Pastors with goatees and stylish glasses were considered on the cusp of ultimate "coolness" probably 2-5 years ago. Now, I think guys with goatees and glasses (i.e. me -- see picture to the right) mostly get made fun of. And probably rightly so. I've heard a lot of seasoned Pastors poke a little fun at Pastors who have a goatee, wear "granny-style" glasses and show movie clips during their sermons. These are the same Pastors who use candles in their worship service and drink beer and might even use cuss words from time to time. To be honest, all of that makes me a little self-conscious, because I've done all of those things (except cuss, that's just not my style). Actually, it makes me want to get new glasses and shave my goatee. But then, I would just be falling into the same trap: being too consumed by how I look -- just in the opposite direction. And quite frankly, I kinda like the way I look in glasses and in what I call a "goatee." (sidenote: I got my glasses at Costco. They have really good deals on glasses!)
Here are some examples of cool pastors/christians:
Exhibit A. Pastor Mark Driscoll: the unshaven, unbuttoned shirt look:
Exhibit B. Pastor Dan Kimball: the California, punk rock hair look
Exhibit C. Musician David Crowder: the classic old-style glasses with crazy goatee. a crazy 'fro too.
Here's my main point. I am a young guy, and I'm impressionable. I've spent the last five years probably getting too caught up in trying to be a "cool pastor." On one hand, I think it is a very important and good thing to try to understand our culture especially for the purposes of reaching it with the Gospel. On the other hand, I admit that young guys like me get really excited about the "newest, coolest, and most innovative" new techniques. I still have these tendencies. But I think I'm beginning to realize that the most important thing is not being cool, but rather the most important thing is getting your message right. If you're cool, and people think you're cool, and they're going to your church, but they aren't changed, challenged, and completely transformed by the Gospel, you've really accomplished nothing. I'm far from perfect, but I'm thankful that for the next two to three years, I am required to read books from theologians and saints from centuries past who did not have goatees or cool glasses. I doubt that St. Augustine or Abraham or Jesus or the Apostle Paul were considered stylish in their day. I'm trying to undrstand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The more I study, the more I realize how rich, complex and multi-layered it is. But my prayer for myself and all the other young cool pastors out there is that we will focus on things of first importance: understanding the Gospel, and taking it deep into our hearts and identities. Then, we can have debates about the coolest eyewear.