The Hip-Hop Church: Connecting with the Movement Shaping Our Culture, By Efrem Smith and Phil Jackson
The Hip-Hop Church
  • Length: 227 pages
  • Published: December 15, 2005
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3329
  • ISBN: 9780830833290

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Hip-hop is here.

The beats ring out in our cities. Hip-hop culture is all around us: in the clothes youth wear, in the music they listen to, in the ways they express themselves. It is the language they speak, the rhythm they move to. It is a culture familiar with the hard realities of our broken world; the generation raised with rap knows about the pain. They need to know about the hope.

Enter the hip-hop church.

Like the culture it rises from, the hip-hop church is relevant and bold. And it speaks to the heart. In this book, pastors Efrem Smith and Phil Jackson show the urgency of connecting hip-hop culture and church to reach a generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ. They give practical ideas from their urban churches and other hip-hop churches about how to engage and incorporate rap, break dancing, poetry and deejays to worship Jesus and preach his Word.

Hip-hop culture is shaping the next generation. Ignoring it will not reduce its influence; it will only separate us from the youth moving to its rhythm. How will they hear Christ's message of truth and hope if we don't speak their language? And how can we speak their language if we don't understand and embrace their culture?

Hear the beat. Join the beat. Become the beat that brings truth and hope to a hungry, hurting generation.

"Finally! A thorough resource that intelligently articulates what is too often misunderstood."

Gerard Henry, speaker, author and TV host of BET's Lift Every Voice

"As someone who grew up in hip-hop culture and as someone who pastors a church targeting it, I can say a book like this is long overdue. For years there has been a tension between the two due to a lack of understanding. This has been an additional factor in the drop in church attendance among emerging generations. Efrem and Phil do a thorough job of breaking down the history of hip-hop culture and the dynamics of urban churches. They paint an encouraging and realistic picture of how the church can engage the culture and stay true to its biblical foundation."

Tommy Kyllonen, a.k.a. Urban D., Lead Pastor, Crossover Church, and national hip-hop artist

"The hip-hop culture has penetrated, infiltrated and influenced greatly the young American culture. Hip-hop is no longer an African American phenomenon but now has greatly impacted the White and Latino culture as well. It is extremely important for us as Christians to understand the art of hip-hop and how we can use this medium to reach young Americans with the good news of Jesus Christ. Phil Jackson and Efrem Smith's new book, The Hip-Hop Church, is the best resource I've seen in helping us bridge this gap. For anyone working with youth today, The Hip-Hop Church is a 'have to' read."

Wayne "Coach" Gordon, president, Christian Community Development Association, and founding pastor, Lawndale Community Church

"Hip-hop is a culture that we must deal with both culturally and biblically. This book that Phil and Efrem wrote will help the evangelical community to understand it, minister through it and redeem it for the kingdom of God."

Dr. Tony Evans, Senior Pastor, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, and President, The Urban Alternative

"Phil and Efrem have shaped a refreshing and insightful look into the world of hip-hop through the lens of the gospel. They are able to discuss hip-hop culture in a way that is theologically sound while also 'keeping it real.' This book is a must read for pastors, teachers, theologians, youth leaders or anyone else serious about ministry to this current generation."

Rev. Tony Lee, Sr. Minister to Young Adults, Ebenezer A.M.E. Church

"The black church and hip-hop are the two greatest repositories of our culture. . . . The time is right for the two to be joined. . . . The gospel ministries and work artfully described in this volume by Efrem Smith and Phil Jackson . . . are successful, exciting and real. In preaching, music, worship, counseling, social analysis and more these congregations offer vibrant insights that may transform the values, beliefs and traditions of hip-hop America--and enrich us all. What these two churches have done, other churches can do. . . . Here is to a new movement in black and multiracial America--the hip-hop church--keepin' it real and keepin' it right."

From the foreword by Alton B. Pollard III, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Religion and Culture, Candler School of Theology

"This book is a well-written and concise guide by two men who are familiar with the mores and folkways of the hip-hop culture. It is an excellent tool that will enable the church to encounter and engage this culture as agents of transformation. It also challenges the church to reevaluate who it is and what it is to be about. If the church is to be the most powerful instrument in the public square, then it must imitate the carpenter from Galilee. We must go forth, not in judgment but in love as we dialogue with hip-hop culture. The church can make a difference, and it must. The difference will come when we realize agape is a panacea for our existential situation. Therefore, I highly recommend this book and its authors as chief resources to be read and utilized in claiming this territory yet unconquered."

Dr. Mack King Carter, Senior Pastor, New Mount Olive Baptist Church, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

"Phil is one of the most superbly gifted ministers I have ever met. Phil is able to reach youth because he understands where they live, how they think but most important how they navigate the perilous terrain of urban life. I know of no one who is more qualified to reach, teach and preach to youth and the often bewildered parents who don't have a clue about their children's world. Phil is 'the bomb': he's as explosive as a hand grenade and he packs a powerful punch for the cause of Christ."

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, author of Between God and Gangsta Rap, and professor at DePaul University in Chicago

"Smith and Jackson are to be commended for their thoughtfulness, insight, and commitment to educate the church on this most crucial segment of society, the hip-hop culture."

Robert W. Strong, Great Commission Research Journal, Winter 2010

"Smith and Jackson provide a valuable starting point for further research on hip-hop's impact on Christian churches around the globe."

Religious Studies Review, January 2007

"Smith and Jackson undertake the challenge of reconciling the church to hip-hop culture, marrying the two seemingly disparate entities, and offering new hope through this integration."

CCM, April 2006

"The Hip-Hop Church implores church leaders to engage the hip-hop culture rather than protest it. . . . Gives readers new insights into a culture influencing most youth in America, regardless of their race or social status. The critique of current traditions is likely to raise objections from some, but it's just as likely to change the way you do ministry."

YouthWorker Journal, May/June 2006


Foreword by Bakari Kitwana
Foreword by Alton B. Pollard III
Hip-Hop and the Church: Opposition or Opportunity?

PART ONE: Why Should the Church Care About Hip-Hop?
1 Church and Hip-Hop

PART TWO: Understanding the Hip-Hop Culture
2 What Is Hip-Hop?
3 Blues and Negro Spirituals, the Parents of Hip-Hop
4 Hip-Hop as Postmodern Culture
5 Hip-Hop Theology

PART THREE: Bringing Hip-Hop into Your Church
6 Holy Hip-Hop
7 The Emcee and the Preacher
8 The Deejay and the Worship Leader
9 Bringing Hip-Hop into Your Worship Service
10 Practical Ways of Reaching the Hip-Hop Community for Christ

Conclusion: Church and Hip-Hop--You Don't Stop
Appendix: Hip-Hop Resources


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Efrem Smith

Efrem Smith is a pastor, consultant, speaker, and author. Efrem was the founding pastor of The Sanctuary Covenant Church, a multi-ethnic church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and he served as the superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church. He also served as the president of World Impact, an urban missions organization. Currently, Efrem is the co-lead pastor of Midtown Church, a flourishing, multicampus, and multi-ethnic community in Sacramento, California. He is also co-owner of Influential LLC, a speaking, consulting, and coaching ministry. He is the author of Raising Up Young Heroes, The Hip Hop Church, Jump, The Post-Black and Post-White Church, and Killing Us Softly.

Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson serves as Lead Pastor of The House Covenant Church and associate pastor of Lawndale Community Church. The House is one of Chicago's first all-youth and young adult hip-hop churches. With nearly two decades of urban youth ministry experience, Phil also trains and consults with youth leaders and youth pastors in urban communities across the country.