It’s a phenomenon spreading the nation: You’ve seen them everywhere on campus – starting with the hippest of faculty and trickling down to an abundance of students. Those iPad-toting, skinny jean-wearing, Starbucks-sipping individuals. Many have called it a look. More have called it a trend. Those who embody it have named it a lifestyle.
NU hosts a variety of Christian hipsters all belonging to different churches. These churches can be divided up by denomination, but what exactly is an Indie-hipster church?
Image to Identity
“I think that the best way to [define hipsters] would be a group of younger people who dress a specific way,” commented Kramer Rasmussen, NU alumnus and a youth pastor at The City Church.
The overall idea of “hipster” starts with a look: someone, between 20 and 30, portrayed to his or her peers in the geek chic fashion of today. It’s about standing out by fitting in – how you make a first impression, the coffee you drink, the technology you use – and how one is individually accepted.
Nonetheless, this image is quickly becoming an identity for many college students, and recently has found its reflection in the modern church.
This hipster ideology has undeniably crept its way into local churches. The debate remains as to whether or not it’s the church appealing to a younger generation or the next generation reshaping the church.
A Reflection Of The Congregation
“You have to understand and be wise to the culture,” Pastor Phil Rasmussen commented. “Mark Driscoll’s church is an urban church. It is an inner-city Ballard church, so it is drawing people that have that Seattle vibe…Mark Driscoll himself has that look.”
He then continued to comment on The City Church and Judah Smith. “There are more millionaires surrounding our area than any other… [Smith’s] method is appropriate to the culture.”
Repeatedly, students at NU have classified Chapel services as hipster over the years. Chapel reflects the Kirkland culture in appearance and caters to the students’ interest with “cool,” contemporary services.
According to Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide, Seattle ranks number seven of ten on the list of cities with Christian hipsters. Among the description of the Seattle culture, Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll made the list specifically.
Since the 1970s, McCracken argues that contemporary Christianity has prioritized ideas like “cool,” “relevant,” and “countercultural.”
Unfortunately, these notions have never been anything more than nice ideas – the church has been unsuccessful in influencing the local culture with its “hip Christianity.”
This “hip” form of religion has been successful, however, in the congregational youth as pastors intermix pop culture and Christianity. Video promos for upcoming events and the way pastors dress do have an impact on how adolescents think, act, and dress.
“I think church culture is very real; every church has a culture…I have no problem with people that want to be cool and hip and be a hipster, but if that’s not your thing, well, be you, and be who God wants you to be,” said Judah Smith, lead pastor at The City Church.
Jesus Did It Before It Was Cool
If Jesus were here today, he’d appear up-to-date with the fashion of the current time. In short, Jesus might fit into the hipster subculture.
In Biblical times, Jesus dressed accordingly. He fit the culture and didn’t try to persuade anyone to look like he did…on the outside.
Jesus called us to walk in his name as a representation of him and to make disciples in doing so. How else can Christians reach out to people lost in this world if they can’t first relate to them?
The hipster church isn’t looking to stand out and make a scene by being different. These churches are attempting to reach a demographic by using what’s available and appropriate to the culture.
|Ask NU: What are the 3 hipster churches in the area?|
|The City Church (Kirkland)Mars Hill (Bellevue)
Other (Seattle area)
- From a Pastor:
|Do you think Christians give in too much to the latest trends?||Has the church changed to a cooler, more appealing form of worship?||Does the modern church change the way the message is given?|
|Judah Smith“As leaders and spiritual teachers (in the community), we have to stay committed to the essence of the gospel no matter what the cultural trends may be.”||Kramer RasmussenEach person is going to have a different perspective on worship style, and message delivery for that matter. I don’t believe there is one “right way” to do church.||Phil RasmussenThe method will always change, but the message never does. We should embrace change and we need to change as long as we embrace the Gospel and the message stays.|
Written by Rachel Brewster & Marlene Pierce