So, what’s so wrong with being cool? McCracken wrote an article in Christianity Today last September titled “Hipster Faith.” If you don’t want to take the time to read his book, this is a great introduction to what hipster Christianity can look like in churches.
“Welcome to the world of hipster Christianity. It’s a world where things like the Left Behind book and film series, Jesus fish bumper stickers, and door-to-door evangelism are relevant only as a source of irony or nostalgia. It’s a world where Braveheart youth-pastor analogies are anathema, where everyone agrees that they wish Pat Robertson “weren’t one of us” and shares a collective distaste for the art of Thomas Kinkade.” -McCracken
So, what makes a church a “hipster church”? This question can be simple and complex. You could start naming off physical attributes of a church and its congregation, but it is more important to ask whether or not a church is preaching the Truth. However, when choosing a church it is helpful to know its mission and who the church serves. McCracken lists many churches as hipster churches, among them are Mars Hill Church, Mars Hill Bible Church, Mosaic, Life on the Vine and Jacob’s Well. Some of these have been called ’emerging churches.’
McCracken outlines seven key aspects of an emerging church: Modernism is lame, Christianity is edgier and less safe than people think, the Church gets in the way of the Gospel, dialogue and conversations are better than argumentation and apologetics, story and narrative are better than propositions and systems, binaries are too simplistic, and what we do is more important than what we think or say.
The emerging church has been controversial for the last decade or so. The three main critiques are: Who are we to reinvent the church? Is it just rebellion for the sake of rebellion? Is the church taking cues from culture instead of scripture?
There is some confusion on the difference between emerging and emergent. Here is an interview with Mark Driscoll discussing the difference:
I could talk about these concepts for days, but since this is just a blog post I will let you think about them and how they have and will impact your life. These topics affect many areas in our lives like politics, art, movies and music. It is important to reflect on the critiques of the emerging and emergent church because eighteen to twenty-two-year-olds are dropping out of churches rapidly. Wannabe hip churches are driving away the young and hip with disingenuous preaching, tacky lights and fog machines. As Christians we must not trust in your own abilities to keep your own church alive. We must trust in God to provide. Only He is relevant. Driscoll and Wells touch on the fact that churches are going out of business, unfortunately the church is not doing well.
“The born-again, marketing church has calculated that unless it makes deep, serious cultural adaptations, it will go out of business, especially the younger generations.” –David Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant
I don’t have the answers to these dilemmas but I have realized that it’s imperative that we realize God is the only one that will truly accept us. All that time spent in front of a mirror is wasted. It is a well known fact that self-obsession is un-Christian, but how often do we try to avoid the sin on a daily, or even hourly basis? The Bible has been relevant for ages but our hair styles and jean cut is only relevant for six months. Which do you spend more time thinking about? And how can the church be less self-obsessed?
There is so much scripture that pertains to these topics, but I was just studying Romans 12 and was really encouraged by it. It’s super convicting and shows how much we lack in giving love.
Marks of the True Christian (ESV) Romans 12:9-16
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
Lord, help us to be transcendent instead of transient, to focus on the eternal rather than the now and to feel hope rather than feel jaded. Help us to be more like your son, and increasingly more selfless rather than self-obsessed.