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September 15, 2005



After a church experience on the weekend I got to thinking about where this type of consumerism could go and wrote a piece a couple of days ago. After seeing your link today to the new madness at Saddleback I decided to blog it (http://www.rayneronline.com/blog) since I now - sadly - realize that it wasn't as extreme as I had thought...


Dave Walker

Thanks Greg for this. First of all about your church. Yes, I had realised about the 'rock and roll service' not being what it really was, but there are (as you said I think) worse ways to be described. It helps to hear a bit about how your new service came into being and the background to the fact there are the other activities going on at the same time. Anyway, I wish you well with it.

About Saddleback. It's obviously a church that you know a great deal more about than I do. If what you say is correct then I can see why you view it the way you do. I'll have to reserve judgement to a certain extent as there's obviously more going on with the whole 'seeker' thing than I've heard about. Over here Rick Warren is not such a household name, at least not in the circles I move in. I think I might have had the youth ministry version of his book at one point but it was starting in a very different place culturally to where I was and so I just looked at the pictures.


Good post Greg.

While I disagree with the divisive, worship=music=entertainment philosophy that Saddleback’s new flavours of service encourage, I also urge your readers to err on the side of caution with their criticism and idealism.

We are all humans with our own tastes and traditions. Music is a wonderful gift but the fact that it is so synonymous with the worship of God throws up more and more issues in this culturally and sonically diverse world. Music has a lot to do with worship in the real world despite how we might want to segregate it theologically in order to sidestep muddying its theory: Music can focus the mind on the spiritual, it can tug at our souls inspiring a very real response to the love of God. Furthermore it can reduce great truth and complexities into palatable and memorable phrases and melodies that ultimately flavour us to be like Jesus.

Of course, where things get awkward is when we marry music, a subjective multi-sided gift from God, with worship, an objective one dimensional command from God. To me the idea of going to a Country music themed service is repulsive: it’s a million miles from the culture in which I live and relate to. However, I know that my call to objectively worship God is far higher than any subjective objections I may have over the style of service.

That said, we all attend churches that cater to our tastes: be it emphasising aspects of Gospel living that we applaud, or downplaying elements that sit less easy with our characters. You yourself said: “[we’ve been] enduring ridiculous amounts of traditional music and traditionally-arranged worship choruses for the sake of community and the best, most theologically sound preaching I've ever heard.”

So for you, the trade for ‘enduring’ one particular style of worship music was that you could get theologically sound preaching. Surely, within the idealism everyone is proposing in their comments on Saddleback, you should have ‘endured’ the musical style because your higher command is to worship God in spirit and in truth, no matter what the vehicle your Church provides to help you there.

As in any area of life, all of us find things that stylistically push us into committing to a certain church community. Of course the idea of consumerist menu style services is disgusting but are we really all so pure in separating our tastes from our kingdom responsibilities? I’m just saying everyone should bear this in mind before casting the first stone at what is essentially a very easy target in Saddleback.

Hmm, does that make any sense?


Come on Greg, get back from the edge.

You don't like what they are doing, fine. Calling the Saddleback folks "a bunch of crackers who don't seem to understand that worship isn't about entertainment" is going to far.

Have you been to these services? Talked to these folks? Examined the fruit of their lives, their lived out discipleship in detail and found them lacking? Disagreeing with Saddleback's "video venue" strategy is legitimate. But this kind of blanket condemnation of people has got no place in the kingdom.

Plus it's beneath you--as a Christian and as a theological thinker.

I've got to much time to worry about my own sin, and wearing sackcloth and ashes to point fingers at other people.

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