February 23, 2017

Mood Swings

As I took my seat in the church auditorium the room was well lit with an ambiance of warm hues. The backdrop of the stage wall consisted of eight-inch horizontal wood planks from a variety of wood types which gave the room a woodsy, yet modern feel. When the worship service started the lights dimmed and wall-washer spots on the floor turned the wooden planks into purple and blue variegated neon stripes. During the sermon I snapped a photo of the pastor to go along with the article I would later write, but in the picture he faded into the glare. I suspect the lighting was meant to add an emotional connection to the worship service, but it gives me pause to think of the extent churches go to in order to give the Spirit spirit. “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Eph 2:22 NIV).

1 comment:

Steve Corey said...


-----I’ve always been fascinated by how much the meaning of a data set can change as it is moved between different environments. The easiest example of this may not be the clearest, because a person’s appearance is not often thought of as a “data set”. But it is. When an investigator asks a witness for a description of a suspect, he gets a data set: big nose, beady eyes, brown teeth, black hair, etc. Some faces are quite unique, but others blend into a more general average. Many times I’ve failed to recognize in the grocery store such a face with which I was quite familiar -say- in church. I remember one time a gentleman started to talk with me in the check-out line like he knew me, using my name with familiar comfort and everything. I couldn’t figure out who he was by just looking at him, and I wasn’t going to ask him who he was. So when he opened his checkbook to pay, I snuck a peek. Good grief! He was one of my clients! My mind easily processed the data set of his face in my office once a year, but that day in the checkout line - no way.
-----Maybe the people in charge of decorating sanctuaries nowadays are expressly forcing us to get more familiar with the meanings of God’s Word by building neutral environments where its presentation will have to stand on its own. But the undeniable truth is that a room’s décor sets its ambiance. And ambiance is a very real thing. The best demonstration of its reality is seen in situations where success is important. A man does not take his date to a demolition derby for making out. In fact, some sanctuaries I’ve seen might rather serve that purpose. One church has started an alternate worship service in a small room made up very much like a cozy, little cantina. I’ve very much enjoyed both times I’ve attended services there, but I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I was listening to a standup-comic routine where my table and drink had strangely gone missing.
-----I’m sorry, but I take the Word of God very seriously. When Revelation 1:1 says, “The revelation…to show his servants what must soon take place,” it does not mean only “to show us we win.” When the various aspects of those seven churches are viewed within the various aspects of church history, it is hard not to see the prophetic angle of Revelation’s seven letters. -----So it has been difficult for me not to see the Church at Laodicea in the many sanitized “sanctuaries” of the last two decades. I look at stuff like that yipes-striped wall you described, the cute little cantina where I’ve been, some of the really bewildering backdrops Andy Stanley puts up, and the likes of such decor which do not in the least lend any gospel type ambiance to the worship service. Why would one not want Jesus-type décor where one wants to preach Jesus-type themes, sing of His greatness, give thanks for His sacrifice, and pray His continued patience with girlfriend-at-a-demolition-derby type decisions? I don’t get it. Why not set the message in its element? It is almost like we want to be at church without admitting it is church. I hope this attitude does not bleed over into wanting to worship Jesus without admitting He is Jesus.

Love you all,
Steve Corey