Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Another Front in the Worship Wars Opens

For those of us who grew up in a "mainstream" Protestant Christian denomination, there was considerable tension between those of us who favored the "traditional" liturgy vs. those who favored more "contemporary" style of worship with a "come-as-you-are" feel.  We call these the worship wars and every Protestant denomination and even the Roman Catholics have fought in many battles.  Both sides have been bloodied and bruised, but the banners of each still go forward. 

Traditionalists have balked at hearing of services dubbed "U2charist" or "Polka liturgy" or a "Beatles Liturgy" or any service using the music of today's or a few yesterday's popular music.  Traditionalists facepalm all the more when they hear of "Clown Masses."  Take your pick.  Rock n' roll, once public enemy #1 of the churches, has now been co-opted by churches for its own repackaging and branding.  What more could happen?

Well, apparently the community of beat boxers, R&B soloists, and thuggish rappers thought they were getting the short end of the stick by the churches so now a North Carolina church is giving in to (wait for it):  Hip-Hop liturgy.  I suppose it was only a matter of time. 

The same arguments which are used to justify any contemporary music in worship from the Beatles to U2 are also used to justify the existence of a Hip-Hop liturgy:  appeal to younger people, appeal to the non-churched, appeal to what people want, etc., etc.  I'm not going to refute these arguments, though I can and easily.  But here is what will inevitably happen:  There will be no growth.  Oh sure, you'll get a little spike at first, but it's going to be short lived and ephemeral.  If you strictly appeal to what people like and then try to give them an emotional attachment, a "musical high" if you will, what will happen when that "high" wears off?  People will leave to find their wants and desires elsewhere. A church which operates this way may get new visitors every week, but how many of them will actually stay and become involved with the community?  Not very many, I reckon. 

Churches which operate on the mechanism on giving people what the people want are essentially functioning as drug dealers.  They give out something which immediately gratifies, but just like the drug user who realizes that more and more of the drug is needed to achieve the same high, the itinerant church-goer whose primary concern is what satisfies him will go to another church that can achieve the same thing with little or no effort on his part. 

This is not a solution for the problems churches face with today's youth who are not as religiously devout as their parents.  It's only a band aid for a leaky dam.  If a church offers the same as the world, why does it expect a mass exodus from the world to inside its doors? Why would someone in love with the world want to do the same thing but in a location which maybe has some pews, some religious art and a pastor?  Why?

The Church is eternal and Christ says that the Gates of Hell will never prevail against Her.  So why do so many churches continue to try and evangelize using only the most ephemeral of methods?

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