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Top Ten Cities for Christian Hipsters

As an entirely unscientific but perhaps accurate summary of the geographic loci of Christian hipster, here is a list of what I suggest are the ten most important cities for Christian hipsterdom. These may not be the cities with the most or the highest concentrations of Christian hipsters; They are simply the most important—for a number of reasons.

10) Orlando: This seems like an unlikely spot for a high hipster population, and indeed it is. But Orlando is the home of Relevant magazine, which immediately puts it on the Christian hipster map. It is also home of the ridiculously unhip Holy Land Experience, and hip churches with names like H20, Status and Summit.

9) Denver/Boulder/Colorado Springs: Let’s just call this the greater Denver / Rocky Mountain region. It’s teeming with Christian hipsters. Colorado Springs is sort of the epicenter for evangelical ridiculousness, which means there are a lot of post-fundamentalist / post-Focus on the Family hipsters running around. Denver is home to Denver Seminary and Colorado Christian University, as well as hipster churches like Scum of the Earth Church and Pathways. Boulder—“Berkley East”—is a whole other story.

8) Minneapolis/St. Paul: The Twin Cities, like Chicago, are sufficiently Midwestern and yet urbane enough to be highly attractive to Christian hipsters. It’s also the home of John Piper’s church, Bethlehem Baptist, Doug Pagitt’s Solomon’s Porch, Greg Boyd’s Woodland Hills Church and several other hipster churches with names like Spirit Garage and Bluer. It’s also a Christian college-heavy town, with Bethel University, North Central University, and Northwestern College all within the Twin Cities metro area.

7) Seattle: This uber hip birthplace of Starbucks and grunge is also a bastion of Christian hip. The presence of Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill church is a huge factor, but there is also Seattle Pacific and Northwest Universities, Image journal, the headquarters of World Vision, Tooth and Nail Records, and a whole lot of design and tech companies. And there are other hip churches there too, such as Church of the Apostles or Mosaic Community Church—which at one point met at a bar in Capitol Hill, Seattle’s hipster/gay neighborhood.

6) Los Angeles: Southern California as a region is, and always has been, a hotbed of Christian hip. From Santa Barbara all the way down the coast to San Diego, the greater L.A. area (particularly beach cities, L.A. metro, and Orange County) is full of Christian hipsters. There are countless Christian colleges, industries (film, music, media) that naturally attract Christian hipsters, and oodles of hipster churches, including Mosaic, Rock Harbor, Bel Air Presbyterian, Sandals, Reality, and countless others.

5) Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids is the home of Calvin College, so it automatically makes the list. But it’s also a center of Christian book publishing, and the home of some really hip churches—none moreso than Mars Hill Bible Church, pastored by Rob “Evangelical Steve Jobs” Bell.

4) Kansas City: I might be biased, because I’m from Kansas City, but having traveled all over I can honestly say that, against all odds, Kansas City is one of the most influential cities for Christian hip in America. It’s the place where the International House of Prayer (24/7 prayer) originated, where bands like Waterdeep got their start playing at hip Christian coffeehouses like the New Earth. It’s the home of hipster churches like Jacob’s Well, Beggars Table, Vox Dei, Redeemer Fellowship, and The Gathering. And some of the most high-end and fashionable clothing stores in the city (The Standard Style Boutique, Habitat) are owned and operated by Christian hipsters.

3) Washington D.C.: This city has a remarkably large number of young, just-out-of-college inhabitants. They go there to make a difference in the world, interning in government and nonprofit jobs for little or no money. Christian hipsters—highly idealistic, activist-leaning people that they are—migrate to D.C. in large numbers. Hip churches are not hard to come by in D.C. either, including such congregations as Capitol Hill Baptist, Falls Church, Covenant Life Church (pastored by Joshua “I kissed dating goodbye” Harris), and National Community Church, which features a totally hip coffeehouse, Ebenezers.

2) New York: As it is for any other hipster, New York is the dream destination for many Christian hipsters. Whether they go there to be actors, artists, designers, or factory workers, hipsters love living in New York. Currently, it’s the city where many Christian hipster icons (such as Sufjan Stevens, Welcome Wagon, and Jay Bakker) reside. It’s also the site of dozens of very hip, urbane, trend-setting churches like Redeemer Presbyterian, All Angels Episcopal, and Journey, as well as ministries such as the International Arts Movement.

