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Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  315 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Insider twentysomething Christian journalist Brett McCracken has grown up in the evangelical Christian subculture and observed the recent shift away from the "stained glass and steeples" old guard of traditional Christianity to a more unorthodox, stylized 21st-century church. This change raises a big issue for the church in our postmodern world: the question of cool. The q ...more
Paperback, 255 pages
Published August 1st 2010 by Baker Books (first published 2010)
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Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

I was hoping that this book would be funny, honestly. It
Bj Richardson
Opening chapter 10 Brett writes:

"Of all my church visits during the research for this book, the churches that frustrated me the most - the ones that, to be honest, I had a hard time sitting through - were those that I call "wannabe" hip churches... These churches were the worst at disguising their desperate hope to be hip. They clearly endeavored to be palatable to the cool kids. But mostly they just looked sad and desperate, uncomfortable in their own skin and too hip for their own good."

How ir
Rebekah ODell
I picked up this book at a very-sadly-closing Borders Friday night based solely on how hard the book’s promotional website made me laugh at work on Friday. Let me say from the outset — I understand that this won’t be a book everyone rushes to read. It’s a niche book — a niche which happens to interest me — so, I won’t be offended if you don’t take my recommendation because it doesn’t interest you.

More sociology of religion than religon, McCracken undertakes a journalistic approach to dissecting
McCracken tackles the question, "Are cool and Christianity compatible?" Ultimately, he argues that they are not although he acknowledges that some Christians may be cool people. Church leaders and churches cannot fabricate "cool Christianity." His discussion in part one about the nature of cool is well presented. He argues that people are image conscious and they want to be recognized. Then, in the second part, he describes Christian hipsters and their churches. I found that section both the mos ...more
Let me start by saying that I would not recommend this book to most people I know.

Actually, I'd go so far as to say that a very small grouping of people (irony) would benefit from this. BUT I must say, I actually enjoyed this book.

Definitely a nice change of pace from what I've been reading lately. At some points, it was pretty illuminating to see tendencies in the church amongst young people and to see where they derived from. One of my favorite chapters was essentially a history of "cool" in
I decided to give this book a try because I was becoming increasingly aware that I might actually be part of the "Hipster Christian" generation: the so-called "emergent church". Little did I know that my church was actually included as an example of a "hipster church" in it (and was the only British church to feature significantly). That was unsettling. I don't think our leadership are too comfortable about that either.

Proximity to subject aside, it was interesting reading the history and drive
Brett's descriptive abilities are showcased well here, and he did a great job spanning the scene across the country. But I was just as impressed with his ability to synthesize so many writers/pastors and church experiences. To get Donald Miller and David Wells into the same pages is no small feat. As evangelicalism broadens and fragments, getting different "camps" to see the others is a great service to the church. I was thrilled to see how he made Wells accessible to a crowd that might not read ...more
I'm not the intended audience for this book, being LDS, but I am a recovering hipster with an interest in the debates surrounding emergent Christianity. The best stuff is in the middle and final sections of the book, and the author makes some powerful arguments against allowing cultural influences to infringe on religion.

The first section was a bit long on the "what is hip?" discussion, but likely seemed that way because having been steeped in hipster culture, I don't need it defined for me.

It starts slow, but give this book a chance. This is a well-documented and researched take on the hipster movement and its influence on Christianity. Who knew hipsterdom could be so well defined? I really appreciated the author's thoughts on what happens when the church tries too hard to be cool... and that if we are authentic in our faith, people will see and be attracted to that rather than the latest branding of Jesus or a church. Good for Christian hipsters, wannabe hipsters, those who don't ...more
Adam Ross
Took me a while to finish this one, because I ended up savoring it in small chunks. Brett McCracken sketches the history and implications of what he calls "hipster christianity." A self-identified hipster, Brett has grown concerned about the movement, and so sets out to first accurately describe it, and then provide constructive criticism and evaluation. The result is a remarkable, important, wonderful book about this growing movement of young Christians, a movement that is shattering denominati ...more
Jared Totten
The collision of cool and Christianity. Most would not think there would be enough material there to fill a book. Or that said material could be intelligent, humorous, and thought-provoking.

Brett McCracken has proven most of us wrong with Hipster Christianity. Brett does an excellent job of taking what could easily be a wholly tongue-in-cheek topic and turning it into something theologically deep and challenging. While he seems to spend more time forming and asking questions than answering them,
Diann Blakely
This book comes to me with two strong recommendations, and where I don't know the source of the first, subtitled "The Frugal Collegians"--

"A huge number of Christian hipsters are college students or newly graduated wayfarers. Birthed in vast quantity on the campuses of Christian colleges, these sorts of Christian hipsters embody that newbie, activist spirit of 'just now discovering that I can be Christian and care about the poor.' Because they are jobless or saddled with school loans, their hips
E. Scott Harvey
Wow I didn't think I was going to like this book, but I really did. Here is what I discovered:

1) I am not a hipster Christian, whatever that is (will never wear skinny jeans, and I think Obama is the WORST President of the modern age - so those two things instantly disqualify me).

2) I'm completely ok with that!

Some great quotes from the book:

"If it's uncool to draw lines about what behavior is permissible and prudent for the Christian, then Christians should start getting used to the idea of bei
Pete Williamson
Reading this book was an interesting experience, because in many ways it felt like a walk through a museum of my own past. A lot of what falls under McCracken's definition of "hipster Christianity" came from the focus on Gen X ministry when I was first entering into pastoring. Which is to say in a way, that there are parts of this book that are already beginning to feel a bit dusty and/or moldy, especially at first.

