Some thoughts on one of America's most common exports - cheesy evangelicalism.
I recently attended an English-speaking Evangelical church while on vacation in Mexico (the location is withheld to protect the guilty). It was the only Protestant church that I could find. I would have gladly attended a Spanish-speaking Reformation church: Presbyterian, Reformed, Lutheran, even old-school Anglican. A good liturgy overcomes language barriers. Unfortunately, in this Mexican town it’s either Catholic or ex-patriot American schmaltz.
The service began with some high-energy praise choruses. As soon as the first note was struck, people were bopping around with plastic smiles on their faces and hands in the air. I am absolutely certain that these people are more spiritual and pious than I am. There is no doubt about that. It is just impossible for me to break into a shiny happy people-type feeling at the drop of a hat. Early on Sunday morning I am not ready to pretend that I’m at a Wham! concert circa 1985. The music at this church was closer to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” than it was to anything in the Psalter.
Of course there was the stereotypical praise band led by a forty-something Carly Simon wannabe. Behind her was the middle-aged but still trying hard to be cool guy. Three teenage girls, a drummer, and a keyboardist rounded out the group. Praise bands remind me of softball-guy – people living out their unfulfilled dreams at the expense of others. Softball-guy has a longsuffering girlfriend/wife who follows him to every game and listens to how his high school coach and/or injury cost him a shot at the bigtime. Praise bands have longsuffering churches that are trying to worship in spite of mediocre musicians imagining that they’re playing Red Rocks while singing 46 verses of each identical Jesus is my Boyfriend song interspersed with “Ohhhh” and “Ahhhh” in between the actual words, all with hands raised. I’ll take the Psalter and an out of tune piano over this stuff any day.
Read the entire post HERE.
* A thoughtful member of COS pointed out to me that this post sounded like I was indicting the music of COS. She was right in that I was not very careful in the post to make that clear. Let me say very clearly: I love and appreciate the hard work and gifts of those who serve in the COS worship ministry. I am blessed because of what they do. This post was intended as a reflection on the broader trends in church music over the last 25 years or so, much of which is not encouraging. Sorry for any confusion.