Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Hipster Church

Hipster...this term is being bounced around a lot these days, and probably many out there have no idea what a hipster even is.  Honestly, I'm not even sure self-proclaimed hipsters themselves really know for sure, but urbandictionary.com defines it this way:

"Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter."

It goes on to talk about how "Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often be seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses." 

Getting the picture so far?  Now before my friends and former students who may fall into this category defriend me on facebook, I'm not here to bash the "look," or the generation that falls into this category.  I want to talk about this movement in the church.  A movement that is really not new, or one that can be solely atrributed to this generation.

I'm not talking about the clothing styles.  Those styles come and go....and come again, and go again.  :)  I am talking about the part of the definition where it says, "that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter."  We have seen a continual movement in churches towards a liberal, or in church-speak, "moderate" position over the past couple of decades.  What do I mean by that?  Churches taking down crosses for fear of offending someone, sermons are watered down to the point that Scripture is a mere afterthought in regard to the delivery, word crafting, and ability to inspire.  Granted, all of these things are necessary parts of a good message, but they should not overshadow the Scripture.

Music has, and will continue to be a part of this movement.  It's easy for us to sit back and cast stones at the "younger crowd," who are exploring new types of music in worship, and forget that just a few years ago, we were doing the same thing.  The worship movement of the 90's really showcased our generation's "independent thinking, counter(church)-culture, and progressive politics.  Many of us were sure that we had to show the older generations how church worship should really be done.  Remember the church splits, ruined relationships, and battles within churches over music?  Did we REALLY usher in a new outpouring of the Spirit with our music, or did we just adjust the church to fit our own more "progressive" tastes?  Sure, change is necessary in any organization.  The church must adapt to the culture that we live in, but how far do we take that?  At what point did we cross a line that maybe we should not have?

That line for all generations should be the Bible.  It is a book that has guided the church since before Jesus walked the earth.  When we ignore what the Bible says, and do church our own way...we are being prideful and disobedient.  We are reflecting our own image, rather than that of God.  By holding up "independent thinking, counter-culture" people, we tend to see people basing their theology (or how they believe) on their own personal convictions and opinions.  While we may get some noteworthy causes from this line of thinking, the end result is a prideful worship of our own selves.  We think we know better than God, Himself.  The "Love Wins" mentality is the case study for what I'm talking about here. 

This is not about bashing a generation, plaid shirts, thick-rimmed glasses, or even skinny jeans (not my favorite style, I'll admit).  This is about pointing out our need for constant leadership and direction by the Lord, through the Scriptures.  Call it "emergant," call it "hipster," call it "traditional," call it whatever you like...the point is that over the past few years, we have ignored and forgotten the quiet humility that Jesus displayed while on this earth in favor of what we think is acceptable.  His ministry was not about what his clothes looked like, what type of music was played at church, or being accepted by those who were "In" as the popular opinions in Jewish culture.  He simply lived with the love of God, and made disciples as He taught the Word of God...while proclaiming the holiness and fear of God.

Instead of focusing on what is wrong with the church (not hip enough...etc.), can't we focus on what the greatest NEED is in our world?  Point blank, our world is in desperate need of some pure Jesus, and to know the will of God...as He taught us in the Bible.  Maybe we need to quit labeling generations and groups, and just call ourselves Jesus Followers.  Live by the Bible, love like Jesus, and long to see others know Him in the same way!