Recently a church attracted some controversy (I know right, how unusual) for playing ‘Purple Rain” at the start of their service. Truth be if you are going to criticise a church for using a secular song in their service, you had better criticise me. I often employ secular songs during the service. I listen to them, check the lyrics, how they feel and will often use them for a purpose.
But the deeper question for me, in putting aside those who just like to ‘church watch’, is the question for us church leaders, where is the church heading in this regard? And is that okay? Some churches do now have lighting, musicians and performances of music which are not cringe inducing at all. In fact in the area of visual medium in some ways the contemporary church is leading the way. Environmental projection is one.
At what point do we become a destination for entertainment rather than spirituality? Or are the two mutually exclusive?
If we think back, the best art has always been found at some point, in the church. You only have to go back and look at incredible work in incredible church buildings to see that.
A cursory reading of the book of Jeremiah reveals the best performance drama, authored and directed by God, starring the actor Jeremiah.
The early church put on drama, it was a way to get the message across. It used visual mediums. Performance art. Sculpture. Painting.
For todays Church I don’t think it has to be expensive or high end. But it needs to be authentic, well done, and a reflection of who you are as a church community. Consider the pub musician. No one thinks he needs an expansive light show. A few coloured Leds on a stand and he is away. People enjoy the show for what it is. The smaller church can think about lighting, how to present the gospel in emotive and dramatic ways. We owe the gospel that much and more.
The stadium show, well that is best left to those who have the resources. But perhaps we best not criticise them. Perhaps they are just following the example of so many of Europes great cathedrals before them,