Skillet Singer: ‘Cool’ Leaders Should Not Have the Most Influence In Christendom

john l. cooper

Saying that “it’s too important not to” speak out, Skillet’s lead singer, John L. Cooper, has written a Facebook post with his reaction to the high profile leaders who have recently renounced Christianity. Cooper shares several insights and exhortations for Christians in light of what he perceives is happening in the church at large.

“My conclusion for the church (all of us Christians): We must STOP making worship leaders and thought leaders or influencers or cool people or ‘relevant’ people the most influential people in Christendom,” he says, “(And yes that includes people like me!).” 

Skillet is a Christian hard rock band that was formed in 1996. To date, the band has released 15 albums, been nominated for two Grammys, and won multiple Dove awards. In an interview a few years ago, Cooper told CBN News that the band has always been about Jesus. He said, “What I am most proud about Skillet is that we have never one time been embarrassed of our Christian faith. I’ve never one time said, ‘No, we’re not a Christian band,’ and tried to dance around it.”

John L. Cooper Asks, ‘What is happening?’

Cooper told CBN that when doing interviews with secular radio stations, people often want him to feel embarrassed about being in a Christian band, expecting him to deny that Skillet is one. But, he said, “without fail, every single time I’ve looked them in the eye, and I’ve said, ‘Absolutely, we’re a Christian band. We are not embarrassed about it at all.'”

Yet in the past few weeks, influencers such as former pastor and writer Josh Harris and former Hillsong United member Marty Sampson have rocked (no pun intended) the evangelical world by announcing they are no longer Christians. In the wake of these announcements, Cooper is asking, “What is happening in Christianity?” 

Too Reliant on Popular Leaders

Cooper’s first conclusion is that the church must stop relying so much on popular leaders as a source of truth: “We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word.” Cooper says he is not trying to be rude to his friends who are worship leaders, and he stresses the importance of what worship ministers do by creating “a moment and a vehicle for God to speak.”

However, he thinks many of his worship leader friends would agree with him that it is dangerous to look to leaders over the Bible. Cooper writes, “Singers are not always the best people to write solid bible truth and doctrine. Sometimes we are too young, too ignorant of scripture, too unaware, or too unconcerned about the purity of scripture and the holiness of the God we are singing to.”

A Strange Boldness

Cooper is also shocked by how unashamed former Christian leaders seem to be as they announce the fact they have left their faith. Cooper thinks this attitude is strange because these people are essentially saying, “I’ve been living and preaching boldly something for 20 years and led generations of people with my teachings and now I no longer believe it..therefore I’m going to boldly and loudly tell people it was all wrong while I boldly and loudly lead people in to my next truth.” He asks, “Why be so eager to continue leading people when you clearly don’t know where you are headed?”

A Misleading Authenticity

It’s also odd, Cooper thinks, that these leaders feel they need to announce everything they are going through. It’s not necessarily authentic or brave to share every dark experience you’re having, he argues, and it’s important to consider the consequences if you do share what you are going through. The singer says he recently read a statement by a renowned worship leader who renounced his faith, in which the leader refers to his difficulty accepting that a loving God would send people to hell. This is likely a reference to Marty Sampson, who in a post on Instagram said no one in the church is willing to discuss that question

In response, Cooper says, “Brother, you are not that unique. The church has wrestled with this for 1500 years. Literally. Everybody talks about it. Children talk about it in Sunday school. There’s like a billion books written on the topic. Just because you don’t get the answer you want doesn’t mean that we are unwilling to wrestle with it.”

Jesus’ Teachings Without Jesus Himself

Cooper’s final reaction to these influencers is that they are being inconsistent when they renounce Jesus but still encourage people to hold to certain, obviously Christian, morals. He says, “No child is ever born and says ‘I just want to love others before loving myself. I want to turn the other cheek. I want to give my money away to others in need.’” Rather, those ideas are from the Bible. So if people teach those values while rejecting Jesus, what they are doing is “endorsing the words of a madman.”

And if these leaders came to a point where they were willing to renounce beliefs they held for decades, who is to say they won’t come to the same place eventually with their current values? Cooper asks, “Will your ideas of what is ‘good’ be different from year to year based on your experience, culture trends, popular opinion etc and furthermore will you continue year by year to lead others into your idea of goodness even though it is not absolute?” 

Return to the Word

Cooper ends his post with a call to the church to “rediscover the preeminence of the Word.” He says, “We need to value truth over feeling. Truth over emotion. And what we are seeing now is the result of the church raising up influencers who did not supremely value truth who have led a generation who also do not believe in the supremacy of truth. And now those disavowed leaders are proudly still leading and influencing boldly AWAY from the truth.”

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Jessica Mouser
Jessica Mouser is a writer for ChurchLeaders.com. She has always had a passion for the written word and has been writing professionally for the past two years. She especially enjoys evaluating how various beliefs play out within culture. When Jessica isn't writing, she enjoys playing the piano, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.