The "Contemporvant Service" Parody Video - What Can We Learn?
- Friday, May 21, 2010
If you read my blog, you've probably already seen this video put out by North Point Media. It's racked up thousands of views in the past couple weeks for obvious reasons and sparked some lively debate over at Vimeo.com.
Like most viral videos seeking to make a point, this one has its supporters and detractors. Some call it a brilliant parody while others are deeply offended by its supposed slap in the face at churches targeting unbelievers. I tend to side with the first group, and I think there are a few things we can learn from it.
1. It's a good practice, and even humble, to poke fun at ourselves.
If we think that everything we do in our meetings is as sacred an inviolable as Scripture, we're living in unreality. Elements of our meetings that are meaningful to us might seem predictable, insincere, or formulaic to others. If we think about it long enough, we may even start to agree. I appreciate the fact that that folks at North Point are exposing temptations common to many churches today, probably including their own.
2. Every church has a liturgy.
Liturgy refers to the form our public worship takes. Whether that form involves creeds, organs, and bulletins, on the one hand, or extemporaneous prayers, electric guitars, and videos on the other, we lean towards practices that are familiar. The question is not whether or not we have a liturgy, but whether we have a biblical one that includes Scriptural elements, rehearses the gospel (see christ-centered worship by Bryan Chapell), builds up the church, and glorifies God (Acts 2:42; 2 Tim. 4:1-2; Col. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 14:12; 1 Cor. 12:4-7; Rom. 15:5-7; 1 Cor. 10:31).
3. We Christians can be quick to express strong opinions about things we don't fully understand.
I and most of the commenters at Vimeo were unsure of the background or purpose of this video. Some said it was used to introduce a Sunday sermon series at Andy Stanley's church and was also shown at a leaders' conference. But being uncertain of the origin didn't keep some commenters from completely dissing it. Knowing we have incomplete information should surely give us pause before we lash out it against it as another example of Christians bashing each other (see Prov. 18:2). On the other hand, the Internet being what it is, some kind of explanation would have been helpful.
4. Idolatry is alive and well in our church services.
"Contemporvant" worship (and its relatives, near and far) can come dangerously close to bowing down at the altars of coolness, fame, material success, cutting edge technology, and emotional experience. We can appear to be worshiping God while serving our idols (2 Kings 2:33). The video appropriately makes fun of those idols, but where they exist in our churches and our hearts, it's anything but funny. And just to be clear, many of these idols find their way into traditional church services as well. (I posted some thoughts on this topic in a previous series, idolatry on sunday mornings.)
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