“Cool preaching attracts people.”
This could be the thinking of church leaders who decide to go with a “cool preaching” option in order to seek growth. Or it could be the critique of traditional church folks who are looking sideways at a different church which has a perceived “cool factor” and is growing faster than their church is. When used as a critique, it tends to carry with it the implication that such a church must be dumbing down, softening, weakening, diluting or corrupting the gospel in some way.
Before critiquing the myth, I suppose both thoughts can be affirmed. Some churches do make superficial style issues a driving factor in their growth strategies and in some cases it does seem to attract people (although any style may well put others off coming in the first place, even a contemporary style).
And indeed, some contemporary styled churches have weakened the gospel leading to shallow conversions and poor discipleship. But let’s be fair here, some traditional styled churches have weakened the gospel leading to shallow conversions and poor discipleship too! Sweeping generalizations about contemporary versus traditional are very naive.
So, does cool preaching attract people? I would say that it might, but probably not. The primary people who tend to be attracted to “cool Christianity” may well be Christians whose tradition store has become overstocked and they want to try something different.
1. Christ attracts people. Re-read the gospels and notice how normal and broken people were so drawn to Jesus.
2. Christlike communities attract people. If people are not drawn to Jesus today, it is probably because their exposure to his body is cluttered by other baggage and distraction. A community being transformed by the love of God so that they love each other (like Christ) will spill outwards in love to the community (like Christ) and thereby be a magnet to broken people (like Christ).
3. Effective preaching engagingly communicates what matters. Cool preaching without biblical substance is see through. People may well see through “cool-empty” just as they may see through “traditional-empty” (although sadly there will be those who don’t see through one or the other). So what then for our preaching?
A. We must seek to get the substance right: the Bible offered engagingly, the gospel full and clear, and the presentation of God in Christ as clear as the incarnation requires.
B. We must seek to remove unnecessary obstacles: issues of delivery, packaging, presentation, and content need to be carefully evaluated to make sure that people are not choosing to walk away from the gospel because of something other than the gospel.
Being cool is not the goal in preaching, unless you are wanting to temporarily attract young disenchanted Christians. Cool is really not the issue at all, but recognize that in your pursuit of best substance, obstacle-light preaching, you will probably be critiqued for being “cool” but shallow. Make sure you’re not.