My wife and I belong to a great church which has in recent years become more and more “contemporary” in worship style. We think we understand the reasoning for more contemporary music, but are having questions about the “crazy” lighting…flashing strobes, bright and changing background scenes, etc. Does it enhance worship in some way? Can anyone give a good explanation to the use of these rather new elements in “church”?
If such lighting effects would be applied during special occasions and only when appropriate, I think it will be excellent. But if it is during regular worship service then it would become either superfluous or distracting, both of which are inconsistent to God-centered worship.
Though I may not say this to be an issue worthy to cause someone to find another church, I would say the distraction it is causing you as a long-time church member is enough to discuss this with your pastor or worship leader in the spirit of sincerity.
Well, just mulling the thing over, it would seem to me that worship should be predominantly a spiritual experience rather than a sensual one. What you are describing sounds like an assault on one’s senses of sight and sound. I imagine that it would produce a certain level of adrenal rush which could be easily confused for a spiritual experience.
Of course, I could be picturing something very different from what I would see if I actually attended your service, but based on your description, this is how it is coming across.
I would be very interested in hearing your church leadership’s explanation of why this is a better way to lead the saints in worship than appealing to the new nature of the Spirit which responds to the word of God, prayer, songs, hymns and spiritual songs, the teaching and preaching of the word, and fellowship with the saints.
Please understand, I am not complaining…just asking for input on the reasoning. We have visited several contemporary churches and read a few explanations of the style of presentation. Most of what I hear and read is that there really is more attention given to appealing to the “seekers” than to the “saints.”
I know I’m making a big assumption here, but how are the saints supposed to grow if the primary activity is entertaining (and perhaps informing) unchurched folks? (Again possibly overreacting): Beware of a church that feeds its people only from a baby bottle instead of focusing on providing solid food for the necessary growth of its members. Please forgive me if my comments do not fit your actual situation; this is perhaps better read as a general criticism of the worst aspects of the “seeker sensitive” approach.
Craig, your comment is correct about the need for the believers to grow. That opens another can of worms of course. In my opinion, part of the reason that [many] saints haven’t grown is the lack of deeper teaching. And the lack of depth has curtailed the market place witness…thus the lack of actual growth of the body…thus the desperation to bring in more bodies in order to (hopefully) evangelize them…thus the presentation that will appeal to the unsaved seeker. I’m not trying to justify that, but simply to understand the reasoning behind it.
Agree with you, @golden.allen
The church today seems to be enamoured by numbers and size of the congregation. Jesus, on the other hand, when some of his followers went away because they found some of his teachings to be ‘hard’, responded by asking if any more wanted to go away!
We have been called to build ‘oaks of righteousness’ (Isaiah 61), but are satisfied instead by a large number of saplings. I perhaps sound a bit stuffy when I say this, but it comes out of personal experience of the foolishness of neglecting the building of disciples.
That is a very insightful observation, @tonyabthomas. Interestingly, in Mark 1:32-39, Jesus left crowds who had gathered at the door to experience miraculous healings to go and preach the gospel, because that was His real mission. The message, not the miracles. Crowds are not necessarily a sign of success.
Haven’t thought of it in that light before. Reveals even more of the lack we have of strong trees planted by the River of Living Water (Psalms 1). What will happen when the raging storms come and reach the multiple the baby orchards?!
Well put. I have enjoyed reading this thread. @golden.allen thank you for bringing this topic up. This has kind of been on my heart, especially in regards to the verse in Revelations 2:14 with the “doctrines of Balaam”—adopting the movements of secularism (or at least appearing to be conforming to them; I.e. hard rock, lights, imorality, etc) and the distinguishing line between secularism and the Christian.
This is a great question and I agree with what Dennis has said; perhaps at certain times or special occasions, however, if it becomes a distraction, then our focus comes off Him. I have been part of worship teams for 25+ years and have witnessed from a different vantage point, how distractions can allow our minds to wander and not worship our Lord. My philosophy as a worship leader is; less of me and more of Him. I’m someone who likes the lights dimmed so as not to bring attention to those of us who are leading worship. That said, if lighting is used in a tasteful manner, it can enhance our worship experience.
I would exercise caution with respect to your comment. Question; is the church building a ministry for the Lord or, are they creating an environment that creates and strengthens a relationship with Jesus. I cite this as our own personal experience with a local church of excess of 15,000 attendees to which we wanted to join in to service but was refused due to a internal culture that was presented to us. Cultures lead to political ways whereas as a born again Christian coming to Christ on 10-10-10 (October 10, 2010) my eyes turn away from the glitter and Hollywood presentation. Our precious Lord looks to the heart.
Know what you mean. The darkness is something I cannot get over in my church. I am told by the young people that they get into the music better rather than visiting with people next to them or worried about how they look, the darkness hides any of those concerns. I on the other hand like to see my fellow believers and smile or ask how they are doing and I like to take notes in the sermons to remember things later. Guess the flashing lights is like the same theater affect of darkness, to make you feel the music like a rock concert. Sometimes I have to do on line or go somewhere else as I just don’t want to go into a dark room for 2 hours. I really don’t understand it either. Maybe because there are not traditional churches with pretty stain glass windows and arches and statures, the darkness and lights hides the plain building surroundings.
Personally, I am not with all the glitzy, flashy and noisy church sevices, it is as @jlyons states, “an assault on ones’s senses”. I miss the Sunday night-, or mid-week services where only the hungry worshippers visit.
In any case, I do believe these types of services can attract the younger minds, after all, Satan will try to cater to the young minds by any means necessary.
Now, I understand this will leave the mature Christian wanting, and yes more than likely the church service may serve only milk instead of meat and potatoes, but that is why there are other ministries, which we can freely visit and develop our walk with God on a deeper level.
Also I would like to add, yes, these big churches may raise a lot of saplings, but we were once saplings. It is by our appetite and God’s spirit who draws us, that we grow into oaks.
We can not all be evangelists or apologist (praise God for Ravi because that is where I get some of my meat and potatoes from) etc… Some shall lead while others follow. In the meantime, the oaks can provide shelter for the sapling, so that the sapling may have some protection from the elements while it matures.
I also feel the churches should provide other opportunities for spiritual mature Christians, it is a necessity. Accordingly, perhaps this can be addressed with leadership in the church.
Thank you for all your feedback.