Will Christians Ever Be "Cool?"

by Oct 1, 2007

In this excellent article, Russell Moore takes Christians to task for trying too hard to be cool by cramming pop culture into the gospel. He confronts two major tendencies: creating Christian alternatives to worldly entertainment (“Remember those perfume dispensers they used to have in pharmacies—‘If you like Drakkar Noir, you’ll love Sexy Musk? Well, Christian rock works like that.”) and looking for signs of the gospel, no matter how far of a stretch, in TV, movies, and music (“Christians feel that other people won’t resonate with this strange biblical world of talking snakes, parting seas, floating axe-heads, virgin conceptions, and emptied graves. It is easier to meet them “where they’re at,” by putting in a Gospel According to Andy Griffith DVD (for the less hip among us) or by growing a soul-patch and quoting Coldplay at the fair-trade coffeehouse (for the more hip among us).”) He shares this personal experience:

Early in my ministry, I served as a youth pastor in a Baptist church near an Air Force base in Mississippi. Like every other Evangelical youth minister, I received all the advertisements from youth ministry curricula-hawkers, telling me how I could be “relevant” to “today’s teenagers.” The advertisements promised me ways I could “connect” with teenagers through Bible studies based on MTV reality shows and the songs on the top-40 charts that month.

All I knew how to do, though, was preach the gospel. Yes, I knew what was happening on MTV, and I’d often contrast biblical reality with that, but I fit nobody’s definition of cool—including my own.

A group of teenagers, mostly fatherless boys, some of them gang members, started attending my Wednesday night Bible study. Some of them arrived at the church engulfed in a cloud of marijuana smoke.

I found they weren’t impressed with the “cool” supplemental video clips provided by my denomination’s publisher. They laughed at Christian rap stars, in the same way I laughed at my high-school history teacher’s effort to “have a groovy rap session with you youngsters.”

But what riveted their attention was how weird we were. “So, like, you really believe this dead guy came back from the dead,” one 15-year-old boy asked me. “I do,” I replied. “For real?” he responded. I said, “For real.”

It’s worth reading the whole thing.