I just received an e-mail from a friend in another city with a link to the Wall Street Journal. My friend wrote, “I read this article today and thought you might find it interesting. When even the Wall Street Journal observes the fallacies of the ‘culturally relevant’ church, it makes you wonder why Christians don’t see it.”
The link was to an article by Brett McCracken titled “The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity.” McCracken describes himself as a 27-year-old evangelical. A tag on the article indicates that his new book, Hipster Christianity: Where Church and Cool Collide, was published by Baker Books this month.
The article begins by bringing to our attention the fact that young adults are leaving the church at alarming rates. But the focus of the article is on what various churches are doing to try to attract and keep them. McCracken comments,
Statistics like these have created something of a mania in recent years, as baby-boomer evangelical leaders frantically assess what they have done wrong (why didn’t megachurches work to attract youth in the long term?) and scramble to figure out a plan to keep young members engaged in the life of the church.
Increasingly, the “plan” has taken the form of a total image overhaul, where efforts are made to rebrand Christianity as hip, countercultural, relevant. As a result, in the early 2000s, we got something called “the emerging church”—a sort of postmodern stab at an evangelical reform movement. Perhaps because it was too “let’s rethink everything” radical, it fizzled quickly. But the impulse behind it—to rehabilitate Christianity’s image and make it “cool”—remains.
He closes his article with,
If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that “cool Christianity” is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don’t want cool as much as we want real.
If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it’s easy or trendy or popular. It’s because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It’s because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched—and we want an alternative. It’s not because we want more of the same.
McCracken’s article got my attention. I’m going to have to check out his book! Read his full article and share your thoughts.