On June 22, 2017, Q Ideas released a talk from Trip Lee entitled “Reverence Over Cool.” In his talk, Lee describes a trend in which Christians want to separate themselves from a corny, lame, mean or judgmental stereotype. Lee describes Christians saying, “Hey, I just want to make sure you know I’m one of the good ones. I just want to make sure you know I’m not judging you *wink*.” Lee goes on to explain that making “coolness” the key to decision-making and the heart of our behavior detracts from faith, hope and love as the highest virtues in our lives and waters down our witness.
After watching his presentation, I was refreshed to hear a frustration of articulated. The Christians around me seem to recognize that the legacy they are following is one of devotion, ritual and holiness. They see that the Christian faith is foreign and strange to non-Christians, that it is not attractive to the “cool” culture of today. They see that most of our culture finds Christianity to be disagreeable and uncomfortable. While I do not condone actively and intentionally reinforcing the notion of separation between secular and sacred worlds, I affirm that in order to commit to the Christian life, one has to embrace the disagreeability associated with it. However, many Christians shrink away from that disagreeability and instead dilute their faith to fit with “cool.”
I have seen many Christians strive fervently to be relevant or cool or “seeker-friendly,” which are not bad qualities to pursue. However, these qualities make horrible compasses for the direction of leadership. The tendency to seek cool, seeker-friendly, highly accessible church causes results in the neglect of the deeper needs of a congregation. For example, if every message from the pulpit is tailored to visitors or new believers, then the entire congregation is subject to a stagnate intellectual level of teaching. As a further example, I’ve been a part of Christian communities in which most collected funds seem to be focused on new building plans, fog machines and coffee shops. I’ve seen a level of focus toward being cool and agreeable that comes across as caring more about building up image and brand more than glorifying God and worshipping Him.
Again, I do not condemn cool. I do not declare Christianity as inherently disagreeable or unfriendly to outsiders. I do condemn using those qualities as guiding compasses in our lives and in our communities. We should seek to press deep into our religion, repentance, holiness and worship. We should exemplify faith, hope and love in our lives. If being cool is our guide, then we aim to please humanity. If serving the Father is our aim, then we can attract others via the genuine nature of our faith, hope and love.