1) Chicago: There are oodles of Christian colleges in the Chicago area–Wheaton, North Park, Moody, Trinity, Olivet Nazarene, and more. But beyond all that, Chicago is just a super hip place to live. Hipsters of all kinds—Christians included—flock there. It’s the home of Pitchfork magazine, for goodness sake. It also has a hip heritage: the Jesus People USA are located in Uptown; the iconic 1968 DNC riots took place in Grant Park; Wilco is from there… It’s also in the Midwest—a convenient urban enclave in the middle of the Bible Belt. For many Christian hipsters, Chicago is the best option for thousands of miles.

Honorable Mention: Portland, San Diego, St. Louis, Dallas, Las Vegas.

Comments

So being a "hip" Christian is cool and "evangelical" is not (i.e. Focus on the Family=not hip). Ok, I can see the non-Christian world agreeing with you there. But since when is Christianity about hipness? How can you judge churches by their "hipness"? Shouldn't they instead be judged by how solidly they are presenting the Bible, God, the truth?

Focus on the Family is presenting the Bible much more solidly than many of those churches ever will.

Jesus was never about being hip. Ever. Neither was Paul or any of the others in the Bible. Read Hebrews 11. None of those people were trying to be "cool" or the most "urbane" or "trendy."

I won't deny that I'm sure people have come to know Jesus as a result of these churches or "hip" Christians. But I'm sure many people have also been led astray into thinking Christianity can be posh, and that it's more wishy-washy go-with-the-current-Christian-trends than what it is supposed to be.

I can't speak for the author but I take this article as a bit tongue-in-cheek. It's more about young people (like me) who are yearning for community (which is important) and finding it in churches and cities which welcome them with open arms, an experience they may not have had in their parents' churches or more traditional churches. My church is open to all, young and old, hip and unhip, whether you have pink hair and tattoos, no matter how you look. So if you show up to my church on a Sunday night, you will see mostly 20 somethings who look like "hipsters", so it's going to get that label.

I'll have to disagree with you that "Focus on the Family is presenting the Bible much more solidly than many of those churches ever will." You're presenting this in black and white terms when it's really a matter of opinion. I am sure you can't be objective unless you have attended every single one of these churches listed. As a member of one of them, which has changed my life, being an atheist before and solidly born-again Christian after.

I will say as someone who did not grow up churched, I was drawn to two of the hipster churches mentioned in my short time of beiing a Christian, the problem is it's no different than your parent's church. Hipsters discriminate against the parents essentially. If you don't meet the cool criteria or wear hipster gear, you are told things by "pastors" nonetheless, like they are too busy to meet with you. Wow, a pastor who doesnt have time to talk to a lost soul, for fear of non-hipness rubbing off. Loving Jesus and your neighbor is not the criteria for being part of the bulk of the community. Thankfully Jesus can save people despite their hipness.

Information Fine, thank you very much to the author. It is disconcerting to me now, but in general, the usefulness and importance is overwhelming. Very thank you very much again and good luck!
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It is interesting how a writer can speak on a wide ranging subject and has forgotten to do the leg-work in order to get the first hand prospective of only ten organizations that they are highlighting. This goes to show that in our blogis world, all who care about the truth have to be from Missouri. Our duty is to live it as Christ had and speak, act, and treat each other as the Lord is sitting on our shoulder watching every minute. Sorry people, we are not all perfect, but recognizing our shortfalls, not pointing out others, and keeping a short list, (continuing to ask forgiveness) will keep us in the spirit and allow us to live it the best we can while sharing by example, loving the lost to life. Your friend, Timothy P.
Thank You, Guest; I can't speak for>>>

I’m definitely not holding up “hipster Christianity” as a good thing to be emulated… it’s just a phenomenon worth discussing. So lists like these are not in any way meant to hold “hip churches” in some sort of esteem as much as they are to get us thinking about what the whole idea of “cool Christianity” actually means. I agree with you 100% that churches should be judged by "how solidly they are presenting the Bible, God, the truth" rather than their hip quotient. My whole point in writing the book on Hipster Christianity is to raise that point.

