Images, media, lights, sound, movement; modern worship has become a highly involved experience connecting almost every sense at once.
Knowing that there is an amazing power in music, and understanding its capacity to open hearts and minds to seek God, it is no doubt that many worship leaders are actively seeking ways in which to further enhance the experience. Picking key points in which to raise the volume, dictating moments of awed silence, and coordinating images with lyrics, the average worship session can quickly become nothing short of a full-scale production.
But, what happens when this push for higher, greater, wider, and intense worship creates a backlash?
As a creative mind, in the middle of a church plant embracing skeptical and “recovering” Christians, I’ve found myself at an interesting crossroads. Many people I’ve recently encountered come from churches with extensive resources with which to create creative worship environments.
Some left due to leadership conflicts, others just out of changing life paths. But, many left because they grew tired of the showy worship norm and cautious about allowing emotion and musical persuasion to define worship. What was once seen as creating an atmosphere, is now interpreted as manipulation.
In conjunction with this, a quest for seeking authentic, transparent relationships with Christ has pushed some ‘recovering’ Christians to the point of refusing all external input in worship. In this scenario, even simple, acoustic, no-frills music is viewed as swaying the emotions, and therefore creating a false sense of encounter with Christ.
With this in mind, what can be done? How can one embrace creativity and arts, and still maintain a sense of authentic, transparent, and raw worship? How can the church pursue inspired worship that creates an atmosphere of celebratory, corporate praise, and shun experiences that are programmed, manufactured, and manipulative?
Over at Ragamuffinsoul.com, I’ve enjoyed reading the ideas that challenge my artful mind and stir my creative soul. But, how can experiences like these be lived out in environments that are much less accepting of traditional Christianity and highly sensitive to suggestion?
How can we truly introduce people to the originator of all things creative, without causing them to distrust that creativity?