Thoughts on Modern Worship

14 09 2007

 

Copyright 2007 Kelsey Hough. All rights reserved.

For the past few years, sadly, I’ve been far from impressed with the Christian concerts I’ve attended. The concerts have been everything from the small unknown local bands, to the ones whose songs dominate most young church goers’ CD players, and some in-between.

At one concert I was at, after the electric guitar solo and light show had ended, the lead singer decided to give an altar call, but he failed to even mention sin and the importance of the Cross, so it turned into a “God Wants to be Your Buddy” talk. I was left wondering if the man had come to a saving knowledge of God, himself.

“Christian” Concerts

At other concerts, there have been big, burly men — who looked like bouncers at a wild night club — whose sole job was to separate the “worshipers” from each other so they don’t hurt someone.

And there are always the hysterical teenage girls who scream about how “hot” the band members are throughout the evening, and then chatter later about what an amazing “worship” experience it was. I do concur that they did spend the evening worshiping, but rather than worshiping the King of Glory, they sang and screamed for the people on the stage. They “worshiped and served the created things rather than the Creator.” (Romans 1: 25)

The numbers at these “Christian” events seem to showcase how Christianity itself is morphing into something which closely resembles the MTV culture — materialistic, self-absorbed, lust-saturated, and run and operated by a few rock stars on a stage, rather than by men and women of spiritual maturity. It isn’t the music industry, specifically, that I find heartbreaking. It’s modern Christianity on a whole, and it just manifests more fully in concert settings.

Set Apart

When did Christianity and worship stop being about Jesus Christ dying for us, and become about Consumerism, instead?

As a Christian, I’ve been called to be set apart, but the modern church is on its way to becoming nothing more than the sanitized version of what’s around it — the PG version of an MTV world. God doesn’t want fans, He wants disciples – people who are willing to pick up their cross and follow Him. It’s not a fun or simplistic calling; it’s a call to die.  But it’s only in dying to ourselves that we can truly live.

I often wish I could show people how amazing what Christ did for us truly is, to somehow be able to hold the wonder and the glory of the Cross in my hands, but it’s like trying to explain a sunset to someone who’s never seen colors.

True worship, which is a lifestyle not a musical style, is such a beautiful thing — an expression of love and thankfulness for our Lord and Savior. I think it’s heartbreaking when anything else takes its place.

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When the Gospel Isn’t the Gospel

21 07 2007

By Kelsey Hough

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‘Tis the Season for popsicles, camping trips and seasonally ineffective street evangelists.

I was plodding along, completely engrossed in my own thoughts, when a little, gray haired lady – her arms filled with grocery bags – flagged me down.  In a quiet voice, she leaned in closer to me, and with big eyes and a somewhat crazed smile plastered on her face, she informed me there was something she needed to give me.

As she rummaged around in her brown, winter coat, I half expected her to pull out a plastic fork, or an old gumball wrapper, or even, something to help me contact the aliens with.  But instead of ET’s home number, her hand emerged with two small cards – each about the size of a business card.  She handed them proudly over to me.  Cutesy Christian poems were printed on them in flowery fonts; nope, I wouldn’t be helping ET phone home today.

       When the Message Isn’t the Gospel

“Santa Claus,” she said his name with all the inflections a good storyteller would use when the zombies had emerged and were now wreaking havoc on society, “leads straight to the mall which leads to bankruptcy and depression.”  She looked up so she could stare right into my eyes.  It reminded me of the way a door-to-door salesman would stare at you while he tried to convince you of your overwhelming need for the latest and greatest vacuum cleaner.  I smiled back uncomfortably.

After an awkward silence, she apparently decided I was now ripe for the gospel, and added triumphantly, “But Jesus leads to peace.  Santa has deceived us all, we’ve all ended up at the mall, but you don’t have to stay there, because you can choose to either follow Santa or Jesus.”

The street evangelist looked satisfied, and abruptly walked away without another word, and I continued on my way (ironically, I was on my way to spend the afternoon at the mall) thinking how her “gospel” was enough to make me feel turned off from Christianity. I didn’t tell the lady she was preaching to the choir, because the “Christianity” she was selling was nothing I was willing to defend or own.

I’m sure the woman I ran into was very well meaning, but because the “gospel” she shared with me wasn’t the good news of Christ crucified for sinners, it didn’t make any sense and it wasn’t even seasonally fitting, it was still a turn off.

Ready to Give an Account

The Gospel itself does offend, but it heartbreaking when it’s not the Gospel that’s offending people but someone’s inability to communicate it clearly and effectively. To her benefit, after our run-in I went home and practiced going over all the main points of the Gospel, and it paid off, because only a few days later, while at church, I was asked to explain the Gospel in thirty seconds or less.

You never know when you might need to give an account for the hope that is in you, and because of this 1 Peter 3:15 instructs us to “Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” What would you say if you had to give a reason for the hope that is in you?  If you were suddenly asked, would you be able to present the Gospel clearly and accurately, or — like the woman who talked with me — would it not even be recognizable as the Gospel?