Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady

Want to receive Fire in My Bones by email? Sign up here
partying teens

If you’ve ever wandered into an Abercrombie & Fitch store, you know about coolness. The retailer markets its line of sweaters, hoodies and overpriced T-shirts using dim lighting, funky music and wall-sized photos of buff models wearing $98 jeans. But the store began losing customers this year when it became known that CEO Mike Jeffries only wanted thin, popular teens to wear his clothes.

“A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes],” Jeffries said in an interview, adding that he only wanted “cool, good-looking people” wearing the A&F label. His policy has now officially backfired. Upset parents threw out tons of the retailer’s clothes, activist teens staged a boycott, and a guy from California launched a video campaign urging people to give the uber-cool A&F duds to homeless people in protest.

All this proved that sometimes being cool is, in fact, not cool—especially when cool becomes exclusionary.

When I read about the demise of Abercrombie & Fitch, I couldn’t help but compare the store with some churches I know. I’ve never heard a pastor say from the pulpit that he “only wanted the cool people,” but sometimes we send this message subliminally. In today’s market-driven church culture, cool is the goal. We pursue it in several ways:

Cool music. I love high-energy worship as much as anyone, and I try to keep my playlists updated. But I hope we aren’t using trendiness as the gauge to measure the depth of our worship. Cool music can sometimes turn out to be a shallow performance. Sometimes it might be best to dig out a 30-year-old chorus or a 200-year-old hymn just to remind ourselves that our generation isn’t the center of the universe. And speaking of age: It might not look cool to include older people in the worship team, but I have a feeling God would prefer to affirm every age group.

Cool technology. I knew a young man who attended a popular worship school for six months. When he came back to his home church, he complained that leaders “didn’t know how to do church” because they didn’t follow the latest rules about PowerPoint, lighting and Internet broadcasting. He was bitten by the cool bug—which can sometimes turn people into jerks. I have no problem with technology, but I fear we are using it as a substitute for the anointing of the Spirit. If God shows up in one of our services and everyone hits the floor, I doubt we will care too much about what we had planned to project on our 72-foot-wide screens.

Cool people. I used to be part of a ministry that targeted university students with the gospel. It was a great strategy, but it had its downside. Since we were trying to reach young people, the old people were not cool. This also applied to blue-collar types, single moms and homeless folks who occasionally wandered into meetings. It got so bad that one woman was asked to get off the worship team because she was overweight. Yet Jesus didn’t judge people based on body type, ethnicity or age. He reached out to widows, dying children, blind beggars, soldiers, lepers and even demoniacs. And sometimes the really cool people—like the rich young ruler—walked away from Him.

Cool crowds. We often define coolness in our culture by the size of the audience. We get an adrenaline rush when we jump on the bandwagon with everyone else. Crowds can be great (it would have been cool to be an eyewitness at the feeding of the 5,000), yet many people in the Bible defined courage by standing alone in defiance of the crowd. I have spoken to large and small audiences and everything in between, and I’ve learned that the Holy Spirit is just as willing to move among a group of 25 as He is in the biggest church in town.

Cool theology. This is where we really need to be careful. Today it’s cool to preach safe, seeker-sensitive messages about love and grace just to get people in the door of the church. To avoid offending anyone, we stay away from certain topics that our culture has deemed off-limits. It’s definitely not cool today to preach about (1) the consequences of sin and the need for repentance, (2) why sexual sin is still unhealthy or (3) the fact that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.

Abercrombie & Fitch made a huge marketing mistake by pursuing coolness. If we use a similar strategy to grow churches, it will backfire. Jesus never said, “Follow Me, and everyone will think you are cool.” Rather He told us, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20, NASB). We are called to make faithful disciples—and that will never be cool in the eyes of the world. At some point, we have to leave the adolescent realm of cool to reach spiritual maturity.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of the Mordecai Project ( You can follow him on Twitter at @leegrady. He is the author of The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale and other books.

Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Did you enjoy this blog? Click here to receive it by email.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Rev. Samuel Rodriguez was the first Hispanic pastor in history to pray at a presidential inauguration.

    At Trump Inauguration, Charismatic Leaders Pray Boldly in Jesus' Name. Is This Foreshadowing a New Day in America?

    It was an amazing day to let religious freedom ring in America.

  • Pastor Jim Garlow in a file photo shown praying.

    Conservative Christian Leaders Gather in DC, Calling Trump's Election an Answer to Prayer

    "Although the news media is predicting protests, what I'm seeing is that everyone is abuzz ...

  • Donald Trump certainly needs your prayers.

    Why You Must Pray for Donald Trump

    Here are eight ways I plan to intercede for President Trump regularly.

  • When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what was going on!

    Jennifer LeClaire Releases Urgent Prophetic Warning Over Washington, D.C.

    When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what ...

  • Here's a prophetic word for Washington, D.C.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Raising Up Daniels in DC

    I believe we're on the precipice of a Third Great Awakening the Lord spoke to my heart about in ...

  • Does any of this reflect what's going on in your marriage?

    9 Characteristics of a Healthy Sexual Relationship for a Believer

    A healthy sexual relationship for a Christian couple takes effort, and it's worth working for.

  • Churches don't address this topic affecting women.

    The Secret Sorrow Women Carry

    This woman breaks the silence about a taboo subject to help restore many women.

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit