In Praise of the Boring, Uncool Church

"...things that are cool are ephemeral. What’s fashionable is, by the necessity of the rules of fashion, quickly obsolete. This is one of many reasons why chasing cool is a fool’s errand for churches and pastors, as I argue in my book Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide." - TGC 

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Aaron Blumer's picture

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Maybe boring, uncool, unabashedly churchy church is actually a good thing. 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....

It’s counterintuitive, though. In the moment, a large church crowded with 20-somethings—eager to hear the celebrity pastor’s sermon and enthusiastic in their singing of arena-rock worship songs—seems like an unassailable triumph. Because our metrics for success in the American church have for so long mirrored the metrics of market-driven capitalism (bigger is always better; audience is king), we assume if a “cool church” is packed to the gills with cool kids, it’s working.

But if it’s “working,” then why do so many of these “cool kids” end up deconstructing, leaving the faith, and quitting church within a decade?

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

WallyMorris's picture

Changes Fundamentalists sometimes make in their churches/ministries have often followed changes Evangelicals made years ago. Some Fundamentalists seek to be "cool" and "relevant" by making those changes in order to grow/save their churches. But apparently many of those changes haven't turned out so well. In  attempting to show how un-legalistic they are, some Fundamentalists are following the failed ideas of the Evangelicals.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Dave White's picture

Change is inevitable:

  • Church secretaries used to use Underwoods 
  • Churches used to have landlines
G. N. Barkman's picture

What?  Dave, are you saying that most churches don't have landlines?  We have three landlines, and I can't imagine how we could function without them.

G. N. Barkman

Don Johnson's picture

And I'm not giving it up! See if you can guess why...

(Area code) 365-1611

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Ed Vasicek's picture

In our area, most professing Christians go from one cool church to another.  They never seem to learn.  Although the thrust of this article is great, I am not sure that many moderns actually want a church that will give them what the really need.  What they want affirms them, and they would almost rather be dead than risk being bored (okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point).

The same issues we see in our churches are seen in our schools and society in general.  School now has to be fun. Work has to be fun.  You only don't have fun when you have no choice, and church is a choice.  This is not only a spiritual problem, but a psychological and sociological (and maybe even neurological) problem.   It is always hard when what people want in a church is not what they need in a church, and what they want is not what they need, but affirming of how they are (not what they should be).  You can argue these points from the Scripture, but a man convinced against his will is unconvinced still.

"The Midrash Detective"

Andrew K's picture

The problem with churches seeking to be "cool" and "fun" is that a church will never be as cool as e.g., a nightclub; or as fun as a ballgame.

Also unlike either, the church makes demands of you. Demands which may even be occasionally unpleasant.

The deconstruction happens when the kids who grew up in the church learn this and have no other rationale for remaining.

Paul Henebury's picture

I wholeheartedly agree with Ed here.  In our area in NorCal we had a rogue Calvary Chapel with big funding set up across town.  Some CC's are good, but this one is seeker-sensitive and entertainment based, with a hip pastor.  And low and behold, all these young "Christians" just appeared out of nowhere to attend!  I know I'm no spring chicken, but I have to ask why they never deemed it important to come to church and serve before the "cool" church showed up.  The answer is, I believe, that they are consumers who choose what THEY want.  Christianity is really all about them and their preferences.

I know I'm generalizing here, but I really think that if you preached to the consciences of these people they'd be gone as quickly as they appeared.     

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

WallyMorris wrote:

Changes Fundamentalists sometimes make in their churches/ministries have often followed changes Evangelicals made years ago. Some Fundamentalists seek to be "cool" and "relevant" by making those changes in order to grow/save their churches. But apparently many of those changes haven't turned out so well. In  attempting to show how un-legalistic they are, some Fundamentalists are following the failed ideas of the Evangelicals.

Sometimes church leaders are--I'm exaggerating for the point--looking at a corpse, noticing pale skin and an icky fragrance and thinking "we need makeup and air freshener! That will fix everything!!"  But the real problems are deeper. Sometimes doctrinal, sometimes 'affectional.' If the church is full of people who just really don't care about you, it won't matter how much cool it layers on that. If it's a place where you're loved, a whole lot of 'that was so 2010' or even 'that was so 1910' won't hurt it a whole lot.  (But what if you can be loving, doctrinally meaty, and also not conspicuously 'used to be trendy'?)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.