But it does pick up as it moves along. At its core, however, McCracken is dealing
James Van

I think anything self-described as hipster, like anything self-described as emo, suffers from the "I just called myself a derogatory term and I can't redeem myself" syndrome. When everyone wants to be kinda hipstery but not really, then that doesn't leave for much to talk about without getting super meta.

Backing up a bit, the book is about new younger movements in churches, which I do find interesting, and the book tells some interesting stories. I didn't realize that Christian colleges wer
Last year Brett McCracken caused a stir when he wrote about a growing trend within the Church called hipster Christianity. I got a huge kick out of it, because he pretty much described me down to a T. Finally last month Brett's book "Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide" came out, and it can best be described in just one word:


What could have been either a hilarious satire of a current fad, or a thought-provoking look at churches trying to be relevant to culture, turns out to be
Enzo Luigi
In the youth/campus ministry I used to be a part of, one of the things we placed emphasis on is relevance. We wanted to be relevant to the students our ministry were catering to. So in line with this, we put our focus on addressing the students’ felt needs (heart matters was a top favorite), we adapted trends from pop culture, and we (unconsciously) made ourselves look cool.

Observing the broader evangelical landscape, it appears that we’re not just the ministry who is into “cool” and “relevant.”
I found this book to be a disappointment. With such a promising premise, I felt like 60% of this book is about hipsters and cool, not so much about Christianity. Moreover, the discussion of hipsters shifts from a

Pedantic vocabulary and syntax is not the same as profundity. My vocabulary is relatively large, and needing to look up a word every page felt more like a young writer trying to prove something.
Renee Axtell
Brett McCracken is obviously conflicted about being a hipster. In the first part of the book, he traces the history of cool, laying out the thesis that hipsters have a long history of being the arbiters of good taste and the creators of culture. Then he makes a 180 degree turn, and portrays hipsters as being shallow dilettantes in direct conflict with Christian values. His knowledge of Church history seems to extend only to within his lifetime, as he completely neglects situations in which popul ...more
Joshunda Sanders
This was an informative read with some interesting points. If churches are supposed to be spreading the gospel of Jesus, who was a rebel, can they also be obsessed with being cool (or hip)? By visiting some hipster churches, writing about the history of cool and writing about his own personal experience as a writer/editor/hipster and Christian, Brett McCracken makes the case that churches should concern themselves with furthering the cause of Jesus first and being cool second. I was a little unc ...more
I was surprised by where this book ended up, especially as it's written by a self confessed 'Christian Hipster'.
I wanted to write that McCracken is skilled enough to not throw the baby out with the bathwater on this issue, but it's not quite true. Instead he throws the bathwater out and refills the tub with fresh and pure water, substituting out idea of "culturally cool/relevant" with the view that Christianity intrinsically, in and of itself is 'cool' and needs not vainly pursue relevance and p
Caitlin Barr
This book, especially the second half, has a lot of great one-liners (and even two- or three- liners), such as, "accusing something eternal of being behind the times is, of course, laughable." Brett McCracken provided some food for thought, but he would have been better served writing blog entries. As a full length book, Hipster Christianity is weak and flailing. McCracken tries to cover too much ground, conflates various definitions of words key to his argument and makes huge, sweeping statemen ...more
This book was an interesting and informative look at the "hipster Christian" movement. The author is young, Christian, and seemingly hipster-ish, thus the subject of his book. His book is not an attempt to be preachy, rather it was an honest critical analysis of the balance of being "cool" and being Christian, and whether the two can coexist. Although I am not the intended audience of the book, I found the author's earnest reflection on his faith to be refreshing and enlightening. It was interes ...more
Juli Anna Herndon
I skimmed this book: it was mildly interesting, and at times humorous. A strangely voyeuristic read for a non-evangelical-christian, but that carried its own humor at times.
Katie Trapp
entertaining, but not life-changing
McCracken's book is packed with insight and he wields his pen with a certain wryness that fits the subject matter. His honest appraisal of Hipster-ism is less scientific and more reflective. His discussion of the intersection of cool and Christianity is a good start to a conversation which the Church needs to have with its members. As a confessionally Reformed, twenty-something reader, I would recommend this book to people like me and I'd be fascinated to hear what others (who are unlike me) thi ...more
Excellent theological analysis of whether Christianity and cool can coexist. Challenges churches' desperate pursuit of "cool" and "relevancy" in an attempt to win converts. Although the first half of the book examines specifically hipster ideas of cool, the second half of the book applies to broader, less time-specific applications of the concept of being cool; you could easily pick it up in the middle and not miss much if you don't care to read about hipster trends. Every cool Christian should ...more
Deryk Machado
For what it is - a critique on hipster Christianity - it's good. As a student at the same college the author works at, it was great to explore the topic of "when church and cool collide." I was impressed by the background that was presented before exploring how hipster Christianity exists today. I think Brett concluded with some solid suggestions of how "cool" is and isn't compatible with following Christ. Good read for me, as I am currently surrounded by hipsters here in SoCal...
Geo Philips
McCracken's focus is not on hip Christians per se. He is concerned with a particular manifestation of modern evangelicalism that overplays the 'cool' card in seeking to appeal to the urban North American young while minimizing or abandoning traditional doctrinal stances and church practices.

Within that focus, this book does well in identifying the problems with such an approach. It is worth a read even if you have not encountered 'hipster' Christians.
Brett attends and works at my alma mater, and I've had a few good laughs and a few good thinks about things that he posts on his blog. What he writes about -- spirituality, Christians in the modern culture, sociology -- these are all things that I am interested in and would like to write about someday. And although this book addresses these topics and has plenty of good thinking points, it will inevitably not age well due to its title.
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“Christianity is facing something of an identity crisis. Who are we to be to the twenty-first-century world? How should the church position itself in the postmodern culture? Through what cultural languages will the gospel be best communicated in this turbulent time?” 0 likes
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