Put down the guitar, slowly back away, and nobody will get hurt . . .
June 15, 2007, 7:45 am
Filed under: Christendom, culture, music

So there are a bunch of people around Seattle buzzing about the cover story in yesterday’s issue of The Stranger. For those of you outside the area, The Stranger is the local alternative newspaper. Check that . . . The Seattle Weekly is the local alternative newspaper, and The Stranger is the alternative to the local alternative newspaper. Anyway, the article is basically 30 staff writers getting sent out to 30 houses of worship on the same weekend, and writing witty, snarky reviews. Some of them are hugely hilarious, some of them are a bit unnecessarily mean spirited, some of them are a waste of time. Personally, it seemed to me that some of them tried too hard to be funny.

Anyway, something I noticed on balance from these pseudo-reviews was the number of digs the writers took at church music. All the churches with a non-hymn format are described as having bad indi-soft-rock cover bands. In one case, the lyrics of the songs are called into question for sounding a heckuva lot like pillow talk (very very funny). With the whole seeker movement a long time ago, church music shifted in the direction of “contemporary” in order to be more welcoming to the unfamiliar nonbeliever. In many cases, churches produced what they thought were pretty solid musical packages. In a few cases, even I thought the music was fairly decent. I’ve lost count of the number of church ads I’ve seen that actually use their hip music as a selling point for the church. Perhaps it’s time to stop . . . people aren’t that impressed. Even with the best musicians, and the purest hearts, it’s just not that great. Sadly, most churches that make an attempt DON’T HAVE the best musicians, even if they have pure hearts . . . and then it’s even worse.

I hope we’ve impressed ourselves with our cool music (of course, it would be better if we’ve honored God with our worshipful attitudes). At least that way someone enjoyed it.


4 Comments so far
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Wow, what an article…and written by the exact people “we” think we’re appealing to.

I pray that the message will be heard. But, I’m picturing the conversation in a few staff meetings, and I’m not optimistic…

He who has ears to hear…

Comment by joelnimmo

Read the reviews. Quite cutting. While I think its interesting to see the responses from those we are trying to win over, I heard loud and clear 1 Corinthians 1:18 from most of the reviews: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” I guess things haven’t changed in 2000 years. The foolish only have a louder voice today.

Comment by Morgan Owen

These writers make some great points and I can agree with a lot of the stuff they say. The thing that stood out for me is also a person pet peeve. There is a big disconnect between what church-people think is “welcoming” vs. the visitors desires to be anonymous.

I don’t think anyone wants to stand up and introduce themself to a group of strangers. Nobody wants to give out their contact information and wearing a “special” nametag is no thrill either.

Comment by Julie VW


Great point! Its difficult to know exactly what to do about making people feel welcome. It really is a tightrope walk. You have to be cautious to not make them feel vulnerable. And yet you need to make them feel as if their presence matters. Actually, it is also a cultural thing. One way may work in the South, but would definitely be a bad idea in the Northwest.
I think all in all, you have to take into consideration the mindset of those who reported. If we are going to worship, then we should have the perspective of what we are doing and why we are doing it. Clearly, those who reported did not attend with this in mind. It was almost much like a review of a play, movie, latest CD, or restaurant. Definitely not a reverent attitude.

Comment by Morgan Owen

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