To the above comment:

I understand the grievances you have with certain aspects associated with this article, but I believe, and hopefully to the author's credibility, that this article is simply trying to explain the social phenomena that is occurring in different parts of the country and the reasons and forces behind it's existence. As a resident of the Twin Cities, I can honestly say that many churches, including Bethlehem Baptist, are deeply rooted in doctrine and biblical truth and do not sacrifice the depth or maturity of the gospel that you seem to be able to so quickly imply that they've lost. Simply read any of John Piper's publications. I will also say that many of these same churches have had more impact on modern culture and social issues that other churches have seemed to ignore. Regardless of music, literature, or clothing styles, many churches have intentionally avoided addressing huge issues with the environment, third world poverty, and human rights violations that simply can't go unnoticed. In a city filled with highly educated individuals that understand the world at a deeper level than the authors and editors at Focus On the Family seem to believe in, it is imperative for a local church to be able to communicate and have dialog at that intellectual level. You may enjoy using the word "hip" as derogatory slang towards a generation that is simply going along with a fad, but honestly, I see it as a generation that has higher degrees and higher literacy rates than the previous, along with a broader worldview and a deeper understanding of biblical truths than before. Many of my "hipster" friends listen to indie bands while studying Greek and Hebrew, of which they are well versed. I am sure you could learn a lot from them, if you were willing to look past their clothing.

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Bro,

You are probably not very cultured since you don't know what the phrase "hipster" really means. Hipster is not someone saying they are cool or hip, it is a label. Like you would label someone as a goth or a hippie. The author is not bashing Focus on the Family or being evangelical. It's just a light hearted list of areas where there is a large influence of hipsters who tend to be a youthful area. The info is valuable for people that want to target youth or a particular cultural style so they can be more effective evangelists.

"Focus on the Family is presenting the Bible much more solidly than many of those churches ever will."

You in no way could rightfully make this statement.

... "...I'm sure people have come to know Jesus as a result of these churches or "hip" Christians. But I'm sure many people have also been led astray into thinking Christianity can be posh, and that it's more wishy-washy go-with-the-current-Christian-trends than what it is supposed to be."

Right... and I'm sure many Christians have also been led astray by such ignorant ways of thinking, i.e statements like the above quoted.
Christianity is not about assuming you know everything that's "right" and "wrong" with everyone else.

i'd say Atlanta deserves and honorable mention as well. you'd be surprised at the subculture here.

i would still disagree w/ colorado springs, as i lived there and there is still much older generation/billy graham generation influence in that city

and by the way- @ guest one: the "hipster" term (which i personally am not fond of, rather "hippie relational" or something equally dumb)- isn't about making jesus "hip"- it's a culturally accepted attitude, cultural look/fashion, and common thinking that unites people of their 20s/30s- and then guess what? they all believe in following jesus in a way, perhaps that our parents before us did not. each generation will wrestle on its own how it ought to be the hands and feet of the creator. if focus on the family isn't reaching our generation - then so be it. it doesn't make them horrible, it just makes them irrelevant to us. and btw? jesus WAS relevant to his generation. he taught people in a way that they would understand things in their time....he used symbols they understood. so there's nothing wrong w/ the face of jesus changing, just as long as the heart we display him in, remains.

@ guest 2- welcome to the family

Seriously, how is Portland NOT at the top of the list. I can't walk more than a block anywhere in the city (excluding suburbs) without winning at hipster bingo. And of the churches I've visited, that's who's attending them, twenty and thirty something hipsters. I love it!

Huge oversight: Nashville is the world center of CCM. It is as hip as you can get in some quarters. Come on, guys. Not saying being hip is a good thing, it's pretty shallow and inward focused, methinks. But if that is your parameter, there is a problem in your data.

I have just become aware of hipster churches (I'm not able to say that it's a religious movement, but it seems like it to me). Hipster churches are signigicant, I think, because they appear to relate to our more instinctual need for religion, rather than our cultural need. While there are some beliefs in the hipster churches that I might not agree with, nevertheless, I think it is imperitive, as an ordained christian minister, to listen and observe without prejudice. I hope to hear more in the future so I can learn more about the spiritual needs of all people.

I live in Chicago. We are planting a church here (called The Line), though not so much with the hipsters. I think it is amusing that you chose The Chi as #1, but couldn't really come up with any notable hipster churches, unlike all other nine cities. I love the commitment though. I think it just goes to show that much work needs to be done so for all you reading, COME TO CHICAGO AND PLANT SO WE CAN KEEP OUR #1 RANKING!

