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Discussion Forum : General Topics : Going in to darkness

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Sidewalk
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Joined: 2011/11/11
Posts: 705
San Diego

 Going in to darkness

Has anyone else noticed how modern (American, anyway) churches are being either built or renovated into these ultra dark venues?

All the light is focused on the performers while the people warm their pews in so much darkness you have a hard time criticizing other people's attire. You can't see them.

Seems like church used to be a place of fellowship, now it's just the Big Sunday Show.

"Up here! Pay attention up here!"

No need to bring a Bible, everything you need to see is up on the big screen.


Hmmmmm. Isn't there something in Scripture about the kingdom of darkness? I guess men do love darkness. Easier to check their Ashley Madison accounts if no one is looking.


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Tom Cameron

 2015/9/1 20:58Profile
davidkeel
Member



Joined: 2006/5/11
Posts: 409
West Sussex, England

 Re: Going in to darkness

Looks like we spoke about it here as well . It seems to be happening more and more :

http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=54130&post_id=376314&order=0&viewmode=flat&pid=0&forum=48#376314


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David Keel

 2015/9/2 4:25Profile
TMK
Member



Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5346
NC, USA

 Re:

Tom- what is the difference if you read the bible during a church service in s paper book, a smartphone (that's what I do) an iPad or following the verses on the screen?

If the verse is on the screen, at least people have to read it unless they avert the eyes.

Churches that use screens to project song lyrics etc dim the lights because it is easier to see the screen.

I haven't been in a church in a good long while that doesn't dim the lights somewhat during worship.

I think you are reading way more into this. Let's face it, in the great great majority of churches the action IS up front. I bet this was even true in Tozers and Spurgeons churches.


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Todd

 2015/9/2 7:28Profile
dolfan
Member



Joined: 2011/8/23
Posts: 1632
Alabama

 Re:

The black walled staging is a recent (within 20 years) trend. They were used in bars and nightclubs forever ago to accommodate stage lighting for music acts. The church simply co-opted a lot of that venue's ways.

Unmistakably, these outer forms and structures communicate something. Where the church in the west for the last 150 years has basically been "all up front", it increasingly communicated that God speaks from the pulpit, that the pulpit is where the spiritual action is happening. Instead of being merely a platform, the stage soon enough became the center of attention, and whoever occupied it was the one basking in it. The stage -- consciously, I submit -- became a reason for something from the audience and not a tool to deliver something to the audience.

With the advance of "praise and worship", so called, and hipster preachers from 22 to 82, an array of equipment and advanced staging has come with it. It brings its own inherent message: "look at us", "this is what matters", "follow us", "value this". The "us" and "this" is the performance package and the performers. We are now, as never before, expressly encouraged and invited to attend and participate in church based on the quality of that package. This is a basis for being together and being there at all that is wholly separate from the Gospel itself, wholly distinct from the life in Christ.

I can tell you first hand that being a participant in this from the pew, participating FOR the stage, is now a measurement of a new kind of discipleship that values almost exclusively the feedback from the audience. Not much else matters. That feedback is raised hands, emotional angst and expression as an end unto itself, and putting money in the offering plate or bag or card swiper. In short, the venue and its events (music, singing concert style, and rally/motivation/psychology as preaching) have become the reason for the church in America. And, where that is not so, churches are either repenting of it or dying from the inability to adapt to it.

If you will pardon the analogy, especially non-Americans and non southern U.S. folks who read this, we have arrived at the age of the church version of college football's spread, hurry up no huddle offense. It is fast paced, gadgety, gimmicky, and all the rage, and you either adapt to it or wind up in the Music City Bowl. But, what you dare not do is fold your arms and say "that is NOT football." Unless, of course, you are a football purist who is willing to walk away from this new game because it bears only the faintest resemblance to football. And, as a self proclaimed purist, it ain't football. And, I want no part of it.



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Tim

 2015/9/2 9:04Profile
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Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5346
NC, USA

 Re:

I think we have to be careful about ascribing evil intent or motives to churches like you describe.

Coaches that use the no huddle offense are just taking advantage of the enemy's weakness.

I think a huge motive behind the packaging you describe is to get people in church who would otherwise be sitting on their rumps at home. Some (many) of those folks really get saved.

