Why Church is Not Cool

While many of our verbal shortcuts have gone the way of the Dodo, the word “cool” has somehow survived for decades. Once the word had escaped the orbit of jazz musicians and circulated in everyday life, it has displayed a remarkable resilience. There are cool cars, cool stores,

cool jeans, cool apps, and of course, cool kids.

But church is not cool. Why?

First, church is not cool because it’s not about you. As much as we are trying to make it about us, and transforming church gathering places into user-friendly coffee shops and malls, church is about God, and worship of God. There is a time and place for easy chairs and soft couches and amusement and cappuccino, all of which are cool. But they also are about us and our preferences. God is not, and church is about God. Not cool.

Second, church is not cool because it includes suffering. The prophets died for telling the truth, God’s people were hunted as criminals, and Jesus commanded His disciples to take up their own crosses and follow Him. This suffering is not masochism, co-dependency, or a product of low self-esteem. It reflects recognition that in spite of the world’s beauty, there is something fundamentally wrong with us and every society we’ve ever created. It hurts to say that, and that is why few ever do, choosing instead some form of self-righteousness, denial, or anesthetizing the pain with sex, drugs, and endless activity. Jesus says that the mournful are blessed, and the meek will inherit the earth, and let’s face it, mournful and meek are not cool.

Finally, church is not cool because it about Jesus. The real Jesus is not cool because He is not politically correct, and is untamed by our understated labels of “friend,” “good man,” or “wise teacher.” He is the unique Son of God and claimed to be God, and therefore the one Way to happiness and heaven. The Gospels reveal that such claims led to His crucifixion. He declared Himself Lord of all, and that kind of exclusivity is today identified as narrow, bigoted, hateful, intolerant, and unkind in any who answer His radical call. Not cool.

Church is what Jesus came to establish–not human institutions and beautiful buildings, and certainly not all that claims His name. Church is His people, His suffering-but-joyful sinner-saints who confess their sins, rest in His forgiveness, cling to His promises, and find satisfaction in Him, not what is cool.

“For the word of the cross is folly
to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:18

Leave a Reply