How come?

I was reading a couple ministry blogs this morning who were talking about worship services they either produce or visited. I don’t need to link to them as they are easy enough to find.

Now that we go to a church with zero theatrics… and new people still come, and people still worship, and people still experience faith for the first time, and people still get connected, and people still give, and people are ever happy with our service!

It made me wonder… how come people always want to do more with their worship services and not less?

Why don’t bloggers brag about using one less camera man? One less drummer? One less actor? One less video screen? One less smoke machine? One less lighting board?

Why is more noteworthy and less not?

Why does over-the-top = excellence in worship?

I have my theories as to why this happens in America, England, and Australia but few other places in the world. But I’ll just ask my friends… why is this so? Am I the only one who is annoyed by the logic that more = blessing, less = curse in the church? Am I the only one that finds massive theatrical production odd for “church?” Am I the only one who wonders how odd it must be for visitors to walk into a theater fit for a broadway production of Rent?

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

13 comments

  1. I’m in a 310 year old Presbyterian church. We have been known to use a projector on occasion, and we use microphones. That’s all the tech we use.

    Even our alternative service uses at most a few non-rock musicians with amps. We sometimes change the lighting to be softer.

    We’re growing slowly. No Rent here – just a good old fashioned worship service.

    People tell us that the most effective part of our alternative service is personal testimony – kind of a new concept for us.

  2. You’d enjoy Yaconelli’s “Downtime” book; this is one of his big points, that we have too much stuff going on and sometimes the more we can take away the better the environment is for connecting with God. I know I’ve struggled with the line between entertainment and worship!

  3. Why do churches need all of that? Because they think that if they have big numbers then they are a success. It’s not about numbers at all.

    Then again, what do I know? We still use the organ at my church 🙂

  4. Katie- I think you are correct. People think that big production equals good.

    Matt- I don’t think it’s about that mix necessarily.

    Maybe there is a false assumption that a big “experience” will be “seeker-friendly?” I just kind of think all of the bands, big stages, production stuff will scare the heck out of visitors. I mean, how is that approachable? How is that representative of God at all?

  5. Adam,

    Can you please email me the blog you read today that bragged about using one MORE camera man? One MORE drummer? One MORE actor? One MORE video screen? One MORE smoke machine? One MORE lighting board?

    I mean, when church bloggers resort to bragging about using a newer, bigger lighting board, I think it’s safe to assume they’re going to hear the words from Jesus, “Depart from me, I know you not!”.

    Everyone in my church is probably going to go to Hell. We use (gasp) TWO video screens & TWO projectors. We have a band, and we only sing hymns once every few weeks…but that doesn’t count, because we use electric guitars with distortion!

    This new theology of bigger = bad, bigger = unholy, bigger = Jesus isn’t in it is getting tiring. Why can’t we just be excited about what God is doing in each of our churches? Why can’t we just bless the fact that our churches have different flavors, and that those flavors attract different kinds of people, believers and unbelievers alike?

    No, it’s just easier to single out the bigger guy and complain about what they’re doing.

  6. Todd- do you really want me to link that stuff here? I thought about it but didn’t want to sound like a jerk.

    I’m not condemning the practice. Nor am I jealous of a church because of what they have or don’t have.

    Maybe the question is confessional?

    I know I’ve sat in leadership meetings and heard how if we had/did just one more cool thing… people would come!

    And that’s not my theology necessarily. I don’t think that if something is big it is bad or visa versa!

    It is clear from reading these blogs though that folks are so excited about “one more new thing” or one-upping themselves from the month before that I think they can lose sight of their audience. I’d guess I’d like to really get to some motivations… is it that they really think all the hype is good for the church or is it just a techno-fascination?

    I gotta say, I’ve experienced much more of the latter than the former.

    I’m not condemning… trying to flesh it out in my own mind.

  7. Our church has a good balance of more/less. We have weeks where there is a choir and brass section then weeks when there is a couple guitars and a few singers. Its not about bigger or better, really. I guess we just like variety. I do think its a matter of taste and individuality of each church. They attract different crowds. I don’ think there is anything wrong with it as long as their main goal is to reach people for Christ.

  8. Yeah, I appreciate wanting to “flesh it out”. But it seems clear (it seems) that your bent is big church=bad. The post invited those kinds of responses.

    I didn’t ask for you to link them, because I’m not sure that would have been so God-honoring. I did ask for you to email them. Because again, if guys are blogging about the use of ONE MORE lighting board, or simulcasting their services in HD, I would agree with you… i think that’s an issue.

  9. matt- that’s a great point. perhaps I’m just silly, but I think that there is some major synchrotism between the american dream and Jesus’ dream for his people.

  10. easy, the fact is when it comes to so called ‘worship’. God has heard you new songs before, (he exists outside time remember!) God doesn’t care about your fancy ass HD projector, your cutting edge worship techniques/band. In fact to be on the flip side, he doesn’t even care if your using an organ. The fact of the matter is RAW. God wants people to give their all in worship, pure, not spur of the moment. Raw worship. This is obvious. Such these things help the people connect with God. But you can’t force people into worship. They have to come with a willing heart, and last time I checked, singing ‘God of this City’ tugs more on the heart strings than on the God strings. I could go on, but I’m just pointing out the obvious

  11. “Such these things help the people connect with God.” should be “Sure these things” and “tugs more on the heart strings” should be ” emotional strings”

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