Monthly Archives: September 2013

Hipsters: Has the Church Become Too Cool?

HipsterWhat does it mean if you like Mumford & Sons, you drink fair trade coffee, you sleep on organic sheets, and you sip Pabst beer (gag!) after work? It means you are a hipster. What’s a hipster? Have lunch on any Sunday at Tacolicious in the Marina/Cow Hollow district of San Francisco and you’ll see plenty of young hipsters hanging out . . . most of them trying to carry on a conversation while simultaneously glued to their smart phones.

Recently, my family took me to lunch at Tacolicious (which was a bit like taking a carnie to the symphony). Afterward, I started wondering if the church has overly targeted hipsters for membership. How so? Most of the modern churches I’ve attended lately have carefully crafted an ambiance conducive to the hipster lifestyle. Sanctuaries look more like concert venues, some even equipped with hip coffee shops in the foyer (do they still call them foyers?). Worship teams are often tattooed young adults in trendy attire. Last Sunday the piano player on our church worship team was wearing a T-shirt that said, “The Devil is a pimp . . . don’t be his ho.’” (Not quite the Apostles’ Creed, but clever nonetheless.)

Sure, there are many young adults who do not aspire to the hipster style and yet manage to live in peace among them (think the Robertson’s of Duck Dynasty). But is it wise for the church to focus so much on one segment of society? Shouldn’t the church (meaning the congregation) be flexible enough to make interesting connections with all manner of folk, even folk who don’t fit the hipster lifestyle, folk who might say or do things that don’t always align with churchy manners and customs? Yes! And not just because it is the right thing to do, but because everyone is blessed when this happens. It allows people the freedom to feel comfortable being themselves, even in church. It is not primarily the ambiance of the church nor the attire of the congregation that creates an inclusive culture. It is up to the people to create a culture that’s appealing to a variety of people. If the church wants to focus on attracting mostly hipsters, pastors had better work on paring down their sermons to 140 characters. (Just kidding . . . sort of). Now if only I could find a church for the uncouth, there I might fit in.

The Horn of Wrath

800px-Angry_woman“Don’t tell me what to do. You’re not my boss. Mind your own business, buster (or a more magical expletive).” Such words betray the uncorrectable attitude of many among us. Recently, my wife was in her car approaching an intersection. A woman stopped in front of her when there was no reason to stop. Who knows why the woman thought it necessary to stop her car; she had a clear route and the right of way. (Perhaps she was receiving an urgent text from her auto insurance company offering a safe driver discount.) Nevertheless, my wife tapped her horn to encourage the woman to proceed. The woman’s reaction was over the top. She immediately started cursing at my wife and calling her obscene names while also swerving towards her car to frighten her. The whole brouhaha occurred with two small children in the back of the woman’s car. “Nice! Classy! Papa would be proud,” I thought after my wife briefed me about the incident.

Some people seem incapable of receiving the slightest correction. I don’t know if they feel overly judged or if they grew up with parents who did nothing but criticize. Some peoples’ lives are a train wreck and this fact will spill out at the slightest provocation, such as when another driver taps their horn to get them moving. This also applies in face-to-face communication.

But Proverbs 15:1 talks about how a gentle answer turns away wrath. Note that the verse does not implore us to always remain silent. This means our TONE has a lot to do with how our words are received. We often get in such a hurry to communicate that we forget about the importance of tone.

In this age of email, texts, and tweets we may be losing some of our ability to hear the tone in our own voice. This is one reason why physical human interaction is so important to maintain the health of our communication. Will a gentle answer ALWAYS calm the other person’s wrath? No, buy it will deescalate most angry encounters. May God help us use the proper tone when communicating with one another.