Opening song, lights and big drums...

(Tim, w/thanks to Jake and Dan G.) By God's grace, neither my wife nor I have ever been in such a service. All the years Willow Creek was riding the crest of DuPage County's wave of population and money growth, Mary Lee and I avoided the place like the plague. (We both grew up in DuPage County.)

So watching this clip, I asked a couple men from our congregation last night whether there really are churches like this one?

They promised there were and I have to take their word for it.


I have family that go to "that church". It's scary how real that is.

Australia's Hillsong is worse than this, and unlike the vimeo clip, 'real life'. Look for their 'worship songs' on Youtube and you'll see what I mean.

FWIW, the "link" (I think) is not showing up as I view this particular blog, either from the main listing, or from its dedicated page.

Nice :)

I was at a church like this about a year ago in South Bend, IN.

Disgustingly awful. And depressingly sad seeing all of the lost sheep there offering themselves up to the wolves.

My first response to this video was "Ouch. So much of what megachurch has become is a show, and we, at our small church, seem to be trying to emulate that". It is all too easy (and too often done) to replace real encounters with God with emotional or other sensational experience and entertainment, and I have my concerns about what and how we (including myself, as one of the worship leaders) do things in the name of worship.

HOWEVER, such replacement does not have to necessarily follow 'opening song, lights, and big drums'. There is nothing inherently wrong with those things, in fact they can be very good tools in the worship of God. Psalm 150 is the great example; and although it doesn't mention lights, lights are just another sensory element like sound.

And pauses, lowering and raising your voice for dramatic emphasis - what's wrong with that? Those are only communication techniques, and if they are being employed to communicate truth from a sincere heart, how is that bad? Any tool or technique is ultimately only as good or bad as the person using it. This blog is the product of Presbyterian pastors. Am I to believe that Presbyterian preachers never use dramatic emphasis? D. James Kennedy was Presbyterian that I heard on occasion. He certainly used it. Don’t Presbyterian pastors often wear robes? And at its root, really what is that for, other than dramatic effect? And how are big drums any different than big organs? One could reasonably argue that drums, and even guitars (In Rev. 14 & 15 Greek: kithara, from which the word guitar is derived (somewhat tongue-in-cheek)) are more scripturally justified than an organ or piano.

Do you not think that in more traditional, liturgical churches there are those, maybe many, who confuse their liturgy and traditions with an actual encounter with God, just like some, maybe many, in the contemporary churches do with the modern liturgy mocked in the video. And isn't that really what it is?

HOWEVER, in the book of Acts, as well as throughout the world throughout history, God added and adds thousands to the church, and worship was and is powerful without the aid of such things. The apostle Paul wrote of how he was not a great speaker, but his preaching was accompanied by the demonstration of the Spirit and power. What they had, and have, is the actual power and presence of God. And that is what we need first and foremost, and then let the other things follow.

>>Am I to believe that Presbyterian preachers never use dramatic emphasis?

Dear Bob,

You'd find the authors of this blog, if not the readers, agreeing with much of what you write, above. Not all schlock is schlock, but sometimes it does reach critical mass.


I have family who attend a church like this...

The music, atmosphere, pastoral encouragement, and flow of the service were strikingly similar.

One thing missing from the video is how they had the Lord's Supper. Well, first of all no one in the historic Church would recognize what they did as the Supper, but they had some of the trappings.

At the end of the preaching the pastor-figure sat on his stool and informed us that at the corners of the Church there were placed small cups of wine and pieces of bread. If anyone wanted to go have a time alone with Jesus at His table they were welcome to go. I almost ran out of the place.

al sends

There are churches like this, and it's horrible. The question is, by scoffing and mocking, are you going to cause your brothers in those churches to stumble? The tone of this video upsets me. It is callous and scoffing and is not at all how believers should rebuke each other when they are in error. It is poison-tipped and unkind. Strong, committed rebuke is great. Mocking is not.

Interestingly enough this video, comes from churches that do this......I first saw it on Mark Driscoll's facebook page.

Dear Roger,

I think you're off here. There's no rebuke in the video.

This video was created by a church that actually practices this type of worship - Northpoint in Alpharetta, GA. They're doing it in self-mockery, which is the most confusing thing about the video. How they can see the obvious errors of this system - and make good satire of it! - and not see the need to change is beyond me.

In the WA ( Seattle / Bellevue ) area, this is the norm. I have seen this far too many times. It sickens me.

Romans 1:28-32 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

That about sums it up.

Wow....thanks Dan. That is indeed something else, and very sad. While I stand by my thoughts on mockery and causing others to stumble in principle, I guess I need to check my facts first! Thank you for the correction.

The video isn't on Vimeo any more, but it's on Youtube:

You can only pull off a charade like the video pictures if the pastors and musicians are not personally known by the congregation. If the congregation knows their leaders (sins, weaknesses, warts and all) this could never happen.

Similarly in the other direction with the multi-site model where most sites have a movie screen image instead of a preacher: a congregation whose pastor knew his flock such that who was there and how they were taking the sermon *affected* how he preached would never accept a video image preacher. They would say, "This is not preaching at all!"

(Unless they were tired of being preached to and just wanted to watch TV.)

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