Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cool Churches Are Empty Churches: The Wall Street Journal Wakes Us Up

The Wall Street Journal has an article that is a must read for every Christian and church leader to read and seriously think about.  Here's the issue:  are cool churches growing and making a difference, or considered foolish and irrelevant?  Two things will empty a church:  liberalism and pursuing relevancy.

The article is entitled The Perils of Hipster Christianity and Why Young Evangelicals Reject Churches That Try to Be Cool. A smaller title is "The Perils of 'Wannabe Cool' Christianity.  As the titles suggest, churches that are spending their time wearing trendy jeans and doing sermon series on how to have better sex are being rejected by young people in droves.  In other words, relevancy makes us irrelevant.

Brett McCracken, the article's author, gives ample evidence on the subject.  It is at this point that we must ask ourselves if we are falling for this trap.  Will we grow simply because we change our style of music?  Will we explode because we look trendy?  Will the culture love us and want to hear us if we change our message?  The answer is an emphatic no.  Our effort to be more like the culture corrupts and strangles the gospel.

No amount of messy games with the youth will make the gospel more powerful.  No drum set will make the gospel more affective.  No holes in the pastors and staff's jeans will make the Holy Spirit move more.  If the gospel is transcendent, then music, clothes, tattoos, games, technology, and jokes will have no affect on the power and reception of the gospel.

As a guy who worked exclusively with youth for a half a decade, I have found that being "cool" is more ineffective than being honest.  Let's be honest.  If I wanted to play games, I would stay home and turn on the Playstation, not go to church.  If I want to learn about the mechanics of sex, I would wait for lunch at school, not go to church.  If I want to be entertained, I would go to the movies, not go to church.  And yet many Christians and churches have fallen for this trap.  Hear the evidence.  Pursuing relevancy makes us irrelevant.

So where do we go from here?  No where.  We stand firmly on the gospel.  Instead of debating music styles or cultural trends, let us proclaim with boldness the gospel of Jesus Christ and only the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Unless we look to the cross and preach the resurrection to everyone including ourselves, we will be irrelevant because we are without the Holy Spirit. 

In other words, preach Christ and when we're done, preach Christ again.

Brian McCracken (The Wall Street Journal) - The Perils of 'Wannabe Cool' Christianity  

For more:
Commentary - Accomodationism Breed Irrelevancy:  Why Liberalism Fails and the Transcendent Gospel Triumphs  
Sermons - November 29, 2009:  The Transcendence of the Gospel  
Goshen - Are We Contemporvant? 
Goshen - "Christ, Christ Baby!":  Why I Do Not Seek to Be Relevant 
Reviews - "Do Hard Things"  
Theology - Mohler:  Youth Ministry in a New Key?  Substance Over Sugar-Coating 
Theology - Lets Get Back to Ministry:  When Entertainment Creeps into the Church 
Theology - Old Enough to Know Better. But I'm Still Too Young To Care 
Reviews - "Start Right Here"
Reviews - "Already Gone

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