We should mourn the loss of Ritual in a deconstructed world that wishes to be rid of signs and instead grab hold of the thing it represents in itself instead of recognising that without the crust the kernel is nothing and the very thing that shapes the nut is its shell. And so we give the message as it is and think nothing of the medium as if to kill the conveyor says nothing about the message itself.
Christ has a gospel and we are his messengers. The church should be defined by a set of values and goals which should be reflected in the kind of relationships, buildings, structures and budgets we develop. This has architecturally fleshed itself out over the years in many ways from temporary tent meetings, ancient temples, gothic Cathedrals, plain white baptist chapels and empty warehouses filled with only the barely essential furnitures. One thing we cannot say is that the forms say nothing about the theology of these successive ages.
The culture has its own theology as well, so what are we supposed to do when we find ourselves surrounded by it and not wanting to alienate them, otherwise the opportunity to speak is lost. We also recognise that the reason why they are them is because we are not like the world or shouldn’t be. So care should always be taken when adopting cultural liturgies for Christian worship, so as not to imbibe the theology as well. This is the mistake that Hipster Christianity sometimes makes.
When Church and Cool collide the gathering is not different from the concert down the road, the spotlight on the stage, glitter beard and EDM is not the message but simply the medium, but it also shapes the way the gospel is perceived by the hearer who also has their own culture defined expectations. The coming in of the outsider has no prerequisites but the willingness to come. The challenge on both sides however, is that the comer must be willing to change and the Church must be willing to make room of the newbie to find a home to be. The Cathechumen must also be ready to be instructed about the challenge of this new life in which they need to be fitted for.
The Church in its efforts to accommodate must be careful to not feed them the same fleeting experience driven telos surely not built to last but feeds the customer with a diet of the same ol’. Although Christ is incarnate we cannot lose the other worldliness of this one who comes to us from another place, sent by another one but nevertheless veiled in flesh.
I recommend the following for more on the Hipster Christianity phenomenon.
- Brett McCraken’s – “The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity” and his book – “Hipster Christianity: When Church And Cool Collide“.
Taffy Brodesser-Akner – “What Will Cool Jesus Do“, a profile on Justin Beiber’s Church, Hillsong NYC.
Mere Fidelity podcast on the above mentioned article.