Good signage. Beautiful lobby. Excellent coffee bar. Near perfect lighting, sound, décor.
And everyone on the stage looked cool. You know what I mean: Fit, attractive, well groomed, casually dressed in designer jeans and shirts, a salt and peppering of tattoos and jewelry.
I felt cool just being there.
The flow of the service was unrushed but clearly well planned. One of the best video announcement montages I have ever seen, featuring a variety of ministry leaders who looked just as good as the people on the platform, was followed by an appropriately loud worship set.
Then came the sermon.
Or the talk. I’m not sure what to call it.
Because after 20 or so minutes of stories and stats and measured vocal highs and lows came the comment I will never forget. It was an aside but it went off in my heart like a grenade: “There are a lot of Bible verses to go with what I’m saying but we don’t have time today so we’re not gonna go there.”
Yes that’s pretty much an exact quote.
What’s odd is that a good Bible-based talk would not have taken away from the cool, which was clearly a core value of this church. Yet they didn’t have time, as if the words of the speaker were considered more profound and relevant than the Word, so they didn’t go there.
If we’re going to make disciples, the Word needs to be central. And if in the process of being and making disciples we can be cool from time to time, fine. It can’t hurt. But if cool displaces the Word, disciples will not be made. And fledgling followers of Jesus will be set up for a fall.
Because it won’t always look cool to follow Jesus.
If you are a passionate follower of Jesus you will be ridiculed. You ARE being ridiculed right now in popular culture. And some of that mocking will eventually hit you personally.
While such mockery barely registers on the scale of “persecution,” in a world where cool is a core value, where fitting in is the daily agenda of the masses, where intolerance and narrow-mindedness is avoided at all costs, will you pay the price? Will I?
Or will the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for coolness choke out the Word making it unfruitful?