Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to be a hipster Christian (or Pastor)

While remarking on my Pastor's use of technology the other day, as well as his revelation that he was going to switch to the iPhone from Android for extremely dubious reasons, I thought to myself all of the times that I have assisted pastors/churches, and how often they have burned me for having done so. (THAT's an AWESOME run-on sentence.)

To further add to the mix, I've been having conversations with people from other churches in the area, in which the church (or pastor) has tried to spiritualize their attempts to make the church "cool." It was then that I realized: There is a huge drive to try to make Church edgy by approximating the hipster stereotype, which has resulted in a weird mix.

This is a "how-to" guide in how to be the new church. Remember, you aren't part of the new "cool church" unless you fit into this mold:

Section 1: Music

1) You are free to like classic rock as much as you want. However, when it comes to CCM, you are required to find the most obscure band or artist. You are then to claim that they are good enough to herald the second coming of Christ through music. While you cannot use "corporate" or "sell-out" in a Christian environment, feel free to use "not as spiritually motivating" or "doesn't speaks to me" to describe anyone who expresses interest in any mainstream CCM artist. Also, be sure to treat them in a manner suggesting that maybe they just aren't in tune with the movings of The Holy Spirit as you due to their choice of music.

2) Picking friends with similar musical interests. In the name of "reaching out", you will find the most apathetic music listener possible. Find something secular, non-threatening, but somewhat obscure to express mutual interest in. Muse used to be a common one, but they have succeeded, and are now "corporate". Get together with your MIB (Mutual Interest Buddy), and talk about your mutual interests like 13 year old fangirls. Anyone who tries to tell you that the emperor has no clothes is to be looked upon dubiously.

Section 2: Technology

3) You are required to love Apple. Whether you claim to like it in an "ironic", fashion or decide to cross into serious fanboi territory, anything that has an "i" in front of it shall be fawned over like a newborn baby by her helicopter mother. If Apple has stated that they have better technology, claim it as fact. You are not required to have in-depth knowledge of the actual functional differences, but rather, parrot Apple's, and Steve Jobs' addresses and press releases like a mother robin puking up a meal for its offspring. His word is to be treated as god-breathed. If anyone comes up with good reasons as to why a non-Apple product is better, you are required to say that you feel it is easier to use, regardless of having actually used a competitor's product. In that way, you never have to admit that a non-Apple product is superior, and ass-raping your wallet. Which leads us to:

4) Outsourcing technological efforts. As a pastor, you are to be busy hanging out in your local coffee shop (preferred) or Starbucks (just to be ironic), "working on your message". Due to spending all your time coming up with cool promotional materials for your pet church outing, you may need to outsource some of the technological needs of the church to some of the parishioners. If nobody springs to mind, you can give it to the people that know more about what you need, but hamstring their efforts until one of your buddies can give you the solution that you want. The solution needs to either be stuck in your outdated and obscure technological experience to avoid having to learn anything new, or be overpriced to ensure that it coddles your personal preferences in layout. Be sure to not accept a solution because the obscure product you were using before had an on-screen ruler, or some such small-time issue. Remember, the focus here is not learning something new; rather, it needs to cater to your whims, obsolescence and compatibility with the outside world be damned. Actual functionality and security need not be actual concerns. If you are technologically inept, your poker buddy should be able to run it, and should oversee its rollout. It doesn't matter if all of the people that are technological professionals try to tell you that your solution is insecure/behind the times/overly expensive. You are the pastor, the shepard of this flock. You cannot let any aspect of your church to not involve your pet technology. Minus points if it involves a non-Apple solution.

Section 3: Personal interaction

5) As a pastor, you need to have favorite parishioners. You are to claim to be almost eternally busy, except for your favorite parishioners. Feel free to remark on all the cool stuff the two of you did during the week on Sunday while talking in a group with others that would like to spend time with you. But reiterate the fact that you are waaay too busy to spend time with anyone. Repeat every Sunday.

6) Business corollary: If someone of some importance is in attendance at your church, they get automatic access because, hey, it's someone important.

Section 4: Spiritual-sounding guilt == free work

7) When it comes to helping out around the church, there are those that will genuinely help out with the church. You can accurately call these people "suckers". They will help you doing the same menial job through thick and thin. Even though you know they are proving themselves loyal to work at more interesting volunteer work, make sure you never give them something more important to do, as it will take away from their being low man on the totem pole. Because, hey, if they were capable of doing a better job, they would be, right? After they have proved themselves faithful at doing the same crappy job for several months/years, and even after having filled in on an emergency basis for a higher-up volunteer position they are hoping to do regularly, it is your job to make sure that they stay doing the menial work. Wait for someone to join up that can fulfill the more advanced position.  Make sure it is someone cool enough to be your poker buddy. If that isn't happening, get your non-Christian buddy to become a marginal Christian, or even hire someone from the outside on staff to fill in said position. Dashing the hopes of the faithful is a good way of making sure that they learn humility before God. Or something like that.

8) Innovating church functionality. If someone inside the church has a better way of doing something, by all means, hear them out. After you are done talking with them, call your poker buddy again. Try to remember the gist of what the original person suggested. Remembering important details is actually unimportant. Because you have heard this good idea, conveying that good idea to your poker buddy, and coming up with a solution between the two of you will automatically be a better solution. If need be, make your poker buddy an elder. That automatically trumps any proposed solution suggested by the hoi polloi. You can also claim that "well, that decision was made involving the church elders." This overspiritualization of the matter will make people who take their faith seriously to have no recourse.

9) People who are de-volunteering. If someone who has been volunteering for a period of time declines, for whatever reason (like they need to do anything outside of YOUR church!), be sure to guilt them into coming back. Use phrases like, "shepard/servant's heart", "doing God's work", etc. Remember, to people that place God as the center of their life, spiritualizing their toil at your church is a great way to lock them into doing work for close to free.

If you follow these steps, I'm sure you'll have a successful slave-based church where production is high, you are cool, and free to do whatever you want.

If you feel like any of this is leveled at you personally, I'd suggest you ask yourself why you feel pangs of guilt over this. You might discover some hidden points of pride that might be hindering you and your church spiritually.


HoDidaskalos said...

There's a great article in Christianity Today a few months back on "Hipster Christianity"

JoeLinux said...

You got a link?