Rock ‘n Roll in the House of God

Today’s New York Times has an interesting article (“Plugging In to Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord“) and accompanying video about the use of rock music and bands in churches. Such churches “now provide one of the major ways that Americans hear live music.”

churchspan2 Tom Mercer, who pastors High Desert Church, the church the article focuses on, explains their philosophy:

When you start a church, you don’t decide who you’re going to reach and then pick a music style. You pick a music style, and that determines who’s going to come.

High Desert Church’s music pastor is Jeff Crandall who once toured with a punk band called the Altar Boys. During his time with the group he fought “the battle for a more progressive and aggressive worship music.”

The church has a number of different bands geared toward various age groups. “Each band carefully calibrates its sound toward the pop culture disposition of the target age group.”

An interview with one church member relates why he attends the particular group he chose:

‘I started out in Harbor, but I moved to Seven because I liked the music more,’ said Tony Cherco, 32, a recent arrival to the church who would not have been out of place in the East Village: he wore a long beard and large rings in his earlobes. ‘Between Pastor Tom and the music of Seven, I was like, yes!”‘

What about the kids?

For the children, in both their Sunday school classes and youth group events, the music is pop-punk. The idea is to keep their attention with high energy, then to slide gradually toward contemplation.

My favorite quote was near the end of the article:

God can enjoy a distorted guitar as well as a clean guitar.

In the video Crandall defends entertaining people: we live in a world filled with entertainment, so we must communicate the gospel in a way that is entertaining. While the lights and music are not as important as the gospel, without them it is hard to communicate it.

Cool, dude. Praise the Lord and turn up the volume. (Tongue is firmly in cheek, in case any reader thinks I have any agreement with the above, which I do not.)

One comment

  1. Interestingly, an individual (who wished to remain anonymous both in identity and email) left a comment taking me to task for what at the time was my closing statement: “Cool dude…” He/she maintained that given who I am I should have showed more discernment.

    If I did agree with the pastor’s/church’s ministry philosophy, I would whole-heartedly agree with the anonymous individual’s response. However, I do not agree with it, so let me make it clear: The kind of ministry philosophy propounded in the NYT article is in my mind clearly unbiblical.

    Reading my post, I did see how I didn’t provide my thousands of readers (that too, was sarcasm) with my assessment of the article. My bad, and I do appreciate the anonymous commenter’s effort to point this out. I wish he/she would have left me some way to address him/her personally, however, to let him/her know that such is definitely not the case. I’ve updated my Commenting page to reflect this need.

    Thus, I added the closing parenthetical comment to the post. Hopefully that will do the job.

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