Red Bull Have you ever tried a so-called “energy drink?”  A few years ago when guest conducting for a youth music camp I heard the announcement that energy drinks were not allowed.  Having never had one personally I inquired about the offense?  As a regular coffee drinker of many years I could not imagine the potency of these drinks.  A few weeks later a friend handed me a Red Bull, which I sipped awhile.  Initially I thought the drink paled in comparison to my morning cup of coffee, but by the time I got to the bottom of the can my friend laughed as he noticed I was talking faster, and was even enacting some comedy routines. I then noticed my hands had become jittery. Wooo!  I was ready to do something, anything.  The energy buzz was short lived, but I sure would not want to down one of those just before bedtime.  I have since had a doctor tell me the boost is somewhat artificial, and for a guy like me who has heart issues it is probably not a wise choice of refreshment.  No problem, Doc.  I didn’t like the taste much anyway.  Starbucks, you’re still my addiction.

Tools available to today’s worship leaders offer numerous technological and musical means by which external stimulants can be administered.  From pre-service soundtracks to video countdowns that lead participants to a “10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 -4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – LET’S WORSHIP!!!” approach, there is no doubt that it is possible to hike up the adrenaline of those gathered in church worship centers and other venues these days.  Those who fancy themselves sort of worship environment engineers know well that the ambiance emulates the entertainment environment.  Thoughtful worship leaders and media folks who operate in these settings purposefully connect the worship environment with the popular music concert, or other entertainment world scene.  This is not an indictment.  To the contrary, the stated motivation is almost always a desire to speak to the context of today’s culture.  Many would describe the worship with words like “relevant, “ and “missional.”  While we would applaud the mission-driven motive, we would also caution against losing an appreciation of heritage, downplaying the value of legacy, and misrepresenting rich tradition as rote traditionalism.  Indeed, the authentic genuineness so many seek in our day is inherent in historic liturgical patterns that beg our attention and inclusion.  It seems crucial that we remember that “con-temporary” means “with temporary.”  By its self-description, contemporary is tentative.  The relevancy issue is often much more about lack of creativity in the practitioner’s approach, or ignorance to the significance of historic forms than it is about true connectivity to present day culture.  I am often reminded of this when attending a symphony concert, or an art museum where a historic artist’s works are on display.   The need of the observer is to be aided in their understanding of what is to them mystery.  Likewise in gathered worship this is often the case.  Present day people often desire a connection to the richness of past forms, but need help comprehending its meaning and significance.  One of our jobs in worship leadership.

The “pump up the crowd” approach is really nothing new.  I remember traveling to a large city with a fellow music minister in the early 1980’s for a conference.  We arrived a day early in order to attend a mega church’s announced special service of musical praise.  The large choir and orchestra were hallmarks of the mega churches of the day.  We sat in the front row of the balcony.  About halfway through the service I felt as though I might just jump over the balcony as one song after another followed the same pattern in which the choir and orchestra built to a big crescendo ending, or led us to a clap-in-rhythm routine that was reminiscent of patriotic tune treatments.  While the presentation was of high quality, the sense of manipulative effect was thinly veiled.  Granted, the “average Joe” likely gave little thought to such matters, and instead just sensed the adrenaline rush per design, I think that may be precisely the point.  The question for us may need to be, “To what end is our environment leading?”  Of like importance is a study of how we arrived where we find ourselves in our common practices.  This may help us more clearly evaluate the effect of how we practice worship.

Given the evangelical church worship environment, we likely have evolved from our predecessors who served in preacher – singer teams with famous revivalists or evangelists.  We may consider ourselves in the lineage of Ira Sankey, the gospel singer for Dwight L. Moody, Homer Rhodehever, who was paired with Billy Sunday, or Bev Shea or Cliff Barrows, part of the Billy Graham Association.  These gospel music giants related musically and socially to their day.  A significant difference has to do with what “their day” included in terms of group participation.  Whereas people vocally participated in the ministry functions of each of these, given the contemporary culture of their day, we find the connection of our day to be one of passivity, even a kind of active non-participation.  This sort of non-participatory expectation can set up a dependency on external stimulation.

I would strongly encourage faithful honest evaluation of that which takes place in the church’s gathered worship environment.  Pastors and Worship Musicians must surely prayerfully consider whether they are providing an atmosphere conducive to participative community worship.  I trust that in our hearts we do not just desire to provide a kind of “Red Bull” hype.  My experience is that these may feel good for the moment, but tend to be short lived (and can make you jittery).

Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church keyboard players, Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

3 Comments on “RED BULL WORSHIP”

  1. […] Tune My Heart to Sing Thy Grace « RED BULL WORSHIP […]

  2. Tommi Says:

    You will need a microphone a wecbam and a recording software I use a blue snowball USB microphone, I use to use a Logitech wecbam,(20-100 dollars) now I use my wecbam on my iMac and I use to use windows movie maker to record, but I use I movie on my Mac now . Good luck!crazyyy alwayzz

  3. accutane Says:

    I told my kids we’d play after I found what I needed. Damnit.

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