Come to the Cool Church


I was driving down I-75 this afternoon on my way home from Wisconsin and saw two billboards for churches. Both were disheartening.

Billboard #1: “Your kind of church.”

Billboard #2: “An Exciting Church. P.S. Flip flops welcome”

Maybe I am just grumpy from a lot of time on the road, but I believe that this typifies the man-centeredness of the church growth movement that plagues our day. Seriously, if a church really is the kind of church that folks driving down I 75 want, can it be even close to being God’s kind of church? This is the fatal flaw in this kind of marketing approach—whenever the “consumer is king” the “product” must be tailored to his desires. The gospel and the church are not, though, products to be marketed (cf. 2 Cor 2:17)!

I’ll admit that I am not a big flip flop fan, but my complaint against this billboard isn’t so much about what one wears to worship  as much as it is how one views worship and how the leaders of the church call people to worship. Obviously, the point of the billboard is to emphasize the casualness and comfortableness of worship—wear what you wear when you want to chill out. Again, it is the fact that the leaders of the church are appealing to this is what matters to me. I am not interested in a debate about whether it is right or wrong to wear flip flops to church. The more important question, in my mind, is whether those who lead God’s people in worship should deliberately appeal for people to come into the presence of God casually, like they are going on a picnic or just hanging out with friends?

I suppose someone could argue that having flip flops on makes it easier to remove them once you’re on holy ground, but I wonder if the people writing the billboard have any sense that the gathering of God’s people in God’s presence to exalt Him even includes that possibility. I doubt that the “flip flops welcome” crowd really has a clue about worshipping God “with reverence and awe” (Heb 12:28).

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