Drink the Kool Aid

Drink the kool aidverb, slang term – 1. the action of wholeheartedly buying into the vision of a religious organization, even to a fault. 2. a crude reference to the tragedy of People’s Temple massacre as lead by Jim Jones.

Last night, Kristen and I watched Undercover Boss, and we giggled that people were really proud to work for Choice Hotels. Now, I actually like their hotels because I like to travel on the cheap. But it was hard to imagine making that company my life’s work. It’s one thing to drink the kool aid for a hotel chain. But it’s another to drink it for a church.

Let’s face it. Every good organization has some kool aid drinking going on.  Those people have their own language, their own culture, and their own traditions. People inside the organization don’t even see it. But visitors come in as outsiders and walk around wide-eyed, not getting it.

People drunk on kool aid can be peculiar to be around… but there’s fewer things finer in the world than being happily under the influence of kool aid! I used to get weirded out by this phenomenon… but now I see it a lot differently. I actually think it is kind of beautiful.

As I talk to folks who work at churches and other Christian organizations I see two distinct types of people:

  1. People who drank deep of the organizations kool aid and are purveyors of it themselves.
  2. People who are too skeptical of all organizations to ever drink the kool aid, therefore wander churches aimlessly looking for the right place to worship or work.

With these two types of people I guess I have have two different types of advice

For those drunk on kool aid:

  • Enjoy it! Be happy in Jesus where you are!
  • Every once and a while, come up from your intoxication to make sure your life is balanced (doing stuff outside of your church) and that what your church is up to lines up with the priorities of the Bible.

For those skeptics afraid to drink deep of kool aid’s fount:

  • It’s crazy to think about, but the early church was full of kool aid drinkers. (Acts 2:15) Sometimes you (really, I mean “we” since I struggle with this) need to stop being über critical and just drink the kool aid to find what you are looking for.
  • Your (and by you, I include myself) inability to drink the kool aid at any religious organization reveals something about your own heart. It’s not that there is something wrong with “them,” it may just be that there is something wrong with you.

In short: Stay thirsty, my friends.





8 responses to “Drink the Kool Aid”

  1. Jeff Lutz Avatar

    Great post! This is playing into a situation that has been going on at our church recently. I have always tried to do just this, be skeptical enough to make sure we are on track, but drink enough kool aid to be happy where God has me.

    1. adam mclane Avatar

      I was really hoping for a “but” in your comment. But alas, one didn’t come. 🙁

  2. Dennis Avatar

    This works for missions organizations, too. It has to. If you’re going to be in it, go all in.

  3. Anna Christie Avatar

    I really hate this expression as a religious leader. It smacks of foolish, even stupid parishioners and evil, manipulating leaders. Maybe cuz I’m old enough to have seen the Peoples Temple on the news and how horrible it was.

    At any rate, what’s most important is to drink deep of living water.

    1. adam mclane Avatar

      Yeah, living water isn’t fun and catchy. Kool aid, more sugary.

  4. Matt C. Avatar
    Matt C.

    But you have to at least acknowledge that those who are hesistant to invest in a community most likely do so because they have been burned before. They have drunk the kool-aid deeply, loved it, then suddenly started choking and dying and not knowing why. A church has to earn the right to serve kool-aid, and that takes time and integrity… two things that many churches are to impatient to invest in.

    1. adam mclane Avatar

      Absolutely. But we are talking a few months of skepticism, not years. I have a few friends who say things which make it seem they can never trust again. Honestly, some of that is normal while others would be wise to talk to someone about their trust issues.

      1. Matt C Avatar
        Matt C

        It took years for me to first get killed by the kool-aid, or for the kool-aid to start to show it’s negative side-effects. But, it also took being in a position of leadership which doesn’t happen without being willing to risk getting hurt. I’m just saying that people have their reasons and some reasons are REALLY valid.

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