For those who care about the future of the church this Wall Street Journal article by Brett McCracken is worth reading: The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity. All of us are familiar with churches whose worship services feature bands, jugglers, and other forms of litur-tainment, and whose pastors seek to be cool, from a pop-culture perspective. It’s not restricted to North America either, as the skateboarding priest Joe Carter referenced below indicates.
Here’s McCracken, a 27-year-old professing evangelical:
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?
In his book, The Courage to Be Protestant, David Wells writes: “The born-again, marketing church has calculated that unless it makes deep, serious cultural adaptations, it will go out of business, especially with the younger generations. What it has not considered carefully enough is that it may well be putting itself out of business with God.
“And the further irony,” he adds, “is that the younger generations who are less impressed by whiz-bang technology, who often see through what is slick and glitzy, and who have been on the receiving end of enough marketing to nauseate them, are as likely to walk away from these oh-so-relevant churches as to walk into them.”
If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that “cool Christianity” is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don’t want cool as much as we want real.
If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it’s easy or trendy or popular. It’s because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It’s because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched—and we want an alternative. It’s not because we want more of the same.
McCracken’s book on this subject is called Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide and is published by Baker.