By Eliza Griswold
On a muggy evening earlier this summer, a hundred and fifty sticky worshippers poured out of the Clef Club, in Center City, Philadelphia. On Sunday nights, the jazz club hosts the Block Church, a group of young evangelicals who planted thriving congregations in Philadelphia, in 2014, and Mesquite, Texas, in 2017. Worship involves a lot of high-energy hopping around while Christian rockers shred onstage. “There’s no wall you won’t kick down, lie you won’t tear down!” the Block worship team sang before a congregation clad in black T-shirts with white crosses, Vans, and jeans ripped out at the knees.
After the service, the earnest crowd filled a block of South Broad Street, chatting about the beginning of the Book of James, the subject of that evening’s sermon, which Pastor Joey Furjanic, who was on vacation, had delivered by recorded video. James, he’d preached, had been speaking to a scattered church, early followers of Jesus who’d left Jerusalem and were wandering around the ancient world as “immigrants and refugees.” James was telling young Christians how to put their faith into action, which the Block Church attendees were discussing. Across the street, two firefighters, occupying lawn chairs outside a firehouse, looked on at the unusually effervescent and sober group. Although such images of hipster Christians have grown familiar, the spirit among them reflected something new.
At the Block Church, black, white, and Latino evangelicals were worshipping together, which is still a rare sight. During the past decade, evangelicalism has grown more diverse: as the number of white believers has declined, the Latino evangelical population has increased dramatically.
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