Monday, January 29, 2007

So who's the focus of worship here anyway?

With approval by the Church of England, a congregation in central England will stage a "U2-charist" -- a communion service featuring songs by the group U2 instead of the usual hymns.

"Rock music can be a vehicle of immense spirituality," said Bishop of Grantham Timothy Ellis, announcing plans for the unique service in the central English town of Lincoln in May.

A live band is to play U2 classics like "Beautiful Day" and "Mysterious Ways" with special singalong lyrics displayed on a giant screen. Seating for the 500-strong congregation is to be re-arranged so everyone can dance and wave their hands.

As crazy as it might sound to some, it's really not at all unusual. Many Protestant churches in America have replaced the hymnbook with simple worship songs projected on a screen. It would not even surprise me to learn that some church somewhere in America has U2's "40" among their worship music repertoire.

American Evangelicals also have their own "supergroups" from which they freely borrow worship music, and worship leaders have become "rock stars" in their own right.

It's this last bit that I find somewhat troubling. I appreciate it when worship leaders can effectively lead the congregation in corporate worship, but there seems to be a fine line between "worship" and "musical performance" and for a few months I attended a church where it was often unclear if I was at a church service or a concert.

Having a cover band doing U2 songs before a group of dancing and swaying U2 fans seems to step over that invisible line.


At 12:13 AM, Blogger Dan McGowan said...

not sure if this will be read, since the reply is coming late... but we'll see...

Yesterday was very close to the final straw for me regarding our church's recent push towars a more polished and performance-driven worship service. Two people on my team (myself and one other) were offered comments by our newly hired tech guy on HOW we should do our music differently. One comment was related to the way someone was playing a tamborine - the tech guy felt it was "not good." The other comment was this tech guy wanting to "tame down" one of my singers who he felt was too demonstrative on the platform in her delight of the Lord.

For me, this is the crux of the issue - we are not designing worship services for WEBCASTS or VIDEO SALES. We are not creating WORSHIP TV SHOWS, are we?

Where is the focus of our worship indeed!!


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