an colleges in the Chicago area–Wheaton, North Park, Moody, Trinity, Olivet Nazarene, and more. But beyond all that, Chicago is just a super hip place to live. Hipsters of all kinds—Christians included—flock there. It’s the home of Pitchfork magazine, for goodness sake. It also has a hip heritage: the Jesus People USA are located in Uptown; the iconic 1968 DNC riots took place in Grant Park; Wilco is from there… It’s also in th laptop batteries manufacturer
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I am very glad that I find your regular post here. Which seems to be very important and it made good time pass for me. I will always give a nice thrust look in to you from my bookmark feed. I don't actually comment and don't like to spend time in typing the comment. But here I have to do this because this deserves a good like. Personal loans

I've recently moved to Portland, Oregon and am looking for a hip, young, rock n' roll/hipster-friendly place of worship. As full of hipsters as Portland is, I was surprised when I could not seem to find one. So, I've taken to the internet in my search. Any suggestions/hints would be fabulous and greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Hey there, don't know if you've since found something, but I saw you were struggling to find a church in town. Most of them are missional focused and are full of hipsters that love Christ. Here are a few that I've always enjoyed:

Imago Dei
1302 SE Ankeny St
Portland, OR 97214

The Table
http://www.thetablepdx.com/

Mosaic
1832 Northeast 39th Avenue, Portland

The Red Sea
535 N. Chicago Ave
Portland, OR 97203

The Well
1734 Northeast 1st Avenue
Portland, OR 97212-3974

Difficult to swallow a list that lists St. Paul/Minneapolis, mentioning the very orthodox John Piper with the virtually heretical Rob Bell in Grand Rapids. Bell has said Jesus is "like" God, and has also raised the question of whether one's faith would really be all that shaken if Christ was not "born of a Virgin," clearly implying (but perhaps not clearly stating), that to him, the virgin birth doesn't really matter theologically. Bell is hip alright--but the question is --is it hip Christianity, or hip Christian-lite, sort of, or hip heresy? So, yeah, it is worthy of discussing hipness and Christianity for the yuppies out there, but to do so without discernment in a way that is just "throwing it out there" without any criticism can be misleading.

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So lame lame lame...you really should stop wasting your time writing. Just do some volunteering or something...none of your thoughts are worth uttering. Flip burgers dude. Sling meat dude. I don't know how you got this gig.

Hipster Christianity seems to me is how some in their late teens and early thirty's approach their faith today in a stylish way. It is easy to take shots at other generations. - Android app developers

This is kinda disturbing... and seems very worldly to me. We shouldn't let clothes, style, "hipness" and ect. distract us and all this hipness or coolness be the focus of anything. I think going to church should focus on God's word and not how cool they can make it so they can get young people in. This seems very immature and these "hip Christians" seem very immature in their faith especially if your going to church and your worshiping just for "fun" with a bunch of young people with "pink hair" and tattoos and piercings. Especially if everyone is accepting of this. Your pretty much worshipping other god's is what your doing by putting hipness and status up there high on your standards. This is not good, very worldly to me. We are suppose to be humble. God is after our hearts, if you are so consumed with getting dressed, what you wear, how you look, ect than what are you thinking about? Yourself! Where is your heart at in this situation? Are you dying your hair to honor God? To get closer to him? Or is it a show of your appearance to others? Just mere man. And just because your studying greek or Hebrew doesn't mean nothing. It's about your heart! No amount of knowledge can help you with your relationship with God. This is the problem that religious Jews had back in the day with Jesus. This is crazy "hip" churches.

This is kinda disturbing... and seems very worldly to me. We shouldn't let clothes, style, "hipness" and ect. distract us and all this hipness or coolness be the focus of anything. I think going to church should focus on God's word and not how cool they can make it so they can get young people in. This seems very immature and these "hip Christians" seem very immature in their faith especially if your going to church and your worshiping just for "fun" with a bunch of young people with "pink hair" and tattoos and piercings. Especially if everyone is accepting of this. Your pretty much worshipping other god's is what your doing by putting hipness and status up there high on your standards. This is not good, very worldly to me. We are suppose to be humble. God is after our hearts, if you are so consumed with getting dressed, what you wear, how you look, ect than what are you thinking about? Yourself! Where is your heart at in this situation? Are you dying your hair to honor God? To get closer to him? Or is it a show of your appearance to others? Just mere man. And just because your studying greek or Hebrew doesn't mean nothing. It's about your heart! No amount of knowledge can help you with your relationship with God. This is the problem that religious Jews had back in the day with Jesus. This is crazy "hip" churches.

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About
Brett currently works full-time for Biola University as managing editor for Biola magazine. He also writes movie reviews for Christianity Today and contributes frequently to Relevant magazine.


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