The Exodus of Youth from Church and “Wannabe Cool” Christianity

The exodus of youth from the church continues, but one evangelical casts doubt on the stopgap strategy of “wannabe cool” Christianity. 

Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity: Where Church and Cool Collide, isn’t happy with contemporary attempts to make Christianity “cool”—what he calls “rebrand[ing] Christianity as hip, countercultural, relevant.” In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, McCracken writes,

If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that “cool Christianity” is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don’t want cool as much as we want real.

“But what sort of Christianity are they being converted to?”

For McCracken, that means avoiding such reported “gimmicks” as church-sponsored (inappropriate) secular films, references to (inappropriate) popular music in sermons, or (inappropriately) expensive haircuts for pastors. Summing it up, he writes, “Maybe sex sermons and indie-rock worship music do help in getting people in the door, and maybe even in winning new converts. But what sort of Christianity are they being converted to?” He concludes,

If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it’s easy or trendy or popular. It’s because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It’s because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched—and we want an alternative. It’s not because we want more of the same.

The book Already Gone, coauthored by Answers in Genesis president Ken Ham, documents the mental exodus of youth from the church years before their physical exodus. Clearly, “hipster” Christianity has failed; as McCracken writes, that’s because people want an alternative to the world. For us, that includes the biblical alternative to the secular worldview that says that life is just a great cosmic accident. Only by standing on God’s Word—not on popular culture and ever-flimsier sermons—will the church have the opportunity to win each new generation.