A Short Guide to Cultural Engagement in the Pacific Northwest

A little over a decade ago every pastor in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho embraced the new moniker of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) being the least churched region in the USA. It was a battle cry, a call to arms of cultural engagement for Christians living in the area.


Now when you walk into churches, especially within urban PNW settings, you can see the mark the culture has left on the church. Many other regions have studied Portland, Seattle, and its churches, to see what changes they have made to reach the post-Christian culture.

As churches have been planted, and new energy has been pushed toward connecting with this unchurched culture, I’ve ran into many people who simply struggle in integrating within Pacific Northwest culture.

What I’ve put together is a guide for making sure you aren’t the lame person who looks like a tourist around here. So when you move here, or travel here, you’re already ahead of the game. I hope many of you find this to be a valuable resource.

A Short Guide for Christians Wanting to Connect With PNW Culture

1. Do not shave. For 2 years.

2. Sell your car. Find a bike that looks twice as old as you. Bonus points if it’s a fixed gear. Roll up your jeans above your ankles, even when you aren’t biking. If you want to be the loser who wears a helmet, make sure it looks like a WWII helmet.

3. Speaking of jeans: buy two pairs of dark denim skinny jeans. The kind of skinny jeans you can hardly walk up a staircase in. Alternate every other day. Wash once a year.

4. On cold days, roll up the jeans right above your ankle bone. On warm days, roll them up one roll higher. Show off some ankle skin.

5. Know your hand brewed coffee methods. V60. Chemex. Bee House. Aeropress.

6. Know your beer types. Know your local craft beers. No bartender wants to chat with the guy who wants to know what IPA stands for.

7. Become a football fan. The European kind of football. Do not call it soccer.

8. If you must drive a car, drive a Subaru. Or a VW Bus.

9. When inviting people over for dinner make sure you only serve vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free food.

10. If you must serve meat make sure it is organic, free range, and grass fed.

11. Do not, under any circumstances, ever use an umbrella.

12. Make sure you get a leather Bible, that matches your leather bag, leather belt, leather jacket, and your leather boots.

13. Your church should play Bon Iver music as people arrive.

14. When telling friends about your favorite band, make sure the band is from France, or a band no one has ever heard of.

15. Driveways are for raised beds, not parking cars. Plant kale and nothing else.

16. When the barista asks, “would you like room?” respond by saying, “That’s for Californians.”

17. When describing your church make sure you know 15 different synonyms for the word missional.

18. When people ask if you go to church, make sure to respond by saying, “Church was great today. I got together with a couple friends at Starbucks.”

19. If you happen to see someone riding a 10 foot high unicycle, just smile and wave. If you take a picture people will know you’re from LA.

20. If you drive a Prius you will get yelled at by a dude in an SUV, and by a dude riding his bike, for opposite reasons.

Ok for those of you who live around these PNW parts, what would you add?