I am not cool. If you doubt that assessment, feel free to ask my kids or anyone who knew me in high school, you will get a unanimous response, “He has never been cool.” Over the past few weeks some of the big name, “cool pastors,” have come out and talked about how pastoring is not about being cool. Now, to a large extent, I’m glad that this conversation is taking place. Although I am a bit uncomfortable with the harsh tone it seems to be taking.
There are times, when our family travels to a certain city, and we go to the church that is getting all of the coverage in the Christian media. Too often we leave with the sense that the whole goal of the service was to be “cool.”On a recent mini-vacation to a major city, we went to a multi-site church to see what it was like.
We had heard a lot about this church and went with high expectations. Let me clarify, my kids are pretty honest when it comes to their opinion on what they experience visiting different churches. A couple years ago we went to a church in NYC and one of my daughters told me afterward, “Dad, he is a much better speaker than you.” And it wasn’t even the main teaching pastor!
During this recent trip, the response to the service was not positive at all. There was an overwhelming sense we all felt that the whole thing was about being cool & hip. Now to be fair, the main pastor was not speaking that day (seems to be a theme for us). There was a professional athlete speaking instead, about whom Hannah said, “I used to really like him until I heard him use all of that Christianese.”
Anyway, on the one hand, I’m glad the conversation about cool is beginning to take place in the larger church, and I think it needs to happen. However, I am a bit concerned with how the conversation has started off. One of the guys focus was on how we use language, and he did a video blog, while driving in traffic and at times took both hands off of the wheel to make a point. It looked pretty cool. One of our staff pastors, James Cherian, who also saw this video, pointed out something that I missed. The title of this video blog was a clear shot at one of the other “cool” pastors out there.
Now, this guy was concerned about pastors cursing to be cool. He himself doesn’t talk like this from the stage. But a few years ago, he had a tank on his stage on a Sunday morning…that would be pretty cool! But I wonder, with recent results showing that evangelicals are more likely to be in favor of torture as a means of getting information than those who do not regularly go to church, would he re-think that decision?
Although I am not cool, given who I am, there are likely things I have done, or tried, because I thought they would be cool. Again, while I’m glad the conversation has started, I hope we can move beyond pointing fingers at what everyone else is doing, and begin to admit, and deal with our own issues.
Just a thought.