Tuesday, 8 November 2011

American Antics

So I know it's been a while since I last blogged, but I have a very good reason this time. I took my very first trip to the states a couple of weeks ago to spend some time with the people I love out in Georgia. It was magical. In fact I very nearly didn't get on the plane to come back. The food was great, the weather was great, the company was great, the entertainment was great. I loved Atlanta, I loved Peachtree City, I loved Dahlonega, I loved Columbus and I loved Butler. And I loved all the people I spent time with in those places. But there was something stopping me. Something that just made it impossible to drop everything and move myself over there forever (other than my husband, of course). I spent just under two weeks in Georgia, which meant I was there for a Sunday. And so I went to church. Well if any of you were ever wondering what church in middle class suburbia, GA is like, here's a video of what I experienced.

I was left somewhat speechless. You see while I was at college we all sat around watching these youtube videos about starbucks church, and worship stars, and laughed at them. But here I was. I walked up and got my coffee and doughnut holes (something I didn't know existed), and was then welcomed and ushered to my seat in the balcony where what was displayed in the video above was executed with precision. The sermon was about the importance of saving our money. An interesting topic, considering Jesus' words about not storing up treasure on earth, and selling all we have to give to the poor. But that's for another day.

What interested me was the impact this style of worship had on the people in the congregation. The feeling was strangely familiar, despite the fact I've always attended small churches with little musical abilities. I couldn't quite put my finger on it at first, but quickly began to realise that this was very similar to every big concert I've seen at the NEC, or the NIA. It was a great performance, a show. People could choose to sing or not, and it would have no affect on the overall effect. Which seemed odd to me, really. I couldn't help but feel like this betrayed the point of worship. I began to wonder why it was necessary to have the bright lights, the staging, the musical trills by the worship leaders. More and more I was reminded of the X Factor. When did worship become a showcase of talent? I understand the need to ensure that we give our best to God, but this didn't feel like that. It felt pre packaged. It felt like there were a lot of egos involved. It felt like an awful lot of money was being spent on stuff that didn't matter.

I dunno. I have no answers. Something about this kind of worship was doing something for these people. But I couldn't shake the feeling that it was the wrong things that were drawing people in. I couldn't shake the feeling that Jesus wouldn't be as impressed with what was going on in that building as some of those people thought he would.

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