WallStreet Journal

‘How can we stop the oil gusher?” may have been the question of the summer for most Americans. Yet for many evangelical pastors and leaders, the leaking well is nothing compared to the threat posed by an ongoing gusher of a different sort: Young people pouring out of their churches, never to return.

As a 27-year-old evangelical myself, I understand the concern. My peers, many of whom grew up in the church, are losing interest in the Christian establishment.

Recent statistics have shown an increasing exodus of young people from churches, especially after they leave home and live on their own. In a 2007 study, Lifeway Research determined that 70% of young Protestant adults between 18-22 stop attending church regularly.

Statistics like these have created something of a mania in recent years, as baby-boomer evangelical leaders frantically assess what they have done wrong (why didn’t megachurches work to attract youth in the long term?) and scramble to figure out a plan to keep young members engaged in the life of the church.

Increasingly, the “plan” has taken the form of a total image overhaul, where efforts are made to rebrand Christianity as hip, countercultural, relevant. As a result, in the early 2000s, we got something called “the emerging church”—a sort of postmodern stab at an evangelical reform movement. Perhaps because it was too “let’s rethink everything” radical, it fizzled quickly. But the impulse behind it—to rehabilitate Christianity’s image and make it “cool”—remains.

Read the article.

I remember in the late 80’s, how a lot of your bigger churches started these movements called worship/praise bands. There were some who said it would never catch on. By the mid 90’s everyone was starting a worship/praise band or were secretly wishing they could get the patriarchal members of the church to allow them to have one.

As we entered into the new millennium, worship /praise bands were “old hat” and the seekers in the church were talking about “emerging”.  Before long all of the seekers wanted to be a part of the emerging church and post modern beliefs became acceptable in the church.

Now we have the Hipster movement which is really a continuation of the emerging/post modern movement.

It is my belief and opinion (you can’t stop reading now if you’d like) that these movements happen because , Young believers (not in age but spiritual maturity) are trying to hold on to the church and make it appealing, to the culture around them. We say we don’t care about numbers but almost everyone wants to belong to or attend a mega-church. Young Pastors are hypnotized by popularity, culture and the lie that bigger is better. Therefore the church seems to take a “by any means necessary” approach to packing their pews, comfy padded chairs on any given Sunday or Saturday afternoon (if you’re really hip).

I believe in contextualization and being relevant to the people you are trying to reach, but at what cost? We’re so busy trying to be cool, we forget about the Gospel.  Mega-churches are not the problem. Being hip is not the problem. Removing biblical preaching is the problem. God’s word does not have to have any gimmicks in order to make it appealing to this generation nor does the Holy Spirit  need are help in enticing people to come to Jesus.

As a young pastor, the temptation is to build our ministry around us. We forget it’s all about Him. Pray for these “hipster” churches. Pray that they’ll be faithful to the Gospel and reaching people in Jesus’ name instead of their own.

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About Chuck Mullis

I am the husband of Valerie and the father of Russell & Hannah. I am a self-employed contractor living in rural North Carolina as well as an ordained Southern Baptist Minister serving Living Water Baptist Church.

3 responses »

  1. Slamdunk says:

    Good post. It is difficult to balance appeal and Biblical truths.

    On the praise band service of years ago, I did have to laugh at how some congregations try to be youth-friendly and offer this service: at 8 am on Sunday morning. They must have had some dedicated young folks to regular wake at 0700 on a Sunday.

  2. Roman Asia says:

    Hipster Christianity is not anything else than a group of “religious” people trying to be as worldly as they can and feel it is okay because they sing cool worship songs.

    No exaggeration, but I know MANY people who refuse to hear anything about the good news of Christ because of the hipster movement. And many of the ones I know who have become involved in hipster-driven churches are the most worldly people I have met. For many of them, it’s all about a worship experience and being cool. After all, we would not want to embarrass ourselves with the deeper teachings of Jesus. Lady GaGa and the rest of the filth-laden pop-culture driven world may not approve!

    I have three things to say to the so-called “counter-culture” church “movement”

    1. You are turning away more people from discipleship than you are bringing to it.
    2. Remember: Today’s “Hipster” is tomorrow’s “traditionalist”
    3. You are not as hip and cool as you think you are.

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