1.30.2009

Hip Church

Hip Christianity has been around for a long time. In college, I used to walk past the hip evangelical Christian fellowship that met in the Student Union; they had the requisite praise band and pizza. I was part of the decidedly unhip ecumenical Christian gathering. Our budget didn't allow for pizza very often, and if a praise band showed up we would have probably asked if they knew How Great Thou Art. Our newsletter was (and I believe still is) prepared on a typewriter, pasted together, and published on whatever pastel paper was at the top of the heap. And not in an ironic way; the elderly secretary who'd been there for years simply preferred to do things the way she had since the 60s (save for the mimeograph; they did upgrade to a copier). We were also way, way smaller than the hipster groups.

It's a pattern I continue to encounter to this day. Yeah, there's more than enough unhip Joel Osteen type megachurches to go around, but there's also a ton of Generation X/Y ministries that are dripping with coolness. I finally got around to reading the NYT article about Mark Driscoll and his hipster version of Calvinism. A couple weeks ago I caught a piece called The Role of Design in Church Marketing, which is all about the preponderance of grungy elements in church branding. You know, to appeal to the cool kids. To show that being a a Jesus type doesn't mean being square.

I like good design. I respond to postmodern aesthetics. But I also cringe a bit when I encounter the hip church movement. I don't know if it's because I'm a cultural elephant when it comes to my church preferences, having grown up, trained, and served in churches that haven't changed much since the 60s. Or am I protective of the folks who aren't young and hip and keen on irony? Is adopting a hipster attitude and aesthetic the only way for a church to grow?

It makes me tired.

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