What do you think . . . tell me, please!
Friday night at Summer Conference is great. After worshiping all week with the same students we form a cool relationship. Tonight I find myself somewhat frustrated with a mentality that some people have (certainly a minority . . . I hope) when it comes to what is appropriate in worship. Austin, the FR intern this summer and I discussed this at length on the ride home. I have never been to a large rock and roll festival like Ozzfest. I HAVE enjoyed my fair share of Aerosmith shows. I take offense that these secular shows are sometimes more fun than our worship services in the (Capital C) Church. Now before you get all huffy and say, “Well quantify “fun” for me!” hear me out. I have over the years at our CIY events held to the rule that church groups should stay in their assigned seating area and not charge the front of the stage during worship. For the focus of the week this can cause distraction and hurdles to what we are trying to accomplish on a larger level. In general I also believe it is more effective for students to stay in their assigned seating area where they can worship together as a group and be with their youth coaches. Our events are about community. Another reason I discourage students from coming up to the front of the stage is we incorporate activities in the middle of our worship services to help focus the students on the night’s theme. Many of these require the students to go through reflective action steps or craft type projects. We utilize the front of the stage for this many times. However, the venue we happened to be playing in tonight is an arena on Southern Illinois Universities campus. We have tons of space in the back and up front for students to be expressive during worship. I tend to be a bit more laxed as a week of conference progresses. Feeling that the teaching of the Word and the Holy Spirit’s moving during the week changes the countenance of an entire assembly there doesn’t seem to be much danger for the focus to be hurt. I am generalizing here. The reality of the situation I found myself in tonight was that God had been moving all week and many students had life changing experiences. These young men and women, with their youth coaches, wanted a time to shout it from the mountain tops. They wanted to celebrate freedom in Christ. I felt this all day coming on me as walked around campus and listened to stories from each group about the victories they wanted to celebrate tonight. I have led worship at large events for quite some time in my life now. Earlier on as a worship band and leader I took hits on being to “showy” at times. Over the years, as I have built relationships and more clearly defined my philosophy of worship leadership these comments have dissipated. I’m also more confident that I understand the responsibility to educate students about appropriate worship in the assembly. Realizing that I need to take the entire group at the same time and not allow certain fractions to overtake the majority with their own agenda I am constantly evaluating what is proper. So why not let students come down on the last night and let loose for a few songs. The reality is that a ticket to a good music festival could be around 50 bucks. A registration to Summer Conference is about 200 bucks.
Tonight I may be angry at every bitty lady I’ve ever seen telling kids not to run in church. That hurts my heart. I had a conversation with an individual tonight backstage about this. Their comment was that such behavior was interrupting their personal worship. Yeah, I am angry tonight. Sure, we are well intentioned when we teach students to be respectful of others around them. That school of thought when applied here is dangerous. It trickles down and boxes God up. As a rule, our tech staff takes beach balls from students during worship because they might distract someone or break some equipment. I think we should be the ones passing them out. It looks like fun to me. Have you ever heard of a serious beach ball accident during worship? Let me know. For the Gospel we preach to harmonize with world we live in we must allow it to be responded to, with the fullest range of emotions in our corporate settings. Sure I had some problems tonight with a few boys who started jumping into each other instead of up and down. I also had one little girl who started crowd surfing. She could have been dropped and hurt bad. As it should be, there were plenty of youth leaders in their midst to redirect these small pockets to a safer form of expression. Should we stop it completely because that type of thing might break out. I have never crowd surfed before in my life. I want to some day. SHAME if I have to go to Ozzfest to do it. If we really are living together in true unity then we will have all the moments to share in together that the body might need. We will have a time to cry and be still TOGETHER. We will have a time to Repent TOGETHER. There should also be a time to let loose TOGETHER. Stop OLD BITTY CHURCH LADY THINKING. It stagnates the joy inside our hearts. This Sunday run in church. Get all the kids to run and laugh.