Mega Church Worship: Entertainment or Holy Space?

    As I put on my headphones and focused the camera I was operating this Saturday at church, I quietly began to ponder the role of worship.  In the highly produced mega-church worship service I attend each week, I often become swept away in the thundering bass, the fancy guitar rifts, the flashing lights and the puffing smoke machine. This particular Saturday, as I pondered what worship really was, and whether I was helping to create a holy environment for people who came to worship or simply producing a superficial, mediated form of entertainment, I stopped to talk with the worship pastor.  I asked him a question that has been nagging me for a long time: what was the difference between a show and a worship service?  He had a couple of excellent insights.
    First of all, he called himself the caretaker of the church’s theology.  According to his perspective, the words that people sing in the worship songs are actually more meaningful and real than the words that are crafted by a theology committee and put under the mission statement on the church’s website. The songs are much more than catchy little melodies.  They often form and articulate the longing of our hearts. It is up to the worship leader to choose songs that help form these longings into a systematic approach to how we communicate with God and who we are in His sight. It helps guide our emotions in a way that helps us interpret what we are feeling and what we should do about it. My worship leader takes this role very seriously. It makes him more than an entertainer; it makes him a guardian of theology and an interpreter of God’s stirring.
    Second, my worship leader commented on the production aspect of the mega church. Can we actually meet God when there is so much technology that is part of the mix?  Absolutely.  God meets us in lots of ways.  It might be in a small church with people who don’t even sing that well, it might be in a mighty cathedral with stained glass, and it might be on a bench in the middle of a park on a sunny day.  God meets us wherever we turn our face towards him. For me, I have found that sometimes the noise of my thoughts and emotions gets pretty loud and it takes standing in a darkened sanctuary with smoke filtering through the flashing lights and the worship band singing beautiful songs for my heart to be focused.  It is in that space, in that mega church, that I can quietly and humbly approach my King.  And for helping me create and enjoy that space, I thank you worship leaders.  Job. Well. Done.

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