Zoe Church of Los Angeles isn’t a regular church — it’s a cool church.
That’s the takeaway from a recent New York Times article profiling this Hipster Utopia, lead by Pastor Chad Veach.
He’s also not a regular pastor. He’s tattooed, doesn’t want to “take sides” in politics because he’s a “Bible guy,” and also makes sure to mention that he’s the spiritual advisor (whatever that entails) for none other than Justin Bieber.
If that doesn’t convince you kids to get off the lawn and go back to church, I don’t know what will.
Mr. Veach believes he can save souls by being the hip and happy-go-lucky preacher, the one you want to share a bowl of açaí with at Backyard Bowls on Beverly Boulevard, who declines to publicly discuss politics in the Trump era because it’s hard to minister if no one wants to come to church. Jesus is supposed to be fun, right?
Color this Christian utterly unimpressed.
I’m not a fan of engaging in “Bible wars” to determine whose interpretation is the “correct” one, but of all the adjectives to describe Jesus — and there are many — “fun” doesn’t immediately come to mind. Even in the best possible light, Jesus walked against the grain of a society that looked down upon the poor and stoned “impure” women. He talked about “turning the other cheek” and forgiving your enemies. Then, of course, there was the whole crucifixion thing… which was probably not very fun, dude.
More importantly, though, you don’t have to get political to discuss many of the issues that Trump is bringing to the forefront of American discourse. Issues like immigration, for example, can be linked to stories from the gospels (“When I was a stranger, you welcomed me”). And churches can always do more to welcome marginalized groups, such as non-white and LGBTQ people. Sure, some people may be alienated by messages of inclusion and tolerance, but Jesus also talked about “picking up your cross” (i.e. making sacrifices for the greater good).
Living in a politics-free bubble seems to violate everything Jesus asked His followers to do. And even conservative Christians would likely agree that not offering a stance on abortion (“Mr. Veach declined to give a specific answer”) is a mark of cowardice rather than acceptance.
Maybe it’s worth risking your “cool” status to do the hard, gritty work of loving people rather than trying to appeal to millennials with shallow, performative gestures such as sidewalk baptisms and name-dropping celebrities you hang with. It’s unfair to lump all Millennials together as if they all think alike, but one trend that has emerged in that age group is a desire for authenticity.
Veach’s method of trying to be “cool” while avoiding serious topics because any stance may alienate certain people seems bound to backfire.
(Image via Facebook)