Saturday, December 6, 2008

#3 Contemporary Worship

White Christians have always found things to argue over, from Copernicus' heliocentric cosmology to Martin Luther's 95 theses. However, few things have divided white Christians like contemporary worship. The meaning of contemporary worship is constantly evolving; depending on the white church it could mean using the gray hymnal instead of the blue hymnal, using a projector for song lyrics, or (horror of horrors) a praise band complete with drums and electric guitars.

The white churches that survive this controversy intact always decide to have two separate services: a "traditional" service far too early in the morning where guitars and drums are forbidden and a "contemporary service" so late in the day as to conflict with watching football where choirs, organs, hymns and hearing yourself sing are forbidden.

The "contemporary" service, having been purged of everyone over the age of 65, allows for singing more upbeat praise songs. These songs will often refer to dancing, but never fear, absolutely no dancing ever occurs at white Christian churches. During an especially upbeat song, white Christians may begin to clap to the beat, but usually become confused as to whether to continue clapping through the chorus and give up on the clapping altogether. Expert-level white Christians will continue clapping until the end of the song, but they prefer to lift their hands in the air.

11 comments:

marcusaurelius said...

Guitars and drums are of the devil, and contemporary worship is way too emotional for the decent white christian.

It's funny, too, when a "traditional" white church does an older gospel (black) choir anthem. There's always some tangible awkwardness.

Luther Zwingli said...

Tangible awkwardness is a great way to put it. I also like the fact that when gospel music meets white choir, there seem to be two types of white choir Christians: those who are meticulously counting with the beat in a robotic manner so as to attempt to "feel the music," and those who legitimately sway with the music and would clap and dance with the beat if you would let them. This second type of white choir Christian should be monitored carefully.

Both types, however, absolutely love the gospel song that they are signing, and the congregation, upon hearing the song, might actually clap as a response to the gospel song- something typically forbidden in response to choir anthems.

Kyle Hommes said...

I think you need to get edgier.

Abraham Calvin said...

Edgier how? We aren't afraid to offend, but we aren't trying to either. My goal (I won't speak for Luther) is not to ridicule the white Christian community that I am a part of, but to poke fun of our little idiosyncrasies and maybe to prod a little on things I'd like to change through humor. Anything you would have added to the post?

suz said...

this is spot on for white evangelical churches. I'm finding that the "contemporary" service includes mostly praise music composed in 1974-1980...in other words, a generation ago. also, you didn't mention it, but how about hearing a white choir sing "we shall overcome" for the Sunday morning anthem, complete with awkward swaying. white people love to throw in a little "gospel" in the midst of their privileged worship.

I'd be interested to read a post about sermons, Numa/Rob Bell fascination/idolotry, the use of powerpoint. keep up the creative work!

Abraham Calvin said...

Thanks, Susan. We're giving Rob Bell a break for now, but we'll get to him. Did you ever see this video?

We've learned from the comments on the video that a lot of people don't have a sense of humor when it comes to Rob Bell.

Kyle Hommes said...

Edgy like, white christians like helping poor people who live in other countries, white christians like living in the suburbs, white christians like helping the one minority in their congregation, white christians like other republicans, white christians like plastering christian propaganda on their cars, or white christians like imposing their views on others. That might lead to a little controversy, but it is both humorous and truthful.

thepm said...

The last paragraph is so true!

gabi said...

one time a few years ago, my church did a truely horrendous rendition of "blessed be your name". square 40-something white people trying to be hip...my dad said it made him think of bono (of U2) mockingly doing the twist in the "still haven't found what i'm looking for" video.

Rob Pearce said...

Absolutely beautiful. The contemporary worship service at my traditional church still has "unwanted stepchild" status after 10 years.

You didn't mention my absolute favorite white Christian quirk during contemporary worship - the practice of clapping on beats 1 and 3, instead of 2 & 4. I play keyboard, and fight the temptation to add a 5/4 measure into a phrase to fix things. I think they would just shift back anyway.

Rob Pearce
www.worshipbasics.com

Joel Webley said...

Clapping on 1 and 3. Classic white folks- reminds me of george bush trying to play those African drums and dance.