I’m Too Cool For Chris Tomlin: And Other Ridiculous Ways To Be Cool In Church


Sometimes I turn up a Chris Tomlin album at full blast in my car and sing “Famous One” for the ten-thousandth time and then I start to feel bad because I know it’s bubble-gum Christianese sugar-pop and it’s not real Christian music.

Well that’s what they tell me.  Tomlin and Redman and Stanfill are my secret guilty pleasures, so when I get to church, I turn down the volume and tell myself it was just a one-drive stand.  It’s not like my feelings were involved or anything.

Except — why should I feel this way? 

Why can’t I enjoy sugary Christian praise?

Who are these people that determine how I sing to God?

I had to quit caring about this.  I don’t want to defend my Tomlin-crush to some snooty theology snob who makes me feel like a sell-out whenever I buy into the “conspiracy machine of music, man.” 

If someone makes me feel bad for enjoying something harmless, that’s what Jesus called a stuck-up Pharisee.  I’m tired of imprisoning myself in more guilt to appease someone else’s preferences. I go to church partially to get rid of this asinine judging, not to have more layers of it.


I just don’t think Christians constantly need serious depth for permission to have joy. 

If you have never found a Tomlin tune catchy, you are a straight up lying liar-face.

If someone also shamed you for liking Bruno Mars or Destiny’s Child or Jason Mraz or Taylor Swift — well dude, the haters can hate and I’ll keep singing. 

I don’t know why people argue over subjective tastes.  It’s an opinion.  We like different things and we have different kinds of churches and different kinds of liturgies.  You can’t have a wrong worship style, and if you think so, you probably need to go out more.

I am completely over trying to be cool in church — especially in front of other Christians.  Life is way too short and God is certainly way more fun than we’ve made Him.

I’m not going to grumble in the corner when the pastor uses props.  I will sing those dang VBS songs at the top of my lungs.  I will do the hand motions for your body worship dance.  I will enjoy those crazy ice breaker games and sing those corny praise songs and even laugh at the pastor’s bad jokes.  I’m not turning my nose up at the flashy megachurch or your hipster acoustic set or the latest Christian radio hit.  If you don’t like Chris Tomlin, you can find someone else to take you home.

But if you don’t care to be so cool, then we are singing “White Flag” on repeat until you lose your voice and quit feeling sorry about it. 

You go sing that stupid song and don’t worry about who’s looking.

— J.S.

Originally posted here on my Tumblr.

26 thoughts on “I’m Too Cool For Chris Tomlin: And Other Ridiculous Ways To Be Cool In Church

      1. Actually there’s three versions of Newsboys. The original with James John (Peter Furler’s friend), then a revamp when Peter Furler took lead vocals then the new ensemble with Michael Tait. 😀


  1. Have to disagree slightly (and yes, I know it is picking nits) but there is ONE wrong worship style. The one that is focused on anything or anyone other than Christ. We worship an audience of one!

    Other than that you can’t go wrong, however you wish to exalt Him…


  2. lol hey I like Psalty the blue singing song book. Never been laughed at in church because of my music…then again I’m a loner and my close friends don’t care what music I listen to. I’ve got favorite songs in every Christian genre….kind of the same with most things in life. But hey, I learned to stop trying to be cool by my Dad who had no shame in wearing camo pants and a fancy black hat with Christian buttons all over it. I got picked on from Kindergarten thru High school for being different. But I’m happy. I pray my son learns to not care and just be himself….anything else would be boring. Rock on Bro!


    1. I only recently learned about Psalty, hah. I think getting picked on by others never stops, it just evolves into an advanced “civilized” form by grown-ups with overcompensating insecurities. Hence, all the snobbery in everything from music to theology to movies. I’m sure your son will be just as free and fun-loving as you are!


      1. Ah thanks :). Psalty is awesome. This is my favorite song of his but we have it on VHS the live version:

        I love the chorus :). This may get stuck in your head lol. God bless bro!


    1. I remember Kirk Franklin and Chris Tomlin were in a concert together, and Franklin saying, “Chris is so blessed, to have God give all these songs to him.” I’m sure God was jamming to Chris Tomlin way before Chris Tomlin was. 🙂


  3. Humour demolishes the powerful! Only those who live by power rather than love tease, debase, mock others and intend to shape them into their image.
    Tough on you – I’m already shaped in the image of God with a background of Calvary cross.
    This is just wonderful…
    Oh, I’m one of those who marches to my own style. Drove my sister crazy, then my daughters. My wife, bless her heart, has given up on that. But they all know Jesus!! Can’t be all bad, eh?


  4. LOL! I join you in your Chris Tomlin crush and would like to add the band formally known as The David Crowder Band and the mushy song, “Oh How He Loves”. Who says every song has to have deep theology in it like some hymns? I don’t know. But I do know that sometimes the most simple idea or truth is the most profound packed with incredible richness. What about the truth that God loves us? Simple truth but wow!!! Amazingly profound if you think about what it means for God to love us sinners. Thanks for this post! I will be turning up White Flag and not feel ashamed. 😀


  5. I recently bought my first Chris Tomlin album and listen to it whenever I’m driving in the car. Although I do listen to Kirk Franklin and John Butler Trio as well and a bit of Bob Marley wrapped in the mix there.


  6. Fantastic!

    You know, they didn’t like Luther, who was the original “Apologetix,” or Isaac Watts, whose “newfangled” music was certainly of the devil (and now comprises 2/3 or more of any hymnal!).

    God said, “Sing to Me a *new* song; He didn’t specify genre that I can recall. Intense analysis of music is certainly not the action of a little child, either (which was what Jesus said we need to be).

    Crank up the tunes – check out Lincoln Brewster, Tommy Walker, and John Waller, if you haven’t heard their music; and when you get to heaven, be sure to stop by my place. We’ll be jamming on a regular basis…me and Beethoven, Luther, and Christ Tomlin. Can’t wait to hear what we’re going to come up with when we blend all the styles together!



    1. You’re right on about hymns and such. Even the introduction of guitar and drums into church services was a huge deal, and some people still call it the devil (hah).
      Brewster and Walker are great! And yes, all the languages and music styles are going to be a crazy awesome mix in Heaven. I was just at a retreat last night where they prayed in different languages to show what Heaven might sound like. A great preview.


      1. I’ll bet that was incredible. When in Israel, we were at St. Anne’s Cathedral. We sang the Doxology. There were people from other countries waiting their turn (the acoustics are amazing – like Boze on steroids!). They all joined in, each singing in their own language. That was definitely a highlight of my life!


  7. it’s a joy to read this. 🙂 I am actually one of those classic HYMNatics. I listen to hymn on instrument everyday. But my church sings Tomlin’s, Casting Crowns’ and Hillsongs’. So I know some of their songs and enjoy them also! Agree with RPM Life Coach, as long as it brings us to worship the One true God, we should be jammin’ with our own style and respect others preferences. Thanks for writing this!


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