Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

*Before you read this post I urge you first to watch the video above.

That video above is a video I found a while ago. It was also forwarded to me by my mother. Thanks mom! I found it humorous. It is incredibly true. I've been to a few mega churches like that, and the video hit the nail right on the head in it's representation of them. Then I found it a bit disturbing for multiple reasons.

For me there is the very obvious Fahrenheit 451 scenario. Fahrenheit 451 is a book by Ray Bradbary which is a book about burning books. It takes place in the future and books are banned because they promote independent thought and then cause people to actually think, and heaven forbid, actually feel REAL emotions. So instead people sit around and watch their TVs which nothing ever really happens. And when something dramatic happens the TV puts out random images and sounds to synthesize your emotions. You feel something. You feel sad, excited, happy, or mad, but you don't know why because nothing actually happened. It was an illusion. Think of modern Reality TV. Especially anything on MTV, VH1, E!, ect. They have reality TV shows were nothing of consequence is really happening, but they add all these special camera movements, and edit it with quick cuts, and add a lot of over the top dramatic music. Now, you have your self interesting trashy TV, with the viewers' emotions being manipulated to feel a certain way at certain points during the show.

It's frightening enough that cable networks are doing this. But now I am also seeing the church do this with the media they play. Contemporary churches seem to be using music to artificialize and evoke emotion that really isn't there. It sometime seems they are trying to move the spirit rather then the spirit moving them. I don't think the congregations of these churches, or even the leaders of those churches are realizing the are doing it. Why? The answer to that is simple.

They're too busy trying to be contemporary and relevant. But I wonder if they even knows what it means to be relevant? What does it mean to be contemporary? Are we suppose to even be contemporary? Should we strive for that? Should we strive for both? For either?

To be fair, by definition, the church is always contemporary. But for the sake of argument we'll say contemporary is a style. Which is true. It is a style. A style many churches are adopting in favor of the old way of a piano and hymns. People seemed to be drawn to this style. They like it, which is perfectly fine. But we seem to make the mistake that contemporary also means the be relevant. Which is sad because in the quest to be contemporary some mega churches have failed to be relevant.

What does it mean to be relevant? How are they not relevant? Well in my opinion for a church to be relevant it needs to be relevant to peoples needs, physically and spiritually. I am sure some of them are relevant. I don't doubt it. But the issue is the contemporary taking away from the relevance. The church isn't targeting all the needs. They're too focused sometimes on being liked rather then being real. Also the worship becomes something to artificialize emotions. The videos evoke a feeling, and for a brief moment you are affected but not changed. And just like the older generation has started to worship to the worship of their hymns, some of us are now worshiping the worship of being contemporary.

The solution? How to we ensure that contemporary worship keeps the focus on God, and not the worship itself? I would say it would require us to modify and create a theology of art and technology. We need to create a theology on video and performance. How watching a video created in burch can be used as art to bring us into the presence of God rather then manipulate our emotions. A theology in which watching a performance, and performing lead the performer and audience into the presence of God. I have my toughest in which i will share later. What are yours?

1 comment:

  1. We have been through all types of relevant church services. I know our church has gone through many changes in the last fifteen years....people who favored one sort of worship left and we have tended to cater to a younger, more hip congregation. It's good to have young Christians want to get into a church where they feel comfortable and hopefully they will grow in their spiritual lives. Unfortunately, older people miss the old things, but the leaders know we will not leave, because the act of worship is not always equated with whatever is happening on the stage. I had a big surgery many years ago and spaced out for several days on the anesthetic, but I had my boombox at my bedside and the sounds of familiar hymns and choruses kept my spirit in the presence of The Lord even when my mind was wandering off somewhere in a drugged haze. You are right about staging the service to fit contemporary audiences, but it is wise to remember that the audience is really widely varied. Christian music always brings me closer to God, but I don't always recognize that Christian rock is Christian music.