We can argue about whether the packaging is the right way to go about it but it seems to work, and I don't think there is evil intent behind it.

I would much rather have unsaved friends and loved ones attend a church they like than not attend a church they don't like.


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Todd

 2015/9/2 10:05Profile
yuehan
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Joined: 2011/6/15
Posts: 510


 Re: Going in to darkness

Come on, let's not judge according to appearances.

This should not be an issue anyway because the church is not a building or a venue, but the body of Christ. This distinction is made very clear by Paul in Romans 16:5 - "...greet the church that is in their house."

If it happens to be a dark venue, let's hope that makes the light of Christ shine even brighter ;)

 2015/9/2 11:12Profile
Sidewalk
Member



Joined: 2011/11/11
Posts: 705
San Diego

 Re:

I think it is less evil intent, more love of power and attention. Thank you Tim for that eloquent response, I too see the dark thing as a departure from the appeal to mutual fellowship and learning to walk together in Christ to that physically exciting interaction between an audience and a performer.

I preach fairly often, my "audience" is a group of about 60 handicapped adults and a scattering of volunteers and care-givers. I need light in there, to watch the reactions of individuals, to let them see each other, to facilitate the interactivity that preaching to mentally handicapped people requires- it takes the whole group to get through a message!

In all of it, the light is important as they learn to speak and love each other, often rising to their feet to go and give someone on the other side of the room an encouraging hug. And some have trouble walking!


Yes it is different from regular church, but it wouldn't work in a dark venue.

I like light.


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Tom Cameron

 2015/9/2 11:17Profile
yuehan
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Joined: 2011/6/15
Posts: 510


 Re:

Quote:
I think it is less evil intent, more love of power and attention.


On what basis do you level this accusation against all preachers at such venues? Have you read their minds?

Leave it to God search the heart and test the mind, who will reward each man according to his deeds (Jer 17:10).

As an aside, some of the loveless / unsettling experiences I've had were at gothic buildings or bright venues. God honours those who honour Him, not the building where people gather.

 2015/9/2 11:48Profile
dolfan
Member



Joined: 2011/8/23
Posts: 1632
Alabama

 Re:

Quote:
I think we have to be careful about ascribing evil intent or motives to churches like you describe.

Coaches that use the no huddle offense are just taking advantage of the enemy's weakness.

I think a huge motive behind the packaging you describe is to get people in church who would otherwise be sitting on their rumps at home. Some (many) of those folks really get saved.

We can argue about whether the packaging is the right way to go about it but it seems to work, and I don't think there is evil intent behind it.

I would much rather have unsaved friends and loved ones attend a church they like than not attend a church they don't like.



I want to be careful, too. I'm sick of armchair QB'ing the church (to keep with our football analogy for now), and I'm guilty. You can simply rage at the darkness or be a light to those who are in it. I'm praying for the prophetic gift to come alive in the church to lovingly and sternly warn the church.

I have a degree in communications. The writings of Neil Postman and the thoughts of Marshall McLuhan (who coined the famous phrase, "the medium is the message") and of men like Malcolm Muggeridge have been aimed in the last 50 years toward describing this thing we now see. (I recommend Postman's "Amusing Ourselves To Death" and "Technopoly".) I want to admit my bias here, and explain that I am not condemning anyone with "evil intent or motives". I do not contend that anyone is intentionally setting out to do what they see as evil. I do contend that what they are doing is a kind of evil.

When I say that there has been a conscious effort to move the church to this "look to the stage, this is where God is happening" way of being, I am speaking of it as a communicative technology. The church's way of expressing itself IS its own message, and it simply is not the gospel of Jesus. It competes with the gospel. It serves, practically, to oppose the gospel. It creates a different kind of "hearer", and by extension, a different kind of "doer" than that which Jesus is calling and empowering and sending forth. That is the "evil" I contend occurs, and while evil is not the overt motive for these actions, it is deliberate action and evil the covert effect.

You say, "a huge motive behind the packaging you describe is to get people in church." But, the "in church" part of that outweighs the motive. The packaging has become the church; and, the packaging has become the content of another gospel and the substance of what it means to be part of a church. The packaging is more than a mailer to pique interest; it is a full on way of being that is the model of Christian living, and it is centered on what happens in these buildings during an hour or two of singing, performing and public speaking.

