“The coffee was bad, the chairs uncomfortable, and the music wasn’t really my taste. Plus it didn’t really have a cool vibe. I don’t think I’ll go back.” Initially, one would have thought that my friend was talking about the new coffee shop that had just opened down the street. Unfortunately she wasn’t though, this was her response to me when I asked if she liked the new church she had attended the previous Sunday. “I mean the message was good, it just wasn’t my thing.”
I think few of us would like to actually admit it, but it often feels that looking for a church frighteningly correlates with the way we would look for a new favorite coffee shop. I think this is especially true for the arising younger generation of today. The marks of a “true church” seem to resemble a coffee bar, worship pastor in skinny jeans and toms shoes, abstract art on the wall, cool typography in the bulletin, and a well-dressed congregation. Where is the power of the gospel in that? The importance of doctrine, community, ministries, and service can come second to that of the “vibe” of the church. This focus on being relevant, cool, and hip is not inherently bad or evil, I think, but unfortunately it can dangerously skew the priorities of a church, it’s members, and those seeking to find a place in it. It can turn the church into a chill environment where Christians go to hang out, meet cool people, and sit for a few hours. This selfish, consumerist institution has little resemblance to the Church Christ spoke of. The church he recounted was one of hope, kingdom priorities, selfless love, power, and incarnational living. “Church is God’s people intentionally committing to die together so that other’s can find the kingdom” (Halter, Smay). The church is not a Coffee Shop.