Here we are in a new town and we have an ominous task before us: finding a new church. Oh, the dreaded church search. How I hate thee. “Shopping” for a new church is like shopping for that one piece of clothing you have in your head – for example, a pair of tan corduroy pants with wide legs and a snug top. Chances are, you will never find just what you are looking for, no matter how many stores you search, and you will inevitably end up settling for something vaguely similar, like off white corduroys with a bootleg cut and a too-stretchy top that will irritate you every time you wear them. I know from experience. I have yet to find my corduroys.
You may ask: is it such a big deal to spend an hour and a half on a Sunday morning trying out a new church? The answer is: yes. Yes it is. I don’t even have the patience to sit through a lame movie, let alone listen to some preacher rearrange, ignore, and trans-obliterate the Word of God.
But one of the things I really hope to avoid is the “cool” church. Call me “uncool” but I am just over this whole trend of “Rock Star Jesus”.
It’s understandable why this is a growing trend. Non-Christians don’t want to hear the gospel anymore. They’ve hardened their hearts to it. Why would they be interested in wasting their Sunday mornings going to sit in some uncomfortable pews and wearing uncomfortable clothes and hearing about hell and damnation and why they are bad people? Well, why would they? Church really isn’t a place for people who don’t believe in the salvation of the Lord. Church is a place for Christians to go and hear a preacher, hopefully somebody who spends most of his time studying the Word of God and knows a lot more about it than the average joe, teach them about it. A shepherd leading a flock.
So how to convince these rebellious people to go to church, to get saved? Make it cool! No pews, no suits. In fact, wear ripped jeans and holey t-shirts (not the same thing as “holy” t-shirts)! Give them a God they can relate to! If Jesus has dreadlocks and guyliner, that makes him relatable to this generation, right? Somebody who they could have a beer with and rock out with? Hey, it’s a Pastor who uses foul language! Radical! Talk less about sin, and more about love! Who doesn’t love being loved? It’s hard to be against a God who doesn’t judge, only loves.
Just one little thing: Jesus is not like us. He looked like us while He was here on earth, but that was about it. It’s not okay to bring Him down to our level and act like He is just “one of the guys”. I’ve hung around “the guys” and I would never, ever, ever worship any of those repulsive creatures, so why would I worship Jesus if He was like them? Jesus is God, perfect in every way, a sinless sacrifice for all of us sinful creatures.
The whole reason we love Jesus is because we see how sinful we are, and we understand what He did for us by putting Himself in our place on that cross. His sacrifice was not “cool”, it was absolutely necessary. And God does judge. He will judge everybody who chooses to deny Him and His salvation. It’s not cool to tell people, “You know, the Bible says if you reject Him, He will reject you.” Talk about being shut out of the popular group forever!.
A business partner of Justin’s, a young, newly-married Californian dude, helps out in the youth ministry at his church. He was telling Justin that he really wanted to make Christianity appeal to these young people and he was trying to figure out a way to show them why it’s cool to accept Christ as their savior. He thought about it a lot as the days went on, and then he realized, “I don’t need to sell Christianity! The gospel sells itself! If anything, being a Christian is totally ‘uncool’!” So his new plan was to tell these kids to come next Wednesday and find out why it’s totally radical to be a Christian, and come Wednesday he was going to tell them the truth, and nothing but the truth. Amen, brother.
The first churches didn’t reach people by offering free hula-hoop lessons in order to manipulate them into going to their church. I’m going to take a wild guess and assume they didn’t host beer-brewing classes in the sanctuary either (talk about a stumbling block to those struggling with alcoholism! Yikes!). They talked to people about their sin and their need for Jesus. Call me old-fashioned, but I actually enjoy going to church and being taught straight out of the Bible, verse by verse, learning what God thinks is awesome, not what man thinks is awesome.
“But are these gimmicks really going to bring young people back to church? Is this what people really come to church for? Maybe sex sermons and indie- rock worship music do help in getting people in the door, and maybe even in winning new converts. But what sort of Christianity are they being converted to?” Excerpt from The Wall Street Journal blog post The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity by Brett McCracken
Father, what has happened to Your church? What are we doing with Your Word, with our “ideas” of You? I don’t want to be judgmental against the people that truly are worshipping you, but I pray that in the end, nothing distracts us from worshipping the real You. Get a hold of Your church and give us a good shake, Lord. Plant us firm on the true foundation of Your Word. Lord, I know from experience that often the bigger the church, the smaller presence You have there. Bless the churches that are genuinely teaching You, and let them grow like a sponge, filled with the Living Water. Thank you for making it so easy for us to study the Scriptures on our own and to learn for ourselves whether what we are being taught in church is according to Your Word.