The problem with the Christian hipster movement
A self-confessed 'Chripster' on how trends can stop us fulfilling our calling.
I’m probably not the only one who has seen the evolution of the Christian culture over the last few years.
Dead giveaways include: thick-rimmed glasses, closets full of flannel, and a few coffee shop punch cards. This hipster crowd may also include perfectly quaffed beards, guitar-strumming capabilities, and an unusual fascination with hammocks. Bonus points are included if they follow the “Hymns for Hipsters” playlist on Spotify.
Some call this mini-society the “Chripster” nation (Christian + hipster). It’s become a growing trend over the past decade, and it is most popular among white, middle class societies.
Although there is nothing inherently wrong with such a culture, I feel it important to point out a few cautions I have with the recent trend.
But before I do, I’ll first admit I am a huge offender of many of the dead giveaways previously listed. This post is as much a message to me as it is to the Church. I’ve found my home in this ‘Chripster’ culture in the last few years, and honestly I have seen some amazing things come of it. Friendships. Community. Incredible wisdom. And Chacos, man. I am not ashamed to say how much I love my Chacos. But I’ve come to understand that even this wonderful representation of the Church can have its weaknesses.
1. It can make church feel exclusive
As those in the church know, God’s message and salvation is for EVERYONE! God makes very clear throughout the entirety of the Bible that He desires a relationship with each of his children. That includes people of EVERY tongue, tribe, and nation. That includes every race, gender, age, sexuality, and personality. We are ALL called to pursue Jesus.
The church is not looking for cookie-cutter clones, or one specific type of personality. Christ died for EVERYONE. And if all Christians look/act/dress the same, are we really depicting the universal church we are called to help build?
2. It can put too much focus on appearances
I’ll be the first one to admit that sometimes I spend WAY more time cleaning up how I look on the outside rather than cleaning up the filth on my heart. And that’s a dangerous game; we think that because we look like other ‘Chripsters’, we are right in our relationship with Christ, too. But that only makes us blind to the idol we make of our appearance.
Friends, your faith should be more than a cross necklace and a Chaco tan.
It’s not that Jesus wants you to throw out everything in your closet. That is not the point I’m making at all. But maybe we need to evaluate what is more important to us: is it our relationship with Christ, or is it simply looking like we have a relationship with Christ?
You may be making yourself look good with that Instagram post of your early morning devotion, but God sees right through our vanity. He can tell if that morning was spent on Him or if it was spent trying to see how many likes you could get.
More simply put: God knows if you’re doing things for His glory, or for yours.
3. It can distract us from our mission
If we are always hanging out with each other, who is hanging out with non-believers?
If you have given your heart to Christ, I guarantee you that it is God’s will for you to spread that invitation to others, too. But how are we supposed to do that if we are always hanging out with other Christians?
In my opinion, the best way to actually share the gospel with those who don’t believe is to build a solid relationship first. That means initiating friendships and being intentional about your time. That means stepping outside of what feels comfortable to you. You don’t have to go to a third-world country to start expanding God’s kingdom. It starts with where He has put you in this time of your life.
Just as one of my favorite quotes from Dick Hillis says: “”Every heart with Christ, a missionary; every heart without Christ, a mission field.”
Hipsters, step outside your comfort zone
What I don’t want you to hear is that you have to go out and change your entire personality. If suspenders and obscure banjo music is your thing, then do your thing. But I also encourage you to not try to fit a mold that you are not. You wouldn’t be doing yourself any favors. Variety is a GOOD thing, and it actually helps the expansion of the Church.
So lastly, let’s make a conscious effort to engage with people outside of this ‘Chripster’ culture. Yes, you should absolutely be seeking wisdom and support and community within your church. And yes, I know that we gravitate toward people that are similar to us. But remember the duties you have as a Christ-follower. Remember that you are an ambassador of Christ, on the inside and the outside.
So let’s set our hearts on Christ, reassess our motivations, and challenge ourselves to venture outside of our comfortable, quirky bubbles every once in awhile.