How to Transform from Middle-Aged Music Minister to Hipster Worship Pastor


If the worship leading models we hold up as successful are good indicators of what it takes to lead relevant worship, then it’s obvious the way to achieve similar success is to become a hipster. So if you are a middle-aged music minister not even sure what a hipster is, this post will serve as a guide to help you too move toward worship leading relevance.

Hipsters are a subculture of men and women who value free thinking, creativity and intelligence. These characteristics are evident in their nonconformist choice of clothes, music, food and activities. According to the urban dictionary, hipsters tend to be well educated and often hold degrees requiring creative analytical thinking. Consequently, many hipsters hold jobs in the music, art and fashion industries.

If you would like to embrace this effective model in your worship leading, then read the tips below to see how you can transform from a Dockers wearing middle-aged music minister to a slouchy beanie wearing Hipster Worship Pastor.


clothesTo avoid consumerism and clothes that match you will want to shop at thrift shops or vintage stores. Your youth choir uniform collection from a few decades ago might also work.





jeansWearing skinny jeans and too small v-neck t-shirts will help you lead worship songs in their original keys. Wearing Spanx compression apparel underneath will help you keep your body parts in their original keys.






glassesDonning oversized thick plastic rimmed eyewear screams “bohemian cool” but also still whispers “ample trifocal space.”







haircutSport a hairstyle that only appears as if it hasn’t been washed or coiffed. Your daily mid-afternoon power nap should help achieve this look.








shoesOld-school sneakers or Toms flats should adorn your feet. You might want to buy a slightly larger pair to accommodate your plantar-fasciitis orthotics.






coffeeSipping a soy chai latte and calling the barista by his first name at an artisinal coffee boutique always inspires worship planning creativity. Hint: Dunkin Donuts is not an artisinal coffee boutique.






courierTote your Apple products (no PC stuff) to the coffee boutique in a courier bag. Carrying a backpack, briefcase or event branded swag bag are analogous to wearing Sansabelt slacks.







plugsPlugs, piercings and tattoos are optional.










bandsYou’ve got to be an early adopter of new musical genres. Don’t wait until you hear it as muzak in the Christian bookstore to embrace it.








facial hairUnkempt facial hair is mandatory (guys only).







scarfScarves have taken the place of silk neckties and can be worn with v-neck t-shirts or even fitted hoodies. But they are never to be worn with camp shirts, golf shirts or anything from Sears.






Following these basic guidelines will help you better conform to hipster nonconformity and ultimately worship leading relevance. How could God not show up for that?


34 Responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Don Whitt on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    There’s no way my big toe could ever fit into a pair of skinny jeans.

  2. Posted by James Ward on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Image is one thing, but to have a relationship with real millennials in my music program, I have to be myself. I have oversized glasses in my drawer from my stint with same in the 1980s. The one thing that millennials cannot replicate is flat music chops and experience!

  3. Posted by Kirk on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    One only has to log on to the CCLI website and be bombarded by the cool pics of the hottest hipster worship leader “stars” for proof that this article is absolutely true.

  4. Posted by Dave Wagner on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    So what are us POST-middle-aged guys supposed to do? Ditto on the big toe issue!! I’ve concluded that most millennials don’t give a horned owl’s hoot about our experience; recorded history began with their own birth date after all! Hilarious stuff tho, David; now if it weren’t quite so true…!

  5. Posted by Quentin Sawatzky on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    I don’t know…..a lot of PASTORS are starting to follow this idea, too!

  6. Posted by geofftwigg on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    wish I could ignore this…

  7. Posted by Diana Barton on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    As the wife of a middle-aged former music pastor (he has now moved on into a position as a hospital chaplain, which encourages, nay, requires, Dockers and Ties) I found this tremendously amusing.

    Although we are well into the second have of our projected century, we have teen age children, and I am a full time substitute teacher, mostly in middle school.

    While I admit that I don’t want to be mistaken for the sourpuss granny, I could never pass for a hipster, no matter the attire. I am already forbidden to attempt any slang. My generation’s slang dates me, and attempts to use more current slang brings stares, whispers, and headshakes of pity at best.

    What is most amusing, though, is the things that are so “hip” now, are the very things that only the sourpuss grannies and terminally uncool kids would have worn in my day! It would take real money to get me to wear old school sneakers and black plastic glasses.

    Thanks for the smile in my day.

  8. Posted by Diana Barton on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Sorry, that should say “second half.”

  9. Posted by Genae Denver on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    I completely “LOLed” my way through this article – THANK YOU, David!

  10. Posted by Becky on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    ROFL!!! This is PRICELESS!!!

  11. Posted by Diana on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Cheese. I thought my days were numbered when I realized I wasn’t a 20-something guy… with an earring and a ponytail. And lo and behold, the culture has changed AGAIN.

  12. Posted by Dennis on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Well I’ma 53 year old youth pastor and this is great. Been doing it for over 30 years and going strong. I have the bad hair and black glasses for a few years but skinny jeans will never happen. lol

  13. Posted by Jason on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Very funny. I was recently at a large conference and you would have thought it was a hipster convention. What is most amusing is that the church is always lagging behind pop culture. By the time it gets to the church it is already fading out. I see more people in church dressed like this than I do people hanging out in coffee shops etc. I think it is hilarious that we as a group of people always want to run after the culture we are trying to embrace saying hey guys wait for us, we’re cool too. Which, in my opinion is very uncool.

  14. Posted by Pete on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Love it!
    Of course, they didn’t even touch on the gear aspect – as a guitarist, one must play a Gretch or Tele through the various required pedals such as Strymon, Fulltone, EHX, Timmy… into a Vox AC30…

  15. Posted by Michael on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Great article, and sadly so true. Its seems a lot of churches are embracing “Hip for worship” instead of a “Heart of Worship”.

