Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Is that really how we look?

My seminary has changed a good deal since my graduation. Rarely now do I give time to reading the magazine they send to all the alumni. Often it just doesn't pique my curiosity. The most recent one that came had as its focus communicating the gospel in contemporary culture. Since that's one of the reasons we have our cutting edge contemporary service, I do my best to read as much as time will allow me to about worship and culture. One article had this story early on:

GQ magazine sent one of its reporters last year to a Christian music festival in Pennsylvania to check out what is going on among the "Religious Right" subculture. "Christian rock is a genre that exists to edify and make money off of evangelical Christians," the author concluded after scoping out the evangelical version of Woodstock. He remarked that the most essential quality of Christian popular music was its parasitism. "Remember those perfume dispensers they used to have in pharmacies -- 'If you like Drakkar Noir, you'll love Sexy Musk?'" the journalist asked. "Well Christian rock works like that." (footnoted: John Jeremiah Sullivan, "Upon This Rock," Gentleman's Quarterly, February 2005, 132)

He points our that Christian pop music recruits "off-brand" performers to ape and mimic current popular artists, to "edify" believers all over North America. Oh, and to make money off of them, too. It is hard not to wince at the magazine's assessment.

(Russell D. Moore, "Pop Christianity and Pop Culture

on Mars Hill," THE TIE, Spring 2006, p. 2)

I agree ... it IS hard not to wince at the magazine's assessment. If that is the predominate way the world we are trying to reach views one of the ways in which we're trying to reach them, then ... [pregnant pause ... audible heavy sigh].

I'm not sure yet what to do with that information. The point of it all is helping people to connect with God. It's not just about adding energy and contemporary sounds to our worship and trying to speak the language of the culture (a language that is changing more and more rapidly now than it was 20 years ago). While those may be a part of the mix in a given minstry situation, they are merely part of the style and sometimes we look on them as the content. The current issue of Worship Leader magazine has some interesting perspectives on a similar subject as the above quote.

There are things going on in the world around that we have got to be aware of ... but what does that mean for the substance of worship? It goes deeper than just what songs we choose to sing for worship and how we dress and whether we use projector screens or not. The current physical trappings (whether we like them and want them, or don't like them or don't want them) can easily draw our attention away from the purpose and focus of worship.

When God called me to do this stuff, it was a much simpler time. Nostalgia? Maybe. Feeling old? Probably. Feeling challenged? Definitely.

What do we do? How should we do it? No easy answers ... but worthy of searching ... worthy of prayer ...


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