Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sunday’s Coming

Have you seen the little spoof video ‘Sunday’s Coming’?  If you haven’t, you should have a look.  You should also check out the comments about it by Cathy Lynn Grossman at USA Today’s ‘Faith and Reason’ section.  Cathy says, among other things, “I once went to a conference of young evangelical pastors and every one of them looked like a character on this video.”

As Cathy says of the video, “it parodies the contemporary worship service style now seen on stage -- or rather the pulpit -- coast to coast.”

It has bothered me a bit for some time to see what unimaginative conformists Christians often are.  About five years ago my family made a little pilgrimage around our area to visit churches.  As my wife noted, nine out of ten ministers wore polo shirts embroidered with their church’s insignia.  It was ‘in’ at that time, and there weren’t many dissenters.  As a song in a musical I once heard said:

Conform, conform, I simply must conform.
To think that I could be myself would cause me alarm.

What is especially amazing is that this little spoof video was produced by a church does exactly the thing being spoofed in the video!  As Cathy our commentator tells us:

Indeed, a video on the church's home page about their for-real Sunday morning experience that looks at first glance like families attending a PG rock concert set amid vast parking lots.

For some time now, even small churches have been attempting to produce their version of this stage show on Sunday mornings – and sometimes Saturday evenings (that’s another discussion).  They are not usually quite as good a show as the bigger congregations, mostly because they can’t afford as much equipment and they can’t afford to hire a truly rockin’ worship leader.  But they try as best they can to be just like everyone else.

If the point of congregational worship is to focus our attention on something and Someone that transcends this world, it seems a bit odd to try to do that in a direct imitation of a rock concert/television production.  But what could I possibly know about it?  After all, I am not the ‘pastor’ of a rockin’ mega-church.

I know that ‘the show must go on.’  But why does it have to be the same show at every church?  Is there not room for a bit of originality?  Are there no ideas for church gatherings that are something other than churched-up copies of current culture?

My favorite image from ‘Sunday’s Coming’ is near the beginning where balding ‘worship leader’ is powdering his head, presumably so the bright stage lights will not send a blinding reflection to anyone in the audience.  But even if that happened, wouldn’t it just be a contemporary church version of the blinding light that came to Paul on the road to Damascus?

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