I got the book "Emerging Worship" by Dan Kimball a few weeks ago and have been reading through it a bit sporadically. I read his prevous book, "The Emerging Church" and found it interesting. So far, EW has been more a primer on re-thinking how the church does worship and how we, as church leaders particularly, should redirect our efforts towards a more holistic, Spirit-led worship experience and away from the slick, packaged show ideal that dominates right now. A move and an idea I'm all for. The content & style of our Sundary morning worship service (which is obviously the central communal act at virtually every church in the US, much less the world) is largely market-driven. What do the people want? What will they respond to? In this area, I think a delicate balance must be struck. No one is going to come to a church that includes a 4 hour head-standing period as part of its worship experience, but putting too much emphasis on numerical growth can lead to a consumeristic church. One that plays to people's tastes instead of their needs, which means the church mostly becomes a sanitized reflection of the exterior culture.
A guy in my office gave me a copy of an article from the Sep 02 GQ magazine. In it, the author commits himself to entering the Christian sub-culture for a week to see what there is to see. Walter Kirn writes:
"The new Ark, the cultural Ark, built to save the chosen from the Great Media Flood [of secular culture], also has two of
everything, I'm learning. You say you're a Pearl Jam fan? Check out Third Day. They sound just like them...with a slightly different message: Repent! You say you like Grisham and Clancy-style potboilers? Grab a copy of Ted Dekker's Heaven's Wager-same stick-figure characterizations, same preschool prose, just a slightly different message: Repent!...That's the convincing logic of the Ark. If a person is going to waste his life cranking the stereo, clicking the remote, reading paperback pulp and chasing diet fads, he may as well save his soul while he's at it."
The same can equally be true of many seeker-sensitive or Willowcreek type churches. Like a good concert or motivational speaker? Come to Sunday morning service and hear similar songs and an oddly familiar thereapeutic talk with a slightly different message: Repent! Emerging worship is meant to be an antidote to that, and it sounds like it is, but at a certain level its just the same thing with different props. If only a few people come to an emergent worship gathering, what pastor isn't going to start changing elements here and there to make it more appealing to people? If the majority of the regular attenders all say they want to use some old hymns or that they think the incense is too strong - what pastor isn't going listen to that? I honestly think its a very short step from emerging worship to just another form of consumerized Christianity for a new generation. What about emerging worship is timeless or transcendent? What about it draws the individual out of themselves into a direct experience of God? How will it avoid the emotionalism that, in my opinion, plagues modern worship?