C3 expands in Canada by winning over hipsters

“A church for hipsters”—that has been the tone of several media reports on C3 Church for the past few years, the latest one being an article about the Toronto branch in The Globe and Mail (January 18). C3 stands for Christian City Church, a neo-Pentecostal church launched in 1980 that now counts 450 churches around the world. Like the famous Hillsong Church, to which it is frequently compared, it started in Australia, illustrating that country’s potential as a launchpad for new, global religious movements. In Canada, it currently has 11 congregations with about 3,000 participants. Its message is clearly geared to young city-dwellers, Christopher Katsarov notes, and it seems to work in Toronto as in many other places where C3 and similar movements are active. Social interactions between members are strongly encouraged, with “connect groups” of peers meeting during the week for various activities—not necessarily Bible study.

Katsarov reports that, in its efforts to reach the young and spiritually curious, C3 Church carefully “avoids the language of judgment and sanction,” which is attractive for people who would not feel comfortable in churches having a more traditional approach. Regarding the hot issue of same-sex relationships, the C3 pastor answering the Canadian journalist’s questions refrained from any judgment: “I see my role not to tell people what’s right or wrong or what to do, but to point them to having a relationship with Jesus.” While certainly not being an endorsement of homosexuality, this stance has already earned C3 some criticism from other evangelicals, especially after a blog post by a C3 pastor from Melbourne on that topic in 2009. But it is unlikely to deter more hipsters from joining the movement, and might rather indicate wider adjustments to come in other contemporary churches as well.