That "some (many) of those folks really get saved" is the end justifying the means. Let's assume that this statement (many are saved) is true. Are the lives of those saved then modeled into Christ in these fellowships? If American churches are successfully modeling and leading people to Christ-like living, the fruit of it is sorely lacking. To the extent that many of those folks really get saved, this way of being the church is manifestly working against their further maturity in Christ, against their further glorifying God day to day. It is a hard case to make to them, though, since they tend to enjoy the way it is to their own detriment.

I simply do not see that "attend a church they like" is a lesser evil to "not attending a church they don't like" if the process of both is not bearing fruit to the glory of God in actual human lives that are being transformed into the image and likeness of Jesus. I respectfully think we may have very different understandings of what it means to say "it seems to work".

This is precisely why the problem is pernicious. It is not well understood when people with facially right motives take real action to move people from "rumps at home" to church are held to a scrutiny of the ways in which they communicate a message. People tend to think that the means of communication are value-neutral and that is simply not true. The means of communication -- the medium of communication, that is -- comes loaded with its own values that can taint or change the pure gospel and the full out-living of the pure gospel.

The early church was conscious of this. Judaism itself was word based, not image based. Words as media have vastly different values than images. From early on, "I AM" has not shown Himself in images, and has made the knowledge of Himself through images anathema. God presented Himself as a God of words to the prophets, and in the fullness of time came in the fullness of human flesh as the Living Word. John's writings go overboard in making this clear about Jesus as the Word.

The church today presents the gospel as image. The church package is the image of the gospel. The church package is therefore the substance of the gospel. This is subtle and largely unnoticed to "the church", but not to those who know God as Word and are shaped by Him as the Word Alive. The life of those who know God, who know the gospel, as "Word Alive" is vastly different from those who know the gospel as the packaged content of the contemporary American church (in Australia at least, too). The fruit of those who know God as Word Alive is different from those who know Him as the content packaged in an image at church services. The church that knows God as the Word who is alive empowers itself among its members with a deeper, abiding internalization of the Word and presents a Word based proposition to the lost. The church that knows God as an image, even an image that has "saved" them, empowers itself by coming to the scene of an event (a church service) and needing an external affirmation of the continuing truth (that the image of God as seen and experienced through the church service package still 'works' this week) and presents the quality of the image and the interaction with this image to the lost. These are not differing qualities; these are differing kinds of being. And, I submit to you that the latter is evil even if it doesn't "intend to be", per se.

Going back once more and more deeply to the football analogy, it is a different game. It uses footballs and helmets (or, crosses and bibles), it uses bleachers (or, pews or chairs), it blows whistles and calls plays (or, uses the lingo and jargon of the faith). It calls itself college football, and a lot of money is staked on people buying it as college football. But, it isn't football. It is a different game (a different gospel), and you can see the impact it has on what still is real football in the NFL (or, the church that knows God as the Word Alive) because almost nobody knows how to play real football when they arrive in the NFL (or, nobody knows how to model biblical Christ-likeness to each other or demonstrate it to the lost) and they either are slow to develop (or, they will hopefully come around to the truth one day) or the overall game (faith) is suffering through a change from what it was to what it will be --- which is something very different in kind (not biblical).


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Tim

 2015/9/2 11:55Profile
TMK
Member



Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5346
NC, USA

 Re:

I guess I am not sure what you mean when you say it's a different gospel.

I attend a large multi site church and I admit that it is not my preferred "venue."

But the reason we keep attending is because the gospel IS preached and people ARE getting saved and baptized. Our pastor is not afraid to say convicting hard truths. Last week he repeated three times: "any sexual activity that is outside marriage between a man and a woman is sin." This was in the context of his preaching on the letter to Thyatira.

Now I realize there are Joel Osteen-y preachers out there who are sickening in their sweetness.

Granted it is hard for a lot of deep fellowship in a typical church service setting but that is what life groups are for. About 75% of the attendees at our church belong to a life group, which generally meet weekly.

My church is not perfect and I do complain about many of the things you mention. But we are serving in ministries and see the God-honoring things that go on.


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Todd

 2015/9/2 12:54Profile





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