Maybe I am just getting old. I have nothing against contemporary churches with contemporary music. I am the Pastor of one. You will be hard pressed to find a musician in our church over 25. We dress casual and we serve coffee and donuts in the lobby. We have planning meetings in coffee shops. I’m not opposed to relevance.
But, we are not a “cool” church. Let’s face it. There may be some people in our church who are cool. But, that is not our defining characteristic.
To begin with we are not a “cool” church because the Pastor is not cool. I’m in my mid fifties. I was going to say middle aged, but since I’m probably not going to live to be 108 I am not middle aged any more. I don’t have any tattoos, and I won’t be getting any. I’m not going to start using profanity or smoking cigars in order “to relate.” I refuse to do a series on Enhancing Your Sex Life, How To Get a Hot Spouse, Jesus Just Wants to be Your Friend, or any other such shallow nonsense. We won’t be giving away door prizes at Easter just to get people to come to church. I will not limit my sermon illustrations to the Kardashians and Rhianna. I am going to quote Bonheoffer and Buechner and Craddock even if many in the congregation don’t know who they are. I will teach them. We will have different Scripture readings during worship and we will continue to use corporate prayers and readings. I am not going to dumb down theology or pretend there are simple answers to our complex lives.
Jesus wasn’t cool. I know he had a beard and wore sandals, but he wasn’t cool. He didn’t hang out in the cool places with the cool people. I am afraid the dirty, broken, uncultured people Jesus hung out with would feel out of place in “cool” churches. Churches have never been filled with cool people. They are filled with people who desperately need God, and forgiveness and each other.
Somewhere along the way we began to think that we had to convince people that Jesus was cool and church is cool to get them to come. Well, church is NOT cool. Sometimes it’s just a mess. But, we need corporate worship and we need each other. So we come, in all our uncoolness. Geeks are welcome everywhere, not just in the tech ministry. Fashions zeros are welcome too. People who don’t know Twitter from Tumblr are welcome. All of us awkward, broken, folks are welcome.
There was a time when I wanted to be cool. Now, I just want to be real.