Friday, December 15, 2006
Excitement Versus Manipulation: A Struggle for Us All
Yet, I do not like boring services. I enjoy all the arts (except musicals, country western music, and rap - I suppose I would have throw a few things like macrame, or needlepoint in there as well, but these other things are more tolerable to me.) I think the arts should have their place in the presentation of the truth, and more specifically the Gospel. I do believe that worship should be expressive. Dance is acceptable to me - even if the person simply does one of those weird leg kickin' hops that looks like a mix between an ugly chorus line, and a clumsy Rabbi. I like hands in the air, and clapping is cool with me. If someone shouts in a worship time I'm down with that, or should we use a more sanctified prepositional phrase like "up with that?" Sometimes I think churches get the people excited so that the leaders look good, and feel good about themselves.
I enjoy open format services, in which beaucoup de interaction occurs. I tell people they can interrupt my sermons for questions, or pertinent additions to the topic, and this happens with some frequency. I like the idea of everyone coming together to participate in a worship experience. Yet I realize that a spontaneous experience will probably only allow a limited number of the people to participate, because there are only a few who are comfortable doing something unprepared.
So I am back to preparing a service which is not boring.
My challenge is this: What is the line between arranging a creative worship experience, and manipulating people to do what I THINK is healthy for their corporate worship experience? What is the dividing line between what I want, and what God wants for them? I worry about this more for myself than for others, because I know God honors simple faith.
The Pensacola revival invited the press to visit and evaluate their actions - bad move. They were typical in their organized orchestration, andmanipulation of what appeared to be revival from the very beginning. See this article from 1997.
Now I am not convinced that this or the many other articles prove that nothing really happened in Brownsville Assembly of God, but I am convinced that it wasn't God alone working. I don't want to be the manipulator of people, and whether we are Pentecostals, or Reformed theologians, or emergent I think we still walk a fine line between being relevant and being manipulative.
So when I see manipulation I wonder who's fire are we starting, and what is it consuming?