The Myth of "Cool Church"

Nov 13 2016

More and more there are churches being labeled as a “cool church”. What does that really mean? For some it is said in a positive light and by others as a criticism. However perhaps there is more substance, depth, authenticity and thoughtfulness than meets the eye at first glance.

The reality is, you can’t build church on what the world says is “cool”.

Trends change all the time. Different styles and different fashions go in and out all the time. And there’s no universal definition of what “cool” actually is – what’s cool in New York City isn’t necessarily cool in rural Australia.

So what is “cool”? And what principles should we be building church on?

1. Being Genuine

More people are attracted to genuine Christians than they are attracted to “cool” Christians. The best pastors are not the “cool” pastors, but the best pastors are the faithful pastors.

Our goal should always be to say: “God, you made me how you made me. Use this broken, average vessel to reach as many people as you can”.

God is going to bless who you are, not someone you are trying to emulate.

The world is finally taking notice of what the Church is doing, so be true to who you are and what you are about. If the world is on board, then so be it – but as the Church, we need to be true to what God called us to do.

2. Being Secure

Many people think that if we don’t understand something, then we need to judge it. If we don’t know why young people are flooding into churches, then there must be something wrong. If we don’t comprehend why such a diverse crowd goes to church, then the church leadership must be preaching a false gospel – but this is such an unhealthy attitude to have.

Although we’re not striving to get people’s approval, to a degree every leader needs to be aware of how they are received and perceived, because we are called to be God’s ambassadors. We have become arrogant when we think that we do not need to consider how those around us see us.

We, as the Church, need to be okay with the world not understanding how we work. And as Christians, we need to be better at giving people the benefit of the doubt.

3. Loving People

Our goal first and foremost is always to love people. It’s to take our eyes off of ourselves and reach people.

Do we love people in our everyday life? We may be known for our awesome Sundays, but the real work of the Church – of loving and serving the people around us – happens outside our auditoriums on Monday to Saturday. We need to love the people God has put right in front of us.

Ultimately, what the world says is “cool” doesn’t change lives. It doesn’t visit people in hospitals. It doesn’t run connect groups. It doesn’t give people hope in the midst of challenge.

Let’s be committed to building church on the Kingdom principles of being genuine, secure, and devoted to loving people.


This thought was originally shared during a webinar hosted by Carl Lentz titled The Myth of “Cool Church”, during ‘Online Open Week’ in September 2016. Online Open Week is your opportunity to receive impartation and training direct from the Hillsong team through live webinars.

If you would like to watch the full recording or find out more about future events from the Hillsong Leadership Network, click below.