I believe we are losing the heart of worship for Hollywood production values

I can't tell you how many times I have heard those involved in worship in previous church's use terms like production or performance when speaking of worship services. I would agree with them that what was being done was indeed a production or performance based on where the focus was (lighting, graphics, mood, ambience). These things in and of themselves aren't bad but I am growing more concerned that the Hollywood production values are becoming so woven into the fabric of worship that it is all about the 'experience' and 'feeling' we get while worshipping rather than it being completely about worshipping and honoring God.

I live around many large churches and they all have one thing in common, very large, very expensive worship services consisting of a staff of 50 just to run lighting, audio, video and 'production' of the 'show'. It really feels like a television studio in these rooms and not a church service. Is the Holy Spirit still present in these services? I believe so, but what I am most concerned for are those that are 'caught up' in the experience of the 'concert every sunday' kind of mindset and that the Jesus they think they are worshipping is not the one of Scripture. They would be bored if Jesus just stood at the front of the crowd and told the parables or gave the Sermon on the Mount without thousands of dollars of eye-catching graphics and stirring music scores behind him. I walked away from a church a few years ago because of just this issue. After speaking with those in the highest leadership of the church concerning the inappropriateness of the focus of our worship on the worship leader and not on Christ. There were 5 cameras in the room all manned and we sat in a room with massive plasma screens and $100,000 worth of other assorted equipment. This groundswell of 'technicalizing' the services happened so fast that I really didn't see it coming until I was waist-deep and feeling ashamed at how I had participated in robbing God of His glory. I was told that the generation that is most important are the teens and twenties and they are watching shows like 24 and others where the cameras constantly change angles you are expected to only have a 2 minute attention span. Is that really what we're after? To 'wow' people into a relationship with Jesus? Should we not expect for His death on the cross be sufficient?

What are your thoughts?

Your brother in Christ,
Jason

Views: 8

Comment by Erin Sweeney on June 29, 2009 at 1:38pm
I totally agree with you on this. I was watching something on CBN and I was really put off by how expensive and gradios everything was. I understand the mentality of wanting to reach a "broader audience for the Lord", but does all that glitz and glamor really win people to Jesus? Millions and millions of dollers are wasted every year in large churches on the production of the weekly service and on television sets that look like mansions. Why not take those millions of dollors and use them to keep the local soup kitchens stocked, and the homeless shelters supplied. That's worship. Taking care of the least of these. In the end God's not going to ask us how many people we entertained each week, He's going to ask us what we did to serve those in real need.
Comment by Thomas Haahr on June 29, 2009 at 8:45pm
Thanks Jason for bringing up this topic - There is a lot to think about here. I am from Denmark, so writeing in english isn´t my strongest side :) and therefore I´ll make it short..
I know Brian McLaren might be a bit controversial here on WTR. Anyways, I think he makes some great points about worship, art and propaganda which is worth thinking about. Found a clip on youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPRKCmYuCWA&feature=related
I´m not sure what I want to say with this - just that I came to think about this clip when I read your blog here. I might write some thoughts about this later. *t
Comment by Mark J Rieger on June 30, 2009 at 2:30am
Oh yeah, that's hitting the nail pretty hard. I will say that the most intense worship I ever experience occured in a church that did eventually have a TV broadcast and we did start investing in cameras, lights and such. But it was never at the cost of the worship. Rather it came in after the church moved in revival for several years.

This past weekend I attended a worship service for students at a school of counseling and ministry. There could not have been more than 15 people in the whole chappel. The worship leader was there solo with a keyboard, a Fender amp with vacuum tubes, and a bare bones sound system. The worship consisted of two songs - but it went on for almost an hour. The presence of God was so heavy that it affect each of the speakers. Why? Because the worship was unfettered by other peoples control or time limits. The worship was free to go wherever the spirit directed.

I'm not against lights camera and action IF and only if, the worship is touching the heart of God. As I've read different blogs on this site, I'm finding the same lack of understanding of true worship all over the place. 3 songs or 4 songs? How long?

