Monday, December 10, 2007

Worship and Music, Pt. 2

In my earlier post, I talked about problems of Feelings, Flow and Focus.

Since in my first career I have been a practicing church musician, this post continues with issues of faith that I have worked on for decades.

Over at In a mirror, dimly a good post about a Brent Helming worship article. For several years, the "emerging church" has been cutting the edge on Christian worship expression, music and "programming". The background model had been put in motion by Willow Creek, where Bill Hybels is now rethinking some of their operating tenets. The current fads are stemming from "Purpose-Driven Church" ideas by Rick Warren, and many other (now Gen X-Y ) writers.

It's too late to Eradicate the Roots of Consumerism.

Again from the article:
" ...(then) consumeristic worship will have a hard time taking hold.
I’m not sure that we’ll be able to fully eradicate consumerism from
our churches, but a deeper, more fully enriched relationship with God
through the vehicle of worship awaits those who say yes to pursuing
authentic worship. "

Don't get me wrong - I love fresh new types of music and expression.

Creativity should be welcomed and explored. But true creativity in worship will go beyond accepted norms, even of the latest contemporary mentality and prevalent style. The problems with modern music go deeper than just personal preferences and expression. Even worship music comes from within a larger warped culture.

The modern styles of worship music are intrinsically consumerist because that's the orientation of the music styles they are based on. Popular, rock, alternative, even "folk" musics are all rooted in the entertainment mentality. In the 1920's-50's the problem was with classical, operatic, theatrical styles: the danger was idolatry in the form of intellectualism and snobbery. Today the idolatry is with emotionality and populism.

It's too late to eradicate the roots of consumerism. Our culture has now accepted the idea of music being a consumer "product" - a thing bought and sold, watched, used, appreciated. And "consumer" usually means "spectator". All this is false.

Music should be instead, an "activity" - a way of involvement - an engagement of social participation - a vehicle of enjoyment, yes, but of an active, visceral encounter among participants. An invisible "glue"that embodies the invisible Bond of the Spirit amongst believers.

The best of secular entertainment does this; and all the audience screaming and so-called singing with the band, is more about being involved than it is about "the music".

This is not a style issue, it is an attitude issue. It might call for training, encouragement,
humility to accept unfamiliar forms or methods, and discerning leadership to navigate through the minefields of popularity, personal preference, or WNDITWB [the seven last words of the church before it dies. . .]

Think of how these attitudes would change the dynamic in worship,
the actions we partake in, the celebration of our fellowship in Christ and in Communion! We would sing and shout to be included in the action, no matter if we did or didnt have talent, even if that were not our personal "gift".

What do we really Intend Worship to be?

A church that really wanted to be radical in intentional worship would not have a "platform", but would abolish the stage and presentation-orientation altogether.

Perhaps meet in a storefront or a bare open space, with only chairs, tables, and strong physical symbols of important issues of faith; including some visual and aural expressions of faith.

Perhaps sit facing each other,
centered on a pulpit for the Word preached and heard; or maybe focus on a communion table with the congregation gathered around.

Perhaps allow and expect believers to contribute through sharing, personal witness, Bible passages and life-lessons what God is doing in and through them the past week, etc. -- and inviting the congregation to reinforce this through their own participation in spoken prayer, singing and reading scripture in response.

Perhaps abolishing the seeker /spectator model altogether, in favor of the humble needy / participant role-model instead!

[ See this recent article after this was written, and the original blog post.]

That would shock unbelievers - first, because they expect everything to be done for them, that they can just come and look on; and second, it might challenge their complacency about "having faith" versus the supernatural reality of Jesus' presence in our lives.

A church radically centered around the Lord's Supper?

would say "they worship and eat the very body and blood of this man" they worship! Whoa, talk about cutting to the heart of the matter!
That would be in your face about who this Jesus really is, and who I am in relationship to him. Hmmm.

Is our worship and our faith more than just outward actions - does our commitment to Christ go deeply enough physically, emotionally, intellectually? Is it really tangible in our lives? The Lord's Supper is only one tangible symbol of showing the deep interaction between
God and humankind, through Christ. There can be other actions and symbols that reveal this as well, but they cannot replace this vital participation "in the death and resurrection of our Lord."

Is Jesus seen in us?

When we meet, are we together
a visible
expression of his Body?

Do we show Christ in us,
the Hope of glory -

or does the world
just see:
[ Us ]
doing "our" thing "for God" ?

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