Warm Is the New Cool

Summertime draws us poolside. Here in Texas, it demands the air conditioner to be on full blast and calls for lots of ice-cold lemonade to cope with the triple-digit days.
 
My wife loves the Summer, but as she faithfully follows the weather forecasts, I love it when she says, “It’s time to break out the space heaters.”
 
For me it signals the change in season from her beloved Summer, to my favorite time of year, Fall.  Yes football, and Thanksgiving, and football. . . But I also love the warmth of good fire, a sturdy coat, and the warm scent of holiday candles.  Cool is nice, but warm is lovely.
 
This contrast between cool and warm brought to mind a recent article published in the Washington Post that discussed what next generations desire from church.   
 
“So many churches pour money and energy into flashy worship services meant to make teenagers and young adults think that church is cool,” cites Dr. Kara Powell, of the Fuller Youth Institute. “But it turns out cool isn’t what young people want. Forget the rock-band vibe and the flashing lights. Warm is the new cool.”
 
Of course this caused me to reflect on what draws me to YG, the vibrant young adult ministry of Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church. And admittedly for me, amidst all the cool aspects of YG, I am drawn to the warm-hearted people of Younger Generation Church.
 
Powell, and her co-authors Jake Mulder and Brad Griffin, go on about their recent research, saying, “When we analyzed the terms that young adults used to describe the churches or parishes that they chose, we noticed repeated words: welcoming, accepting, belonging, authentic, hospitable and caring. We began to call this the ‘warmth cluster.’”
 
Reflecting personally on Dr. Powell’s research, what struck me was how valuable and important the “warmth cluster,” is to the Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church. In my conversations with young and older alike, I have found people drawn to the “Arlington Experience,” because of the warmth of our people. Sure the “cool stuff” is fun, but when it comes down to it, we are attracted to warm relationships that feel like family.
 
Powell and her colleagues strongly affirm this in their Washington Post article:
“Across the board in statistical analyses, this warmth cluster emerged as a stronger variable than any ministry program. . . By suggesting that churches need to grow warmer, we don’t mean adults should be nice to young people. Nice does not cut it. And warmth is more than superficial community. It’s ‘like family’ — as young people told us again and again during our interviews and field visits. . . It takes time and commitment to move past the superficiality of lobby hellos into the intimate space of authenticity.”
 
Warm is the new cool.
 
In this new season, may we engage each other and our world with the accepting warmth of Jesus. Yes it takes time, but if we intentionally are welcoming, hospitable, and faithfully caring to each other—especially to next generations—great lifelong connections can be made. . . Not only for this season, but also for eternity. 
 
A. Allan Martin, PhD, is the teaching pastor for Younger Generation Church, the vibrant young adult ministry of Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church, ygchurch.com