Rolling Stone Magazine taught me something interesting about ministry today. This article is about Jamie Tworkowski and his ministry, "To Write Love On Her Arms". It profiles him as a surfer dude and hip apparel salesman who decided his life's calling was to reach out to depressed teenagers. Combining t-shirts and hoodies with compassion, hugs and simple words of hope he is making quite a splash.
It makes me think about something that has been on my mind every now and then - the place of 'cool' in the church. It's easy to be too simplistic about this and either say "the church has no business chasing after fads" or "we'll be irrelevant if we don't appeal to the next generation". I have sympathies with both sides. I definitely see ministries that seem to be so busy being 'hip' that they are shallow and off-putting to someone like me. I also see ministries that are so determined to resist even the appearance of interest in pop-culture that it is no wonder no one can relate to them.
Ultimately there is room for all types out there. I like knowing that monks on Mt. Athos are living much as they did 1500 years ago. I like having words and songs in my worship that were written by John Chrysostom. I also like being able to talk to my people and having something in common with them. It's good when we can share a laugh about the Daily Show, or my teens can introduce me to new music and I genuinely enjoy it - not just feign interest. I've never personally been a very cool person, and the thing about 'cool' is that it can't be feigned. You just look like an insecure dork when you do.
What do you think? How much 'cool' would you want in your church? In your ministry? Do you make any effort to stay current with pop-culture - or is that a huge waste of time, or worse - a path to sin and debauchery? If a given minister is 'cool' does that make his ministry more or less effective? What about the gospel itself - is it cool?