  16. Posted by Gary on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Wow. Style over substance. Someone finally has the guts to admit it. LOL!

  17. Posted by eric on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Maybe I can use the skinny jeans as a scarf….

  18. Posted by Kat on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    hysterical! I couldn’t agree more with “Jason”.
    But, this thread ….totally leaves out female music directors!

  19. Posted by David Manner on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Point taken, Kat. I gave a nod to women leaders with the unkempt facial hair, guys only comment. Guys are just much easier to parody, though.

  20. Posted by Tim on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Absolute perfection! The facial expression on the scarf dude was my favorite. I’m reminded, once again, that I need to lose 30 lbs to become relevant. Thanks man, that was fantastic.

  21. Posted by bigfred on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Great work David – So true – So just what I needed this morning!!


  22. Posted by Scott Sarnes on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Way too funny! My wife says “Just because they make skinny jeans in your size doesn’t mean you should wear them. Kind of like yoga pants in the “Full Figured” section at JC Penny’s…just walk on past!”

  23. Posted by Mark Powers on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Seriously funny! Funny because it’s so true, and serious because it’s TOO true. Thanks for shedding light on our shortcomings in a way we can laugh at. Mark Powers, Worship & Music Dir, South Carolina Bapt Conv

  24. Posted by mary on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    It’s sad to me that folks here assume that some one who dresses this way does not have substance. Just because it’s not your style doesn’t mean they don’t have experience or a heart for God and worship.

  25. Posted by Daryn on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Adding a banjo, ukulele or a piano accordion to your instrument repertoire is also an important step (this may or may not be from personal experience)

  26. Posted by Dave Edwards on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    As a 43 year old worship leader, I experience new hope after reading this! 😉
    Love it!

  27. Posted by Robert Sullivan on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    This is awesome! I had certain people coming to mind on every point that was made. I also have told other worship leaders that if they want to sing higher just wear skinny jeans… Although I would not be able to fit in skinny jeans myself… I guess that would be a good weight loss goal. (lose weight so I could fit in skinny jeans and sing higher)

  28. Posted by John Covell on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    I agree with much in this article. However, it’s just one more example of how contemporary American evangelical churches, ministries, and, in particular, worship are not nearly as contemporary or innovative as we’d like to believe. IMO, whether it’s music styles, graphic logos or vocabulary, we’re at least 5 years behind in anything creative. Specifically regarding the middle-age vs. hipster gap, I’m solving that by using a bullpen of younger worship leaders (some are from our church and some are hired guns). I actually only lead from the front about once each month (or less) now. Funny that many of the young leaders want me playing guitar in the band when they lead … or want me to help them with “music theory” stuff. One more observation: because I’m active in my local secular music scene (mostly cover bands and original indie acts), I see middle-age dudes like me playing alongside 20-somethings all the time. And no one seems be bothered much at all. Maybe in five years, the church will pick up on that.

  29. Posted by Bob on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    John, I’m happy to report that our church has already done that. The musicians and worship leaders from our 6 different services on 3 campuses occasionally play together and produce music from VERY traditional to VERY contemporary. My wife and I (retired, mid-60’s), play in the blended service contemporary band. Ages range from me (66) down to our 20-something worship leader. Everyone is hip and WAAAY cool in very different ways. I think Mary’s earlier comment assumes incorrectly that these comments place substance and style in separate areas. I see a trend of style being completely free-choice, and completely accepted, with the heart of and for worship being key. Many of the musicians like to hang out together for a bite after mid-week rehearsal, and they wanted us old folks to join them regularly. The hipster 19-year old drummer seems to enjoy hanging with a bald L.L. Bean guy and his wife! I love this article!

  30. Posted by John on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Speaking for myself, I could only hope this was meant to be humorous and tongue in cheek.

    Christ’s church is not built on gimmicks, and there is nothing mentioned anywhere in Scripture that he told His disciples how to dress so His ministry through them could be more relevant or successful. He dealt with hearts, not the manipulation of senses to get people to feel that worship is relevant. If people have a problem with worshiping because someone isn’t a hipster then I would suggest that they have a problem that needs to be addressed by the Holy Spirit.

  31. Posted by truthseeker on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Funny…. If the Church elders of the late 60’s and early 70’s could write blogs back then, I would imagine the tone would be similar to this one… only they would be bashing the barefoot, long-haired ‘Jesus Freaks’ that now run many successful churches today. If God can use the hippees, why can’t he use the hipsters?

  32. Posted by Scott on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    I just wear what I like and let my walk with God, training and talent do my talking for me to the millennial on my worship team.

  33. Posted by Shannon Lewis on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    Of course, as a “former hipster”, none of that makes you hipster because at the moment you blog about it for someone else to hop on the bandwagon, it’s no longer “hipster. The BEST way to be hipster – and why true hipsters are so infectiously cool – is to quite literally not give a single ounce of a rip as to what anyone else thinks, & wear/listen to/do EXACTLY what you feel in your bones best expresses who you really are. That’s why I like real hipsters.

    Now, what we call “hipster worship pastors”? 97% actually “trendy/frat boy” worship pastors, happy to jump on the latest trend – whatever makes them more popular. Except John Mark McMillian – pretty sure he doesn’t give a rip.

  34. Posted by Lee on 09.03.14 at 2:26 pm

    “The truth is God could care less what one actually has own “. Are for that matter how they may expresses them selves in worship, God is looking were no man can see .I ‘am sure He’s enjoy’s the sounds of worship .,” It’s ,all about Jesus”.

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