Worship

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/afewgrownmen/2013/05/why-men-have-stopped-singing-in-church/

Interesting article I stumbled across. As you all should know, worship is a really important thing to me.

What do you guys think? I don’t necessarily think men have stopped worshipping in church over all, but the underlying point is that we’re shifting away from actual congregational worship (read: bad). This sort of ties in with a lot of stuff I’ve been thinking about recently concerning church, and so here’s something to meditate on: what would your ideal church be? Think about what the most glorifying, powerful, interesting church would be like. There are so many components to a church: various ministries such as adult, single, youth, children, outreach, worship, . Do you think there should be more ministries? Less? Do you think women should teach? Do you think this hypothetical church should host weekly raves?

I’ve been having some thoughts on the matter that I hope to condense into a post that I’ll add to this one in the comments below. But what do you guys think? Build an imaginary church and share your vision of it. Don’t worry too much about limitations, besides the usual stuff, like gravity.

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4 thoughts on “Worship

  1. After lots of inward deliberation, I’ve come up with my ideal church. The ministry is filled with people who have a passion for their area of service, the worship consists of true, good, and beautiful songs. Oh, and the building doesn’t defy gravity, probably because there is no building.

    An ideal church simply cannot be confined to a building, because we would be idealizing the building rather than the body. An ideal body of believers is one where all people are treated as God’s precious creation, and all people worship their Creator with all that they are, be it in outreach, worship or even Sunday School. It’s sad to see men aren’t singing in church, because it is a definite problem, but if we invite more men into ministry work, that work will produce fruit… AKA worshiping God openly through song.

    1. I’ll always dream of heaven bound cathedrals, Ryan. You can’t stop that dream.

      I agree with all of your points, of course, but I don’t think you can assume ministry work will instantly translate into opening someone’s heart for worship. Rather, I think it would be a ministry in of itself to try and show people the importance of worship, and music’s role in that.

  2. You have convicted me with another set of posts, Mike. I have the issue of being a perfectionist with what I write, so projects are left running in the background for a long time (some running right now: Hello, Warn Them, Broken, Train Writing and, of course, editing Spring). I need to be more comfortable with having casual dialogues.

    We have been talking a whole lot about singing and the music of the church in music class. I have never had more clarity in the realm of aesthetics.

    I’m not sure why the blog post is oddly focused on men. It’s not just men; it’s everyone. No one is singing. But this cuts to a deeper problem; no one is literate. Even worse, those who are not literate don’t care, they just write their own songs, as if their minds are endless fonts of creativity and originality.

    Every generation of Christians up until the past 100 years has built on the traditions of the past. The composers actually cared what tradition had to say. And now? Not only do we not study what came before, we don’t know and we don’t care. What the hell? How can you make good, original music if you don’t know what’s already been done? What’s been done well? It’s the same thing that Edmund Burke said. How can you look on a posterity, when you don’t look back at your ancestry? You can’t! You’re an idiot if you go and become a composer and have never studied the past. You are not only bound to be incredibly boring, your creative well will dry up and you will have nothing to say. Period.

    What’s so strange, I’ve realized, is that our generation is okay with not knowing. What is with that? These past two months, Dr. Erb (the music everything out here) has demonstrated to me the huge treasury of music Christians made. We were on top of the game for a thousand years!

    The majority of Christians, then, don’t care at all. They make “new” music (whatever that even means. Who cares if it’s new? It won’t last, because it’s not rooted in tradition. It’s rooted in schlock. Tradition stands for a reason).

    Honestly, imagine a world where we treated our traditions of truth like we’ve treated the tradition of our aesthetics. What if we just stopped reading Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Athanasius, Tertullian, etc, etc, etc, (and we are beginning to forget them, i.e. confuse ourselves and build from nothing)? We would not only be idiots, we would repeat mistakes and be very very boring. We would be unable to increase our understanding.

    We have rejected the tradition of our aesthetics. But our Christian fathers didn’t give us books, like the theologians did. They gave us cathedrals and paintings and music and stories like Paradise Lost and the Inferno (although these aren’t necessarily made for church). Why have we forgotten about it? We have abandoned our inheritance and given it to museums and gawking pagans.

    We need to get our head out of the gutter, or risk the same thing that Edmund Burke warned fools about. We need to back to the past, not because the past is always good, but because the past was once us. They made mistakes and they succeeded. We need to be literate in our own tradition – read our own books. How else will we write?

    The amazing thing about Dr. Erb, is that he is composing music all the time. And the music is frequently amazing. Just this week, he wrote a composition for Psalm 128. It is absolutely beautiful. It gave me chills when the choir sang it. He is doing what we should be doing. And no, I am not brainwashed. I’m mesmerized that someone actually has clarity in aesthetics. And it’s so wonderful! There is clarity in aesthetics, just like there can be in ethics (study history) and theology (study books). All that has to be done is to stop being so damn self-focused and realize that there are cathedrals and fugues around us.

    The perfect church to me at this point will meet in St. Lewis Cathedral (or should it be St. Clive Cathedral?) in the Fox Valley next to the river. Sufjan Stevens will write new music every week, there will be a blessed choir, the Word will be preached, there will be kneeling, there will be crosses and good smells, there will be baptisms, there will be marriages and funerals. There will be a huge banquet table, from the doors to the rafters, and we will eat bread and drink wine. And we will pray and fill our bodies and minds. And there will be more pleasure than Bacchus would know what to do with.

    1. Cool! Perfectionism can be a useful tool. Don’t abandon it entirely!

      Christians were ‘on top of the game’ in the middle ages, but it helped that it was funded and enforced by harsh theocracies. I think the challenge now is for independent artists–with the innumerable tools and ideas given to us by those before us–to find new ways to love and express worship for God while still reflecting on the traditions of the past. The mainstream christian music scene is a worn out mutt that is both fervently humping the cash cow that is contemporary christian culture at large and begging for creative scraps from the secular table. It is too focused on what is temporally pleasing and consumer based.

      Everything goes back to tradition eventually–everything humans make is based off of things other humans have made. New music isn’t bad because it’s separated from tradition, new music is bad because it ignores the tradition at large and only–and uncreatively–focuses on tradition that has formed in the past century, by much better artists.

      Amen to that, brother.

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