Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Am Done with "Cool" Church

I am through with "cool" church. It has taken me so long to come to that conclusion. Every time church leaders are in a conference, seminar, or just visiting over coffee, the subject of how to make our ministries more cool always comes up. The ideas of modern technology begin to permeate the levels of communication. Use of videos, screens, lights, sets constructed for sermon series, worship leaders in jeans, drums, smoke machines, ATMs, data ports in the pews, WIFI, elephants, Carrot Top doing comedy, and others aspects have become this generation's talk of how to conduct church.

Utilizing modern tech support in presenting the Gospel message is always wonderful. God has gifted this generation with a vast array of weaponry in order to reach the ones outside of the Kingdom stockholders. The reason I am done with "cool" is because in so many instances nowadays, "cool" has replaced Christ. AND, my friends that are outside the faith or have been hurt by religion seem to criticize the worldly relevance of church services as opposed to what their hearts long for...just Jesus.

Creating atmospheres with lights and sound and basing that importance as higher than the power of God is the cardinal sin of our Church generation. People in today's world are desperately reaching, not just upward, but backward. As one friend of mine said recently, "I can go to a concert anytime I want. IF I do go to church, I want Jesus."

Tullian Tchividjian says in his book, Unfashionable, "It's not that the Church is culturally out of touch; it's that we are theologically out of tune." I realize this because I have tried to get into the "cool" mode, and I fell flat. I have even tried to strike up relationships with the "cool", cutting-edge leaders in certain areas when I am speaking, and they want nothing to do with fellowship. WHY? Does my breath stink? Am I not metro-sexual enough in my dress code? NO! My ministry is not relevant enough. I sweat, yell, and entangle the audience in a road trip through the text in order to initiate a "now" response to the message in which the Holy Spirit can interrupt at anytime, as well as heal broken hearts. I don't appear tech savvy, I guess. And I am "cool" with that.

Our culture is not so much weary of institutions as they are skeptical of the ones that do not do what they are supposed to do. What scares me is that, as the Old Testament prophet says, we are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. Knowledge leads to wisdom, and wisdom leads to the making of decisions based on the freshness of the move of God's Spirit, rather than "coolness" of presentation. When the size of God grips us more than the size of our lighting rigs and tech toys, only then will we be able to serve as God's cosmic change agents.

My heart breaks for those who have never experienced a move of God based on the supernatural moving of the Spirit, and nothing else. God can use everything we have in this modern generation, but He has no problem using nothing but a willing heart. He has been wooing the hearts of mankind for thousands of years, without any "coolness" in the mix. He is all you need to reach a hurting generation. If Jesus is lifted up, HE does the drawing of a man's soul. May I never forget that.

So, I will just go back this year to the basics, and if I appear "cool", great! If I do not, it does not matter. Because today's cool is tomorrow's "lame." Be who you are, and I think God can worry about the cool stuff on HIs own...

8 comments:

Jim Anderson said...

Hey Bro.,
Great blog. I totally agree. I love the way you quote my man Mr. Tchvidjian. Bet most people don't know about his awesome theology or that he's married to Billy's daughter. I agree, Jesus does the drawing, and if it were not for that, none of us would accept his grace. Absolutely NONE! Love ya man. Keep preachin...

Cindy said...

I love to be entangled in the text of the Bible and you lead us so well on that road trip:) Cool or uncool doesn't matter when you are comfortable in your own skin as God made you to be.

David Gallimore said...

Excellent post Brady. There is so much excessive contextualization in our churches in these days, that it is almost sickening. Everything from the hairstyle, to the dress, and yes even the motorcycle exhibition going on behind the pulpit. Yes, I may seem a bit opinionated (and harsh)in this area, but I for one believe in the power of almighty God to draw the lost by the Holy Spirit to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I've heard it said many times, "what draws someone to the church, is what's going to keep them there". So, unless that something is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the rest is just pointless entertainment. That being said, I do believe that technology and such does provide us with a useful tools to reach the lost and enhance the preaching and teaching ministries of our churches, but must not be misused in the place of what we know is right and true. We need to always remember that being "cool" is always just one generation from being "uncool".

Derek Steed said...

Amen. I've been to far too many churches that felt like an episode of American Idol. Technology is a great tool - but just a tool. The message is what makes the difference. Thanks for saying all this. There are a lot who need to hear it!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you total. We get so caught up in fitting in and how appealing we can be. That we leave Christ out of our services and daily lives.

adambigc said...

Excellent point Brady. I love technology and unashamedly use it; however, when Peter preached the first sermon after the ascension of Christ is wasn't a nice sanctuary and good lighting that broke the hearts of man, it was the power of the Spirit! Nothing will ever take His spot!
~AC

Bill said...

Was just having this discussion (via email, since I'm cool) with a fellow follower who directed me here. The topic was "worship music or performance", which speaks to the quote about concerts and church and the battle between the two, or one becoming the other.

I am a member of the oldest Presbyterian church in Alabama and we sometimes wear that distinction as a badge of honor and sometimes as one of shame. Watching the tug of war over what we are (or are not) regarding worship is interesting and surprisingly in a place like ours, not separated along generational lines.

In short, your struggle with worship is something many of us are dealing with and since I no longer believe in coincidences, this must be something so important that God is bringing these questions to us in ever-increasing frequency.

Thanks for writing. I'm off to rehearse for my acoustic, decidedly non-performance set tonight.

Dean Lusk said...

Hmmm... I thought I'd posted a comment, but it isn't showing up. I was the one that commenter Bill was discussing this stuff with. :-)

Perhaps I shouldn't have laced my comment with profanity...? Oh, wait, I didn't. Blogger may have eaten it. Or I went so far off-topic that it wasn't relevant. (The last is the most likely scenario, I think.)

Regardless, I really appreciate this post and agree with your observations and conclusions.