There always seems to be a cycle to “coolness.”  Something becomes a big hit, everyone gets into it…and then it is “over-played” or eventually loses it’s novelty and then becomes cheesy if you continue doing it.

Screen shot 2014-01-08 at 8.40.17 AMThink about how some of these things used to be the center of coolness:

  1. Planking
  2. Chubby Bunny
  3. Photo Bombs
  4. Furby Hungwy
  5. POGS
  6. Nerdery
  7. Or, how about the lazer background in school pictures..?

Well, guess which one of these is coming back into the center of Pop Culture….

YOUGeneration is a hit television show in the UK, and they have been doing Chubby Bunny contests (seeing who could eat the most marshmallows while still being able to say, “Chubby Bunny”) with some of the biggest young stars of today. They’ve done it with One Direction, Cher Lloyd, Kimberly Wyatt….on and on.

Maybe things that would be considered “cheesy youth group games” to us are, well, cool again?

christian hipsterChristian hipsters.

How can you not love them? They make your church feel relevant.

(Whether it is or not.)

Ever eavesdrop on them?

I have. They’ve actually never said any of what I’m about to write. I’ve found them to be quite awesome, intelligent people. I feel cool just for knowing them, especially since I buy my clothes at Old Navy and Wal-Mart.

Then again… I know there’s a stereotype out there for a reason. Don’t we all imagine their world has hip lingo that goes something like this?

  • “Dear God, bless this food I’m about to upload pictures of to Instagram.”
  • “Why yes, that is a coffee stain on my Bible.”
  • (texts pastor during sermon) “I like where you’re going. Only you should totally quick add this ancient Russian poem into your talk right now…”
  • “Time to pick out my skinny jeans for the day. White or orange?”
  • “Skinny jeans are sort of like the denim version of unleavened bread.”
  • “Give me a moment. I’m trying to pray about the right profanity to use here.”
  • “I used to play the guitar in our worship band. Now I play the rhythm egg.”
  • “This past weekend I went on a spiritual hike into the woods with my sketch book, an avocado and God…”
  • “I was thinking for the church potluck I’d bring a ceramic pitcher from Pier One full of scalding hot water and some organic fair-trade coffee from Mustard Seed served in a Mr.T lunchbox. Then for the adults…”
  • “I’m sensing God wants me to do a 40-day fast from facial hair, but He didn’t say anything about my neck hair. So I think I’m just going to grow that out by itself… you know, like Job did.”
  • “No, I don’t keep a prayer journal. And I gave up on phone apps last year. Now I use post-it notes.”
  • “I’m not into labeling my faith. If you really twisted my arm on it, I’d just say ‘Ouch.’ Then I’d pray for you.”
  • “Why, no… it’s not a sash meant for the cross. It’s my scarf.”
  • “My church just upgraded its podcast technology. Now you can download our sermons on vinyl.”
  • “You can’t begin to fully appreciate the original language of the Bible until you read it in German.”
  • ‘My ‘group’ this past week was awesome. We rocked out a spontaneous ‘Lord’s Supper’ together with Greek Yogurt and bacon bits.”
  • “You’ll really like my church. The sermons are so ‘Blue Man Group’ and the worship is an acoustic ‘Insane Clown Posse.'”
  • “I usually park in the furthest spot in the parking lot. That way I ‘love my neighbor’ and get some good cardio out of it.”
  • “Are your communion wafers vegetarian?”

Believe it or not, someone actually called me once and asked me that last question.

Like I said, though – I love Christian hipsters and their heart for God. They have a valid place in the Body of Christ. Perhaps it’s just that they (like any Christian subculture) have a stereotype we enjoy.

What else have you heard (or imagined) the Christian Hipster nation is musing about?

Share your thoughts. Link it to them. They’ll get a kick out of it.

UPDATE: I want to briefly address one perspective on what I’ve written. Someone shared on Faceook, “Articles like this are why 20-30 year olds are leaving the church. imagine instead of this being about christian hipsters, it was about your senior adult members? It’s hard to say you really love someone when you keep the stereotypes going…uhhh.”

Without changing the content of what I’ve shared, let me add this – what’s your thought on when it is appropriate vs inappropriate to laugh at our own subcultures? Maybe there is a better way to do it than humor. Then again, I’m the guy who bought the book “Stuff Christians Like” as a Christmas gift for my church staff.

Perhaps there are some topics we need to laugh at in order to have a conversation about them. We’re all a bit absurd, whether we’re drawing lines on how we shouldn’t draw lines, or peeling off labels that only create more labels. I’ve seen enough videos and posts about the stereotypes I fall into – some absolutely appropriate, and others “not so much.” How can we point out what it means to be subjective without being subjective? Thanks for your thoughts!

I was asked recently why/how I got into youth ministry. I told him clearly it was for the money!

After we had a good hearty laugh (sigh), I described how my great youth ministry experience as a student and in particular thinking my youth pastor was super cool got me thinking about getting into the ministry for myself. Besides giving him the Sunday school answer of “because God told me to” these were definitely catalysts the Lord used to make his calling me into ministry much more clear as I graduated high school.

This answer, however, spurred another question. He said, “You seem like a guy who students would think is cool, but you’re also a young guy. Will your coolness expire as you get older?”

I told him confidently that love, care, presence, and availability for students and a passion for God will always make me cool. It’s not about my clothes (lame), my knowledge of Justin Bieber or Kate Upton trivia (lacking), or my taste in movies and TV (vastly superior). It’s about pursuing God and being willing to engage students so they can do the same. I told him there were tons of youth pastors in their 40’s and 50’s and even more volunteers that age and older. It was a great opportunity to share the awesomeness of youth workers, especially the veterans!

I only hope I can be an effective youth worker 20 years from now and not take the sucker bait to accept the demotion to adult ministry… Well, unless God tells me to.

Matt Johnston is the High School Pastor at Journey of Faith in Manhattan Beach, CA. If you’re into it, you can check him out on twitter here and he blogs occasionally here. Also, be praying for him as he’s a Dodgers fan and baseball season is about to start. It will be a rough 6 months.