Brett McCracken has a new book coming out called Hipster Christianity, Where Church and Cool Collide”.
I haven’t read it but I am not excited about what I have seen so far. I first heard about this book when I saw on Twitter a quiz to determine how hip of a Christian you are at the very interesting and funny website for the book. My anticipation was pretty high about this book until I read the above linked WSJ article. McCracken seems to capitalize on the self deprecating humor Jason Boyett, Jon Acuff, and Matthew Paul Turner have perfected; and he has merit. However when he moves past humor to actual church formation, I think he is flat off.
McCracken is trying to lay out a path to bring young people back to the local church. Not reading the book myself I am operating off the advance reviews of others. Also let me say McCracken is getting published with a lot of momentum behind him and I write a blog that only a handful of people read (Hi Mom!).
Tried, Tired, and Lacking
I’ve been in ministry for only 5 years but I know that the easy thing to do is try and change something superficial in order to reach people. Simply changing the wardrobe of the pastor or getting them an $80 haircut isn’t going to bring back the young people. Church leaders have always fallen into this trap. Sometimes this is done well, like when the Wesley brothers reworked popular pub songs to be church music. Other times we get crappy movies with Kirk Cameron. Skinny jeans aren’t going to be the thing that gets someone to start following Jesus.
Sex, Sex, and more Sex
As churches try and appear hip McCracken states that talking about sex is the standard “go-to”. He quotes books by Laura Winner and Rob Bell as proof of this misstep. First of all I don’t think either books are somehow misappropriating human sexuality for an emotional response, being familiar with both books I don’t think either one is anything but Biblical and appropriate. Secondly, shouldn’t church leaders talk about sex? Would you rather the cast of Jersey Shore or Lady Gage to instill values concerning sexuality to our culture?
Working with a Paint Roller
The most disappointing aspect of McCracken’s thesis is similar to what has bothered me the most about aspects of the emerging church movement; both have painted with too broad of a brush. When wide ranging critiques using the pronoun “they” are employed it comes across as another “angry young man” complaining about the church. Any merit within the argument is thus written off before it can even be discussed because all some will read is another diatribe against the church.
I hope I am wrong. I hope that McCracken’s book helps start healthy conversations. Heck I hope his sales are through the roof, but I think he has missed the boat. Either be a humorous mirror for the church or share some wisdom for church leaders, trying to do both has weakened the argument and the humor.