Like most of the Jews I know, my investment in religion started to lapse right around the time I cashed in my Bar Mitzvah money. Call it the downfall of adolescence or an extreme love of bacon, but it’s hard to maintain interest in an organization that doesn’t speak directly to me. Hoping to reverse similar turnover issues, GeneratiOne in Huntersville, North Carolina is appealing to a younger crowd by opening the doors to their hip-hop church.
Self-described as “an urban approach to ministry”, GeneratiOne welcomed its first congregation on Saturday with the goal of giving Christianity a fresh dose of swag. Pews have been taken out of the equation, the pipe organ has been replaced with a DJ, and supplicants call out “Amen!” in response to Pastor Quinn Rodgers’ spoken-word delivery instead of the usual sermons.
“We’re trying to reach the un-churched, the de-churched, the folks who have given up on church and are looking for something different,” Rodgers told Huntersville’s CBS affiliate WBTV. “We’ve taken the hip-hop culture and we’ve extracted all the negative connotations out of it and we’ve deposited solid Christian doctrine in there.”
Pew Research has shown that 18- to 29-year-olds are markedly less religious than older generations, so it’s no wonder GeneratiOne is trying to inject a new energy into churchgoing. Already it seems to be connecting. “Tonight, we heard something different, the songs were upbeat. They had more flavor,” parishioner Jamevelyn Robinson told WBTV.
Huntersville isn’t the only place with a hip-hop church; Hip Hop Church LA, for example, has been active for over three years. For interested parties, GeneratiOne is located at 8519 Gilead Road in Huntersville and holds meetings Saturdays at 5 PM.
As a (vaguely) secular Jew, my only question is, when is Rabbi Schmuldawg going to take the bimah?