A hipster is someone who enjoys fashion, music, and food that are outside of the cultural mainstream. They not only keep up with social change, but seem to stay ahead of the trend. This includes independent thinking, politics and witty banter according to the Urban Dictionary. Hipsters are typically early-adopters of new music and new culture. Did you just find a band you love? They probably went to the band’s first concert three years ago and are Instagram buddies.
I don’t think anyone really takes issue with the grooviness of hipsterdom. The concern in the church seems to be we’re missing hard-hitting gospel truth by softening messages to fit a tolerance-minded crowd with esoteric beliefs. Do you think that’s true?
Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide is quick to point out hip does not equal relevance. “We are to be a counterculture—in and not of the world, accepting yet not acquiescent, flexible but not compromising, progressive though not by the world’s standards. True relevance is not about making faith fit into a hipster sphere as opposed to a fundamentalist box. True relevance is seeking the true faith that transcends all boxes and labels.” McCracken writes more about “Hipster Faith” in Christianity Today.
Why do we have this hipster movement in the church? Research shows that millennials want real over cool. It seems that when young adults go to church they expect it to be well, church-y.
So, let’s welcome the impact of hipster Christians in our churches. Here are three things we can learn from our hipster friends:
1. Embrace the Unknown
Hipsters seem to have an innate ability to know the “next thing” before it’s the “next thing.” They may have some ideas to help you anticipate the needs of the church and community. Let them dream, plan and explore ideas with you. They have their finger on the pulse of culture. That doesn’t have to be a threat, it can be a catalyst.
2. Chew on Truth
Above all hipsters are seeking truth. Yes, this can be taken too far into being so relevant, politically correct and esoteric that they miss the point altogether, but hipsters aren’t the only ones who’ve done that. We can learn from each other to dig into scripture and discuss and share what we’re learning and discovering. Bigger questions and deeper answers can be grappled with together.
3. Creativity and Diversity
Hipsters often are creative, diverse and innovative. Empower these gifts and make a space for them. If you’ve ever wondered where are the young adults are or where all the creatives are, ask a hipster! Creativity breeds creativity. Let them know they’re valued.
We all need to keep ourselves in check from hipster to traditional and every church and ministry in between. Are we making truth attractive and relevant? If so, have at it! Or, are we trying to come up with an alternative for truth with cushiony messages that don’t offend so everyone can feel cozy in the pew? You might need to rethink that.
The church is responding to culture by minimizing the gap between the churched and the unchurched, which is good. The danger is if we’re sacrificing truth for attendance and choosing style over discipleship.
Do you think hipster Christians are on to something?