The Skinny on Hipster Christianity

There’s a video on Facebook making the rounds called Hipster Church Movement: The Lisbon – New Delhi Connection.

Its uncool and unhip in a hilarious way. Especially the dancing cat and the WWJD t-shirt. The video is made my two good friends of mine and I know their stories quite well so here is a quick explanation. They are responding in part to a conversation regarding a book called Hipster Faith. Some of the points in the book are quite good but there are many parts that are cringeworthy. Like . .

Hipster Christianity is a rather narrow subset of the faith: mostly white evangelical, mostly economically well-off.
Brett McCracken, Hipster Faith, Christianity Today

The two guys dancing in the video are Jo-Jo from New Delhi and Nuno from Portugal, who some of you will remember from our Roundtable event in Poland last year. And “white” or “economically well-off” would not describe either one of these guys. In fact, since the coffee shop Nuno was working in went out of business, Nuno is unemployed and asking God for direction.

You might be interested to know that Nuno is actually a qualified engineer who could easily make lots of money if he wanted to. Engineers visiting him in the coffee shop would sometimes get some mathematical-geek advice along with their java. When they asked why he was pouring coffee instead of planning cities he explained that he heard God calling him to give himself away into the next generation of Portuguese youth in one of the poorer parts of Lisbon and to do so through a simple, organic style of church that meets in apartments and wherever they can find space. And this is something that even the church world has problems with also, as I blogged about last year.

Nuno is a cool guy. Really cool. At our Balkan Connect gathering earlier this year in Macedonia, Nuno led us all in a moving worship-rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”. That was really cool. You could say that it was even “Hip”. But that was never a goal, just an overflow from his life that is lived out in context with a certain group of people.

THE SKINNY: Trying to be hip is simply lame and its a poor substitute for a Christlike incarnational ministry.

Same with Jo-Jo (Ravi). He’s a cool hip guy. He heads up a Production company in Delhi and manages rock bands as well as making a difference for God in his country as a Christian leader. He is not attempting to be hip or cool. He just is.

Neither one of these guys is part of the uber-branded white-evangelical money-making book-publishing conference-hosting worship-star-on-a-stage church package that some people put forward as the example of Christian Hipdom. But they ARE a part of the community of God who are living missionally and transforming their worlds in ways that are not culturally weird or shaped by a previous decade in history. If it doesn’t look like the church you attend on Sunday, well, deal with it. But don’t say its trying to be hip.

Tallskinnykiwi on the Christian Hipster quiz
Response by Carson Clark called “Musing on Hipster Faith
Youtube history of Christian Hipster Music
The other white Jones on the subject
Should church be cool?


Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)


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