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Monday, 19 April 2010

Churching in a time of "me"

A visit to a large Anglican church in the north west Bible belt of Sydney last Sunday was to say the least a revelation. It was the 10am family service with probably over 200 adults after the children had left, after the initial burst of singing.

Key observations:
  • From the structure of the service there was nothing that would have told you that you were in a worshiping community that located itself in the Anglican tradition, no trace of even the most informal of the liturgies from any prayerbook that I am aware of.
  • The music was essentially of the Hillsong style - 'praise" characterised by tunes that are not tuneful, that is not easily singable by the congregation and driven by the instrumentalists and vocalists.
  • The lyrics were focused on the benefit to"me" of what God had done. In one song almost every line had a reference or I and/or me. The drift of the lyrics while supposedly emphasising the wonderful things that God has done for me, ends up focusing on the "me" as being important and the real focus of what is happening.
  • The building had no element of decoration that would have conveyed that you were in a place where people were gathering to celebrate and no artistic expression of the life of the community and its relationship to God, the community and the world.
Questions that came to mind:
  • How much is the cultural emphasis on our role as consumers infiltrating our worship?
  • In an era in which churches are competing in a marketplace of choice how can we build critical resistance against consumerism and inculcate the characteristics of the beatitudes and the challenge of the call to discipleship and community?
  • How do we hand on the traditions of the faith as a challenge and a claim on us rather than a feel good consumer option?

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