The Cool Factor
People don't buy
things any more because they work. They buy them because them
because they are cool.
I upgraded my
Bible software recently from
Wordsearch 5 to 7.
It is not about functionality or features. It is about cool. The
icons are a little smoother and not so clunky and, well, cool.
I went into
Best Buy to replace my ailing MP3 player recently. I had been happy
with the Creative MP3s and had in mind to buy one of those. But, they
had an open box
IPOD NANO so I decided to look at it. It does the same thing
as my old MP3. Same functions. Same features. But, boy is that IPOD
cool! There is a reason Apple is making more money on music players
now than they do on computers. They are cool.
My next phone
is going to be a
Razr, or something like it. (By the time my contract is up,
they will no doubt have something even cooler.) It is not that it
has features my phone doesn't have--I don't use half the features my
phone has now. It is all about cool.
without the features we want won't work. I use an old version of
WordPerfect (version 9) because in subsequent, and more cool
versions they changed the way they convert a document to HTML
(web-speak). I won't give up features I need for cool, but, in most
cases, the features are all there. It is not about cool. The game
belongs to the cool.
Should churches try to be cool?
Well, not at
the price of giving up something deeper, more important. Of course
not. Not cool at the price of giving up our faith, our beliefs, our
integrity, or who we are as Christians. No. No. In spades, no.
But, we are
told to "make the teaching about God our Savior attractive." (Titus
2.10) The modern word for attractive is cool. Being cool is about making the gospel of our
attractive. Apparently, it is possible to make the gospel of our
Savior not attractive. We don't want to do that. We want to make the
gospel of our Savior attractive.
There is a
whole generation of very conservative churches that have learned to
minister effectively by being very, very cool. They haven't given up
their heart or their soul or their theology or their
conservativeness. They have not given up anything. But, they are
very, very cool.
West Ridge Church in
greater Atlanta is an example of a cool (and fast growing) church.
There current sermon series on the book of Ruth is pretty much
old-fashioned expository preaching. it reminds me of a classic Chuck
Swindoll sermon. They are very conservative, daughter church of
First Baptist, Woodstock, GA. Less than ten years later, they have
busted the 3000 barrier and planted a number of growing churches in
the Atlanta area and beyond. Their dream is not so much about being
a mega-church as much as it is about playing a significant role
locally, nationally, and globally. Just look at their web page. It
Mars Hill Church
and the Acts 29 Church
Planting Network is an extremely cool and extremely
conservative group of folks. They are a part of a rapidly
multiplying generation of churches reaching the next generation.
Cool is not
about one particular style. The Acts 29 folks are very cool but they
are very different in style and approach than, say, either
Willowcreek or Saddleback.
in Louisville is cool. But, they are a
Christian Church and act like it. They are cool without being
particularly hip. Their music is somewhat subdued by today's
standards. No hard driving rock and roll at Southeast Christian.
Still, there is that unmistakable mark of being very cool. And
growing? We had to go up five escalators to find a seat in the top
balcony when we visited a few weeks ago.
Cool is an
amazing thing. Once you are cool you can do anything and whatever
you do is cool. We visited
a few weeks ago. This is a very cool and hip and contemporary and
edgy and creative church. When we visited a few weeks ago, the
service started with an old hymn sung by a solo female voice and
accompanied by a single acoustic guitar. Kind of of old-fashioned in
a way. It would have fit in just fine at the 11.00 services in the
church I grew up in. Very simple. Very beautiful. And very cool. When you are
Fellowship Church, everything you do is cool.
What is cool?
It is like
humor, if you have to explain it, it is not funny.
It is like
beauty, if you have to explain to someone why it is beautiful, it is
not that beautiful.
When it is
cool, you just know it.
beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. What is cool to some would be
downright dippy to others. Dippy is the opposite of cool. There is a
things would be cool to some and not to others, other things would
be cool to almost everyone and some things would be dippy to almost
everyone. And, here is the point: if you want your church to grow,
you better be cool to someone. It may not be cool by Ed Young Jr.'s
standard, but it better be cool to someone. Make the gospel
attractive. Every church I know of that is growing has that
unmistakable mark of coolness. The only possible exception is a
church in an area that is growing so fast that they would have to be
down-right dippy to not be growing.
There is, of
course, a thing such as trying too hard to be cool. That is very
uncool. Trying too hard to be cool is uncool. No one likes the person who tries too hard to be cool.
Coolness must come from the inside, the fruit of a cool heart.
What is cool
today may not (in fact, almost certainly will not) be cool tomorrow.
Cool is about being fresh. In fact, that is the new word for cool
among my teenagers and their friends. The word cool is dippy to them. The
word fresh is in. Anything that is good and positive is fresh. A car
is fresh. The meal is fresh. Going to Orlando is fresh. Fresh is
cool. But, to them, cool is not fresh.
over time. The word cool may not be cool at all for some. They may
prefer "a class act" or "fresh."
The name of a
church can be cool or not. Pick up a Yellow Pages and look through
the list. What names are cool? There is a church in my city, Las
Cruces that I have always thought has a really cool name. To get the
coolness of the name you have to know that the name Las Cruces
means, "The Crosses." Apparently, there were some early settlers who
died in this region, they buried them and marked their graves with
some crosses. The area came to be known as "The Crosses" in
Spanish--"Las Cruces." Anyway, picking up on this, a local church in
town is called, "Church of the Crosses."
Names tend to
take on generational cycles. You can often guess a person's
approximate age by their name. In a similar way, new churches all
have similar sounding names: Saddleback, Willowcreek, Crosspoint,
Harvest, Fellowship.com (the .com is actually part of the name).
These names are very different from the names of the churches of a
generation before. Very cool.
churches have adopted secondary names that come to replace, in time,
the real name. I was in
The People's Church
a few weeks ago. That is a very cool church. It is also First
Baptist Church, Franklin, TN. Gradually, they transitioned to the
more cool name, The People's Church. Eastwood Baptist Church in
Tulsa becomes Exciting Eastwood.
in El Paso becomes Exciting Emmanuel.
Second Baptist, Houston was
known as the Fellowship of Excitement.
Building and location
One of the
rules on the mission field is that a church building ought to be at
about the same level as the banks and schools and shops and
restaurants in the community. Now, try this little test. Visit ten
banks, schools, or restaurants in your town and visit ten average
churches in your town. Which ones are cooler?
My wife and I
were talking about this at
Copeland's the other night. "Look around this place," I
commented. "It looks very different from the average church we are
in. The atmosphere is just cool." Could you say that of your church,
that the atmosphere is cool?
Kids and cool
speaking, the younger the audience, the more sensitive they are to
the cool factor. Youth are especially sensitive, and younger kids
are sensitive as well. Youth groups have learned to be cool or die.
We have run into several churches that are putting up elaborate
children's church sets,
Northpoint style. One company that does this for churches
can be found at
everything can be cool or not:
can be cool or not
can be cool or not
can be cool of not
be cool or not
can be cool or not
from the Message says, "adding luster to the teachings of our
Savior." The Living has it, "They will make people want to believe
in our Savior and God." The Amplified has it, "so that in everything
they may be an ornament and do credit to the teaching [which is]
from and about God our Savior."
That is what
being cool is. It is just an ornament. Think of a Christmas tree.
Being cool is an ornament. It is not the main thing. God and his
grace and glory and all the rest--that is the main thing. Being cool
is just an ornament on the tree. But then, what is a tree without