Is that it? Is that the best we have for God? What about Christ and Christ crucified. When we will give up all that we have built, allow ourselves to be crucified with him, and then worship him until he shows up and then get out of the way?
Comment by Jason Hand on June 30, 2009 at 12:25pm
To Thomas- I have listened to several things from McLaren and I do not at all agree with the majority of his theology so I don't think I will agree with his comments on worship but I will check it out.

Mark- My question to you is how do you know that people are worshipping God and not just caught up in the concert experience? If you look at peoples reaction at most concerts for the last 50 years it is almost a mirror image of of how people react and behave in worship services today. Are people really worshipping God or are they merely enjoying the music and the shared excitement that is found in larger crowds?

I agree that there can be real, authentic worship amidst concert lighting, camera men walking around getting candid shots of people with hands raised on the screen to further intensify the feelings. I just want to draw attention to the issue because I don't believe we consider what might be more true than anything else which is that we are not worshipping God but rather the band and/or worship leader.

I have been a part of Kairos prison ministry for 13 years and I agree with you that some of the most spirit-led and spirit-filled worship came from a simple keyboard and acoustic guitar with no fancy lighting, moving graphics or clever emotion intensifying tricks.

When you get back to what is the true heart of worship you are left with a person who is willing to surrender all for the sake of Christ and fall at His feet and cry Holy! If you can't do that in all areas of your life at any time (even without music!) then maybe you don't understand what worship is.

I believe that what you are attracted with is what you are attracted to. If you are attracted to Christ because of the feeling you get when at a worship concert then are you really attracted to Christ Himself or the feeling you get? Would you still be attracted without the concert?

Your brother in Christ,
Jason
Comment by Jason Hand on June 30, 2009 at 6:03pm
CS,

That is a dangerous way to bring people to a saving knowledge of Christ. I don't know whether you are aware of it or not but Scripture tells us that the 'narrow road' (aka salvation) is not where most people that call themselves 'Christian' will go but rather the 'broad road' which leads to destruction. Jesus made it very clear that many will come in His name to lead even the elect astray.

Rob Bell is another one of those people that I completely disagree with on the understanding of Scripture and Theology. He and McClaren are the founders of the emergent church movement and I believe they are unwittingly leading many astray with their teaching.

I hope that people in general give much greater care to making sure that people know the Jesus of the Bible so they won't be holding on to a false hope in a God of their own creation and not the real Jesus.

I know that of the people that would say they are Christian that I come across very few have ever seriously considered what they believe and compared it to Scripture. That is truly amazing to me because something as serious as where you will spend eternity is too important not to invest the time to verify if it is authentic and based on the truth.

The real question is, if you aren't worshipping the true God then who are you worshipping?

Your brother in Christ,
Jason
Comment by Kim Black on July 8, 2009 at 2:52pm
The Holy Spirit wanted me to share Paul's words below in at Phillippians 1:15-18:

"It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice."

What this says to me is that no matter how Jesus's name is preached, we should want Him to be preached and rejoice in that alone! Whatever equipment, motives, etc., perhaps, should not be our focus. The Lord will deal with people on that. Our focus should be to rejoice when Christ is being preached. Hallelujah!

Also, let's remember that we are the church (the temple of the living God), individually and corporately. The Holy Ghost lives within us. The building is not the church. So any "church service" that is going on can occur anywhere at anytime. God is looking for worshippers to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Since the Spirit of truth lives in us, He wants our worship to be led by the Spirit of truth in us.

Blessings and Love!
Kim Black aka K.I.M.
Comment by Kim Black on July 8, 2009 at 2:58pm
I forgot. The Spirit has told me to consider how I worship God. This relationship is between Him and me through Christ Jesus. If I worship Him as He wants, then the " heart of worship" is not lost. There is a remnant (and there always is) that worships God. He knows who they are.

Blessings,
Kim Black aka K.I.M.

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