i found this article over at thunderstruck, which is basically a link-fest for all things related to faith and culture. steve beard, a united methodist, does a great job running the site, as evidenced by this review: "Best Christian blog? The astounding Thunderstruck, where Steve Beard lists and links thousands of key articles from a host of sources, all calculated to make Christians think more carefully about their faith and the culture they live in. I have to watch how often I go there; I start clicking on his links, and whoops, it’s suppertime." --John Allan, Christianity & Renewal magazine.
anyway, this article from christianity today caught my attention, and i would encourage you to read it if you are interested in worship and how different people worship and how the church might attract newcomers to church through worship styles. One of the main points of the article, as i read it, is that many churches have tried to make worship "relevant" to certain groups of people (usually twenty or thirty-somethings) by imitating culture. so you get a band that sounds like something you would hear on the radio, and you get a preacher who is trendy and cool, and you make the space look pretty neutral, like a convention or something. or you do whatever you can to make it relevant to your target audience. and i get this, i really do. i think we have to find ways to make the Gospel relevant to an always changing world (or maybe we don't have to make it relevant at all; maybe it already is relevant, we just have to help people see that). but the author of this piece, mark galli, makes a great point when he talks about how some young people have really been drawn in to more liturgical churches where the pastors wear robes and the music is ancient and the liturgy is fixed: he says that this kind of liturgy points to God as someone completely other. he argues that since liturgy doesn't seek to imitate the surrounding culture, it actually serves to show a different way, a better way. it puts some mystery and holiness (other-ness) back into worship.
last night i heard someone read matthew 7 from the message, eugene peterson's translation of the Bible, and i was struck by these words: don't be flip with the sacred. banter and silliness give no honor to God. don't reduce holy mysteries to slogans. in trying to be relevant, you're only being cute and inviting sacrilege.
i am wondering if anyone has any thoughts about this. how much do we redesign worship to make it palatable to unchurched folks? do we stand to lose more or gain more by imitating the culture in terms of 'style?' what do you think about all of this?