This month’s cover story in Christianity Today is on “Hipster Faith.” (It is also available online). When I read it yesterday, I was struck with one of the statements that it makes about the faith, theology and beliefs of the so-called Hipster Christians: “It’s a world where things like the Left Behind book and film series, Jesus fish bumper stickers, and door-to-door evangelism are relevant only as a source of irony or nostalgia.”
When I read that, I was struck with how similar some of that is to how I have often felt about the Church, especially the Evangelical part of the Church, even though I am at least a bit older than most of the identified individuals (the article mentions that in one group “Almost everyone in the audience was under 35″). But beyond these issues, it looks like these so-called hipsters also share some of my other concerns with early twenty-first century American Evangelical Christianity. The article also says:
It’s a rebellion against old-school evangelicalism and its fuddy-duddy legalism, apathy about the arts, and pitiful lack of concern for social justice. It’s also a rebellion against George W. Bush—style Christianity: American flags in churches, the Ten Commandments in courtrooms, and evangelical leaders who get too involved in conservative politics, such as James Dobson and Jerry Falwell.
And a few paragraphs later:
They cringe at the thought of an altar call, and the prospect of passing out tracts gives them nightmares.
I also recall, but cannot find in my skim for references and quotes, a mention about the anti-intellectualism of many people in the Evangelical part of the Church. There are also mentions about “megachurch Christianity … —with its emphasis on ‘soul-winning’ at the expense of everything else” and an emphasis on premillennialism.
All of these are also things I share to a lesser or grater extent; with premillennialism, legalism, politics and the idea of passing out tracts (and similar types of semi-impersonal evangelism) being of more concern than the others. (For what it is worth, many of the churches I’ve been a member of or regular attender of have regularly had both an American flag and a Church flag on the alter, but few made any deal of it most of the time.)
On the other hand, unlike the people described in the article, I am mostly happy with “contemporary” worship styles, as well as traditional worship styles (at least when it has some structure). I’m not sure if I’d be comfortable with the more casual cafe style of worship (but would be willing to try it at some point)
I do have problems with churches that tend to use the same few songs over and over, or repeat three and four line praise choruses repeatedly, and appreciate it when old hymns get pulled into contemporary praise style worship. But, perhaps that is where my age shows.
Of course none of this is real likely to cause me to change churches at this point. We are quite happy with our current church (Green Valley Church), nor does it address some of my other concerns with many of the moden (mega- and mini-mega-) churches, but at least it does make me realize that I’m not the only more-or-less theologically conservative Christian that is not altogether happy with the current state of the church.