So when has a church become a rock concert?
Here was his answer:
“When rock concerts and worship services are indistinguishable, then we’re of this world, not just in it.”
I think that’s a really fascinating and accurate answer on a few levels, actually. For one, because it reminds us of the words of Jesus in John 17: 14-19:
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”
Romans 12:2 says something similar:
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
There’s a tension in Scripture which has often been dubbed “in the world, but not of the world.” In many cases, this has often been used to defend a kind of hyper-religious isolationism: as in we have to put up with being here, but let’s separate ourselves so as not to infect ourselves.
But nothing could be further from the truth. We are to be different, but we are actually sent into the world in order to help transform it.
Now that I’ve set that foundation, I’ll return to the second point that I liked about the authors statement. I do believe that a rock concert and a worship service are supposed to look and feel different. Truth be told, I’ve never been to a rock concert before, but I’ve seen parts of them on tv, and when people in church are acting indistinguishably from people in a concert, then you have a problem.
Again, McKenzie says:
- “If you are in a room that has been darkened with all the lights on a single person or small group, if you can only hear them and no one else, if one person’s face looks down on everyone from a tall screen, whom are you meant to worship?”
- “When you sing praise to God, why isn’t your voice good enough?”
- “Why does your voice have to be drowned out by a sound system?”
- “Why can’t you hear your neighbor sing?”
- “Why is it necessary to have a close up look at the preacher or singer on a giant video screen?”
I think as leaders, these are all sobering questions for all of us to think about. In some cases, are we actually trying to mimic rock concerts because we think that it will attract more people? Let’s remember that the earliest accounts we have of Christian gatherings and worship make it clear that “Christian worship was designed to enable Christians to worship God” (Alan Kreider). It was never a tool or a strategy to reach unbelievers. What challenged and converted unbelievers was not actually what happened in church at all, but what happened on the road, in their communities, as people were living out what it meant to be a called out and transformed people of God.
So what about you? What are the signs that a church service has crossed over to becoming like a rock concert? To leave a comment scroll below.
[image by leftovercricket]