Why I don’t want to be a “cool” Christian

These days, many evangelical churches are noticing a lower attendance of young people.  Young people are not returning to church after they leave home–either for college or to live independently.  Why is this?  Wall Street Journal has an article written by a twenty-something author Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide (Baker, 2010).  McCracken says:

As a 27-year-old evangelical myself, I understand the concern. My peers, many of whom grew up in the church, are losing interest in the Christian establishment. Recent statistics have shown an increasing exodus of young people from churches, especially after they leave home and live on their own. In a 2007 study, Lifeway Research determined that 70% of young Protestant adults between 18-22 stop attending church regularly. 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.  Read entire article

He makes a very good point here.  Pastors, especially the young hip ones on the internet, look all slick and cool, but are their churches keeping our young people or losing them after they see through the slick and glitz?  What do young people want? Do they want authenticity or the slick glitzy cool “Christianity”?

It seems to be that evangelical churches are going down the same pathway that mainline churches have gone in the past, that is, trying to be relevant at the expense of failing to preach/teach the core of the gospel.  Is this “coolness” a factor in the church’s decline of young people?

Our churches are so good at teaching a human-centered theology but struggle with putting Christ in the center of our teaching and preaching.  We like talking about self-improvement, but we don’t like to talk about what’s wrong with us and how we need Christ. If evangelical churches continue walking down the same dangerous road, evangelical churches will eventually turn into dying churches within 10-20 years. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen. Just give me the pure gospel straight-up please.

7 thoughts on “Why I don’t want to be a “cool” Christian

  1. Kevin,

    This is good stuff. I’m with you in preaching Christ and the hardcore gospel. I say that our young people need gospel authenticity and genuine Christian community. Not the fluff that is often associated with megachurches.


  2. Some of this is age-specific; the church is part of the parenting cycle that the young adult has to break away from. That’s especially true now, with so many people in their sixties in church: at least at home, there was only one Mom and Dad. Imagine how it feels going to a group of 60 or 100 or 150 of them, all of them speaking to you in That Tone of Voice as you explore the world.

    Try this sometime. Spend three weeks listening to how old people talk to young people in church.


    1. Susan, thanks for your comment. I totally agree with you. Young people don’t feel very connected with what’s going on in church when it’s the older people in charge doing the things the way they like doing it. I’ve felt that and feel that young people are disempowered in decision-making. Finding that balance of relevance and authenticity is very much needed.

      Is this what you are getting at? If so, I feel the same way.


  3. Gary, it seems like this younger generation are so inundated with the inauthenticity that they can what is genuine and what is “put on”. Your daughter probably isn’t an exception but she’s the typical of today’s young people. I think the problem is not with the young people but it’s with the church.


    1. I agree, Kevin. The church needs to be authentic and stop trying to be what it’s not.


  4. I remember walking away from the church myself back in 1971-73 (It’s not a new thing!), and I have seen much the same thing in my 18-year-old daughter. I didn’t think the church was relevant to my life, and my daughter sees through the fake-coolness. She doesn’t want anything to do with people who are fakes. If they’re not authentic she’ll turn her back.

    Why does today’s church think they have to be cool and give the kids what they already get in school? The church needs to be authentic – concentrate on preaching the Gospel – be the Church!


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