and music, find the church where everyone shares a passion for Jesus, his Word, and pursuing holiness.

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.

Instead of the church with the most charismatic celebrity pastor (who you’ll likely never meet), find the church where Jesus is the biggest star and the pastor is a humble, approachable, low-profile guy with a long track record of integrity in life and ministry.

Instead of the church of “reinvented” or “fresh” Christianity, where discontinuity with the past is a virtue (“We’re not your grandma’s church!”), find one where Christian history and tradition are known and celebrated—where continuity with the past is treasured.

Instead of the church that caters to your comfort, always affirming but never challenging you, find one where you’ll be uncomfortable in a way that pushes you to grow, a church where holiness is more important than a “seeker-sensitive” experience.

This last one has been especially transformative in my own faith—which I wrote about in my book Uncomfortable. Once we embrace the inevitable awkwardness, discomfort, and cost of Christian discipleship, we won’t be surprised by challenges at church. We’ll stick with local church life even when it’s hard, and thus we’ll have a better chance to grow. Once we embrace the uncool but beautiful reality of the local church, our faith will likely become more gritty and sustainable.

Ecclesial Health After Sickly Cool

This is consistent with feedback I’ve received from readers—often former hipsters—over the years when I’ve written on “cool church” issues. They share how their faith has thrived more in uncool, not-hype churches. Just last week I received this message:

Sadly most of my friends who sought to be a part of “cool Christianity” have walked away from God. . . . I’m probably in the most “boring” church I’ve ever been a part of, but have never felt more loved as part of a church family, had as solid teaching, and grown the most in my faith as a result of it.

Another reader wrote:

My desire for ‘cool church’ was like an add-on to the gospel. Jesus wasn’t enough, so my church social circle had to also make me feel better about myself.

These testimonies are encouraging. While some veterans of “cool churches” end up deconstructing or quitting church entirely, others come to see that being the Bride of Christ is beautiful and worth it, even if she’s dressed in a frumpy Kohl’s frock rather than the latest runway couture.

In a world of dizzyingly disposable trends, so much seems to collapse as quickly as it arrives: brands, celebrities, movements, institutions, ideas. When we misconstrue faith as just another thing in the consumerist stew, it too becomes a flash-in-the-pan fashion, as fragile and fickle as the latest viral trend on TikTok.

The life of Christian faith should be altogether different: a long obedience, a slow burn, a quiet diligence to pursue Jesus faithfully, with others in community, in good times and bad, for better or for worse. Will this form of plodding, old-fashioned Christianity go viral on Instagram or get featured in GQ? Probably not. But it will actually grow Christians to maturity and help them run a long, steady, and fruitful race, as it has for countless saints over two millennia. I pray that I—and you, too—will be counted among them.

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