Is Your Church Cool?

Posted: August 13, 2010 by Amy Hall in Etcetera

In an article in the Wall Street Journal today, Brett McCracken describes what he calls “Wannabe Cool” Christianity—churches whose plan to attract people involves a conscious effort to be cool. For example:

There are various ways that churches attempt to be cool. For some, it means trying to seem more culturally savvy. The pastor quotes Stephen Colbert or references Lady Gaga during his sermon, or a church sponsors a screening of the R-rated “No Country For Old Men.” For others, the emphasis is on looking cool, perhaps by giving the pastor a metrosexual makeover, with skinny jeans and an $80 haircut, or by insisting on trendy eco-friendly paper and helvetica-only fonts on all printed materials. Then there is the option of holding a worship service in a bar or nightclub….

McCracken isn’t convinced these things draw people in the long term, so I wanted to ask, when you think about your church and why you go there, what comes first to your mind? And if it is the cool things about your church, don’t be afraid to say so! We’d love to hear what you think.

  1. First thing I think of is the people. All the ones I have ministered to and all the ones who have ministered to me. We are definitely not a cool church, but we are a loving church. Always looking for ways to reach others for Christ, and ensuring others needs are met. Cool is very uncool if it makes you miss out on what God intends for you to do.

  2. Amy Hall says:

    Thanks, Kelly. In light of what you’ve said, I’d be interested to hear if someone in a church like the one the article describes has found that there’s a loss of closeness in the congregation. I’m not sure that necessarily would happen, but I don’t know what their answer would be. Regardless, I’d be willing to bet that if they do have closeness, their closeness will be thought of before their coolness!

  3. Norris Hall says:

    As an ex Christian who left the Church after graduating from a mid west Bible College I have to say that the image of Christianity has fallen even further than when I was in school.

    According to the research by the Barna Group, believers today are seen as too judgmental, too political, and often hypocritical, too old fashioned and too anti-gay

  4. Bob Beach says:

    The first thing that I think of solid expositional teaching both during the worship service and in “Sunday school” beforehand. As far as being cool, well sometimes the air conditioning might get a little bit too cold.. But it is definately a “real” experience that is more on the intellectual side and as such is not really seeker sensitive. A definate oasis from the “relevant”, flashy “church 2.0” that we escaped from.

  5. My church (St George’s Tron in Glasgow, Scotland) is definitely not cool. The most modern hymn we sing was written about 20 years ago, we sang a hymn by Augustine a couple of months ago and the music is often on an organ. They only occasionally have electronic drums so that the volume can be controlled. There is no sense of show about a church service. So why would a 24 year old and his 22 year old wife leave a church where the music was rocking, where relevant and contemporary were two of the values held up highest? Substance.

    The main reason why we go to a church which is not cool is because they have realised the not so secret “secret” of being a successful church, the pure Gospel and preaching it consistently. I love my uncool church because the even if the hymns are ancient, they are also thoughtful, meaningful and God-glorifying. The sermons are not seven ways to have your best life now but are expositions of Scripture not just in the style of a lecture to give you more information, but to call out sin in your life and help you to be focussed back towards Jesus and the Gospel.

    Who cares about cool? God doesn’t. Cool may grow the church in breadth but only the Gospel grows the church in depth.

  6. Ben says:

    The messages for their wantings are substancially biblical and savy. Edifying and otherwise enriching. the song is more thoughtful than lame seance-like, borrowing from the best of the old and new (though it bares a bothering resemblence to the local soft rock station).

    The educational ministry is better than most as there exists a rough avenue for those inclined to become more faithfully familiar with God’s loves letters and to other wise add wisdom to their piety. (So many children are neglected for want of this type of ministry and it hurts them when they they are sent among wolves in “Christian” colleges. I feel my attending a church without some avenue for growth in this way (discernment) would be tantamount to my implying support for child abuse.)

  7. Ben says:

    btw the music in cool churches sucks. in my experience.

    In a neo-monastic community I mentioned in passing that I wasn’t a fan of the hippy worship style. they told me I need to be strong for the sake of others. demographically our outreach consistened of fans of city-thumpin sounds and country. We were lame on purpose, and they called it cool. 😛

    p.s. I am over the candles.

  8. Karen says:

    I go to a “cool” church, but I also go to a church which has a fervent desire for the lost, hungry, unclothed, unwashed people. In my church you can attend various venues that provide different types of music, so if you are into rock or old hymns, you get the praise portion that fits your style, but the teachings, the reaching out to the world and tending to their needs, the emphasis on small groups and ministry within the church are strong. We don’t believe in “attending on Sunday and the rest of the week is yours…” To us, following CHRIST is 24/7, we have studies on prophecy, examining the evidence of the Bible and CHRIST, indepth Bible studies for men, women, groups, children, teens, outreaches to motel residents, the sick, the jailed, those with dependencies on drugs, alcohol, anger, etc.

    Our pastors use humor, real life disasters and troubles, analogies for their teachings, but they ALWAYS teach from the Bible, always call those who would like to give their lives to CHRIST every weekend to come and be baptized, we have people who are dedicated to praying for any request that comes into the church, 24/7.

    So there are “cool” churches out there which also are Biblical churches.