Birth of the (Un)Cool

Posted: January 9, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Years ago, in 1957, a jazz classic was born: Birth of the Cool, a compilation album of jazz trumpeter, Miles Davis. It broke all kinds of ground. It’s still one of the gold standards in the jazz world.

Not too long ago Rachel Held Evans – writer and blogger evolved out of the evangelical world – wrote an blog post that is, I think, a new gold standard for a new album. It’s a worship album, or album about worship. And it’s about the virtue of, yes, the Un-Cool. So it’s Miles backwards. I don’t often quote other people’s work en-toto, but … this deserves air time. If you want to visit Rachel’s page it’s http://rachelheldevans.com

Here are excerpts from her post. I’ve spent time in some places where form and excellence outweighed Gospel and people, and it wasn’t just in new contemporary church either. Traditional Worship elites do the same thing, just from a different angle:

“People sometimes assume that because I’m a progressive 30-year-old who enjoys Mumford and Sons and has no children, I must want a super-hip church—you know, the kind that’s called “Thrive” or “Be” and which boasts “an awesome worship experience,” a  fair-trade coffee bar, its own iPhone app, and a pastor who looks like a Jonas Brother.

While none of these features are inherently wrong, (and can of course be used by good people to do good things), these days I find myself longing for a church with a cool factor of about 0.

That’s right.

I want a church that includes fussy kids, old liturgy, bad sound, weird congregants,  and…brace yourself…painfully amateur “special music” now and then.

Why?

Well, for one thing, when the gospel story is accompanied by a fog machine and light show, I always get this creeped-out feeling like someone’s trying to sell me something. It’s as though we’re all compensating for the fact that Christianity’s not good enough to stand on its own so we’re adding snacks.

But more importantly, I want to be part of an un-cool church because I want to be part of a community that shares the reputation of Jesus, and like it or not, Jesus’ favorite people in the world were not cool. They were mostly sinners, misfits, outcasts, weirdos, poor people, sick people, and crazy people.

Cool congregations can get so wrapped up in the “performance” of church that they forget to actually be the church, a phenomenon painfully illustrated by the story of the child with cerebral palsy who was escorted from the Easter service at Elevation Church for being a “distraction.”

Really?

It seems to me that this congregation was distracted long before this little boy showed up! In their self-proclaimed quest for “an explosive, phenomenal movement of God—something you have to see to believe,” they missed Jesus when he was right under their nose. 

 Was the paralytic man lowered from the rooftop in the middle of a sermon a distraction?

Was the Canaanite woman who harassed Jesus and his disciples about healing her daughter a distraction?

Were the blind men from Jericho who annoyed the crowd with their relentless cries a distraction?

Jesus didn’t think so. In fact, he seemed to think that they were the point.

Jesus taught us that when we throw a banquet or a party, our invitation list should include “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.” So why do our church marketing teams target the young, the hip, the healthy, and the resourced?

***

Some of us wear our brokenness on the inside, others on the outside. 

But we’re all broken. 

We’re all un-cool.

We’re all in need of a Savior.

So let’s cut the crap, pull the plug, and have us some distracting church services… the kind where Jesus would fit right in.

Comments
  1. Menina says:

    Amen! Amen! Amen! No more comment needed!

  2. Jan Coffman says:

    Wow!

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