Gimmicky Worship

The modern world is full of people who think everything can be had with little or no effort and at a bargain basement price. And that includes religion. The need to contemporize ancient, received forms of  Christian worship comes to mind. Contemporize, it seems to me, is simply a euphemism in many places for ‘discard’ – and that is putting it charitably.

To describe much contemporary worship as an alternative to the traditional liturgies of the church is like describing Andy Warhol as an alternative to Michelangelo, or Cold Play as an alternative to BACH.

When the value of worship is measured at the level of its effect as entertainment or spectacle it loses sight of the fact that what is taking place in worship is not something we manufacture but something that comes to us, that is given and that includes but is not constituted by us.

A worship service of the Church should not be a place where people gather to be coddled in an emotionally comfortable package. It is a place where people come to be encountered by the Living God, to become mindful of God’s presence, to encounter with awe and dismay the real, broken condition of their lives, and with an even greater awe the love and mercy of God that has made them, by sheer grace, members of Jesus Christ.

The humiliating and embarrassing  theatricality of much contemporary worship, and the gimmick addicted clergy who lead these services, cheapen this encounter and, in the end, do not take with Divine seriousness either the people or the Gospel.

It is no wonder so many today find the church to be shallow and unconvincing.


Published by Pastor Mark Anderson

Lutheran pastor, husband, dad, archaeology nut, serious blues guitarist and aspiring luthier.

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