In response to my post on the merits and downfalls of rock music or dance music in worship ("Worship: does style matter?"), my friend Ben Porter wrote me an incredibly insightful and helpful email. I wanted to share it with all of you:
I think I understand the thrust of your [post]. I definitely think that idolizing a rock star is just not appropriate in a church setting. However, some of your points lie in a gray area.
Most rock concerts are very different from modern churches, because you don’t just sit there passively. You talk, you sing the lyrics, you dance….The way people just sit and stare is more comparable to watching TV than attending a rock show.
As to the seats and attention that are directed to the stage, that has more to do with the pastor than the music. People’s attention were already directed to a stage focal point before a rock band was very allowed in the church. Even the stage and the lighting in many churches are usually out of practicality. People can’t see the speaker as well if they have to look around other people’s heads. Now, I do agree that the newer ‘rock churches’ are much too close to a rock concert. Lots of the churches are now doing rock concert lighting, and that I don’t agree with, really.
I see what you mean about dance clubs, however many popular dance clubs draw in large crowds by promoting big name DJs. In these clubs, the DJ booth is very visible, often lit, and people generally face the DJ for a lot of the time. Some dance clubs get so packed, there is very little room to dance. (exclude Fort Wayne, of course) I think dance music can be as equally engaging as rock music. There are so many variations of dance that it’s really hard to pin it down. I mean polka music is traditionally dance music, and then there’s booty, and then techno…..
I personally think that both mainstream rock concerts and club scenes have both wandered from their historical roots and have lost a lot of their meaning. Both music and dance have traditionally been social events meant to interact with other humans and pass on the oral and musical traditions to the next generation. Now, they’re a way of getting away from every day life by being bombarded by lights and sound.
I think to change the church’s approach to idolizing pop figures is gonna have to start from the heart. Until then, crank it up, let’s rock 🙂
Well said, BP.