Have you ever wanted to be “cool?” In school did you want to sit at the “cool kid’s” table? At work, do you want to be invited to lunch with the cool people? I tend to live on the edge of that line — somehow crossing into the cool zone (occasionally), while also remaining in the almost cool zone. Let’s be honest, we all want to be liked, remembered, favored, found attractive –Â you know — cool.
In leadership and ministry this feeling and desire does not go away just because we are followers of Christ. In fact, there are many leaders who are leaders simply because they want to be thought highly of, for their name to be remembered, etc. This desire to be cool and loved in the church should be based on our love for Christ and how He has loved us — therefore, we love others. But we also have a fleshly desire that we battle everyday. When the flesh wins then you get a leader who will do just about anything to be popular.Â Even growing out a small â€œsoul patchâ€ on his lower lip because now he is in youth ministry that that seems to be required.
When this desire for coolness causes one to cross lines of conventionality you have entered into a danger zone. You must have a mechanism that drives you to constantly ask the question, “Why are we doing this?” It should be deeper than, “it’s cool.” Let me give you a real live example. Organizers of a youth conference put together a series of slides that used a phrase that I will not give here due to itsâ€™ vulgarity. The slides were designed to be humorous and to fill time while the kid’s filtered into an auditorium before a worship service. Â The organizers had heard youth using the phrase, but did not take the time to check and see what the phrase actually meant. They assumed they knew, and went forward with adding it to the slides. (Please don’t ask, I won’t tell you what the phrase was)
Most of the youth, and none of the leaders truly knew what it meant. All they knew is that others were saying it, and it was “cool.” However, the very few “cool” kids they were trying to reach with their adult coolness, now are laughing inside and now know for sure they these adults and “organizers” are not “cool.” The desire to be “culturally relevant” and “cool” now has caused them to cross that unseen line that now has caused a mess. The phrase made it’s way back to the homes of the youth where the true meaning became known. Now the youth pastors and helpers have a situation they wished would just go away.
While my next example is not truly a childrenâ€™s ministry example, and Stanley Spadowski is not your children’s director,Â but I think you will get the idea.
Watch Out When the Children’s Pastor Brings a Fire Hose Into Church!
Imagine your childrenâ€™s pastor doing things like this with kids.Â You can make it fun without shooting kids across the room with a fire hose. So how do you keep this from happening?
- Build in a System that asks the hard question, â€œWhy are we doing this?â€ The answer should be deeper than, â€œitâ€™s cool.â€ How does this graphic, event, game, etc. fit into the over all strategy and plan for the church or ministry? This system should include someone other than you. Build a team around you that doesnâ€™t mind questioning you about the â€œmaster plan.â€
- As a leader itâ€™s ok to not be â€œcoolâ€ or to live in that gray area in-between. You donâ€™t have to rush out to buy parachute pants, a single glove, grow a soul patch, get a Mohawk, a red jacket with zippers all over it, or write â€œcoolâ€ fifty times in your blog entry.
My last example is when enthusiasm and excitement cross the line into some weird place that does little to reach a lost world for Christ.Â Watch the baptistery!
 What do you mean you donâ€™t have a â€œmaster plan?â€ Dude (or Dudettte) you need to get one. You should not be scratching around for games and a lesson on the Sunday afternoon before the youth gathering Sunday night. Call me; weâ€™ll put something together!