Church, Manchester, Faith, Punk

Archive for July, 2010

Worship with The Beastie Boys

So I wrote the other day about God Gigs. That is a secular gig where you just worship God. I remember friends of mine telling me how they would worship while clubbing and I can remember a number of gigs where I decided to worship God because I was having such a good time already. One particular Beastie Boy gig sticks out in my memory.

Anyways, the venerable Simple Pastor asked a good question –

What at a Beastie Boys concert was directing you to God?

The Beastie Boys are not Christians. In fact I am fairly sure they are Buddhists. So they are not your conventional Worship leaders. But the music is incredible, and he atmosphere created has the feeling of a large community event.

So what at a Beastie Boys concert directed me towards God? Well, I love the music. It gives me chills when played at volume. So I guess I just decide that I am going to praise God. Simple really. I am sure I could do this at any music event (apart from at a Jonas Brothers gig, then  I would probably be crying out for the end of the world, some sort of rapture or maybe just plague of frogs…).

To be honest I applied the same principle at a recent Christian Conference. This time the music was a little outside of my taste (like Rio is just outside of Manchester) so I just decided to worship.

The problem with the argument about worship music is that so much gets discounted on account of personal taste. Usually the taste of the Church leaders.


God Gigs

I check in regularly with the relevant magazine website, I like how it looks and I like what they write about.

This is a cracking article about how sometimes secular music can give us an opportunity to worship.

It reminded me of a couple of gigs I have been to where I just felt like I could worship God. Its hard to explain why this sometimes happens but here are a few “God Gigs” –

  • The Beastie Boys at the NEC in 1999. A gig in the round and the whole place pumped. For some reason I could worship easily.
  • Pendulum – Reading 2008. The whole crowd connected with the band and it felt like a community event
  • Snuff – London 1993-1995. I have no idea how many times I saw this band, but every time I saw them the crowd new every word and every action (that’s right, punk music with actions! It made Evan Rogers look bored and disaffected)

I have no reason to tell you that, and it aint very interesting but in the light of some of my recent posts about the poor state of worship music in the UK I thought I should write something positive.

For your watching pleasure –

What Worship leaders should listen to

Simple really. Whatever your congregation listen to and whatever the people of your city/town/village are listening to.

Worship music that comes out of the church community is a wonderful thing. Matt Blick is trying to promote a few song writers based in local Newfrontiers churches which is fantastic. My point being, songs should come out of the community and reflect the community.

Lets take CCM:City as an example. We are based right in the middle of student land, 100 yards below the curry mile, and a short bus ride from the centre of Manchester. So far we are largely made up of single 17 – 30 year olds. The music that these guys listen to and identify with is going to have a certain vibe!

However at CCM:East we have families, kids, teenagers, older people, and people from different continents so the vibe there will be something else entirely. Neither will be better than the other. I know which one I prefer but that is purely down to musical taste.

Hopefully both communities will keep producing good worship leaders and good musicians. Most importantly, I hope we can produce our own songs which speak to us as a church and speak for us as a church. CCM:East has been doing that for a while as it is (Alistair has skills!). CCM:City has not got there yet but hopefully we will produce songs and song writers that will properly reflect central Manchester.

Quality Video

I like the idea of churches trying to engage in and communicate with their local culture and community. I also like it when it is obviously gospel.

CCK in Brighton have done this video. It is engaging stuff. The wide variety of people questioned (it looks like a good cross section of Brighton) and the broad range of answers they give is genuinely fascinating. Everyone has an opinion on Jesus.

Two Terry Tweets

I noticed Terry Virgo tweet these tweets yesterday –

  • Worship songs having no content in stating the glorious facts of the gospel are sometimes prized merely for their melody, like entertainment.
  • Sad attempts to make worship “relevant” compromise our real desire to meet with the Lord we love & commune with him.

I have to say that I agree. I don’t want worship to be for entertainment (however I really don’t want to sit through a worship time led by a free form jazz band who have no concept of melody). The point Terry seems to be making is that the content of songs is the most important thing. Songs should be packed full of theology. The words should inspire us, teach us and point us to God. So in many ways the music doesn’t matter. I can worship at a big Christian conference even though the music is a long way from my taste because the words are amazing and because if I don’t choose to worship then the stones will worship (although to be honest I did bunk a bit as there is only some much “crazy dancing” this guy can do)..

Don Terry then tweets about how attempting “relevant” worship can compromise a real desire to meet with God. I am not sure I know what he means by relevant. I suspect he is frustrated by worship songs that lack in content and worship times that don’t leave stacks of space for the spirit to move. Again, I agree.

I do not want relevant worship at CCM:City or CCM:East (CCMs two sites). I want heartfelt, passionate, and authentic worship to God. I want songs with words that teach and inspire. You can do all of those things in a wide variety of genre. I would even suggest that this is possible, with the right crowd, when using some of the more extreme genres.

If you can have songs with amazing words, people who worship whole heartedly,  and the Spirit can move as he wants then God is glorified and the worship is relevant. So there is no reason why you cannot use dubstep, teenpop, Xfactor drivel, death metal, punk, britpop, dadrock (although we have this one nailed already), bhangra, and anything else you fancy.

Elbow Dropped by Joel Virgo

So I was sat in the final session of Together on a Mission (Christian conference) listening to Joel Virgo preach. He was holding my attention, he was funny and I was learning stuff as he taught from 2 Samuel 10. Joel started to talk about the need to honour leaders that have been raised up (the Ammonites were failing to do this). In my opinion, it was the second best talk of the week (Andrew Wilson blew my mind in mobilise. How can someone talk so quick and still be so very engaging and challenging?).

Joel spent sometime talking about how we need to honour leaders and how this is unpopular in modern culture. He is probably right but the idea makes me uncomfortable, which is most likely the culture with in me reacting!

Then Joel started to talk about bloggers. His point being that bloggers can get attention way above their level of leadership and that they can express opinion without accountability. I guess this means that just because some dude/dudette can use a blogging website then we pay them more attention than perhaps there maturity deserves. All excellent points.

For a moment I was distracted. Was this me? I am fairly mouthy at the best of times.

Maybe it is me, but that is the joy of blogging. The internet gives us a level playing field and democracy rules. The good stuff floats to the top, which is how the internet honours people! If you don’t like it don’t read it, chances are not many other people do either.

Personally, I only follow blogs when I know the writer has a life outside of blogging or has actual expertise in what they write about. I also avoid blogs with a high and mighty tone. Which rules out a great deal.

Mobilise 2010

I am going to give the ranting a rest for a little bit. I am at Mobilise this week and Together on a Mission this week so I may comment a little on that. If you are desperately bored and feel your life has become a futile exsistence then you can follow me on twitter

I would guess that a whole bunch of Newfrontiers bloggers will have there say so I may just post a bunch of links OR I may write about other things (the worship music genre?).

Anyways, this is a rubbish blog post. Watch this and be grateful that I am here to improve your taste in music –

Generic mid 90s white boy rock

Andy Back and Luke Morris make excellent comments on my last post. They are address the issue of lyrical content and I agree with them both. A corporate worship song packed with good theology and biblical content is the best kind. The “Jesus is my boyfriend” stuff is hard for me to navigate without getting a little annoyed.

A number of modern worship artists/leaders write songs with cracking content. Stuff you can really get your head round and as a middle class lad, who has been to Uni and been around church culture my whole life it is easy for me to identify with these songs. That may not be the case for everyone. I think songs that are more about emotional than intellectual engagement are not to be dismissed by theological snobbery.

My main beef is the music styles used. Which some may view as being less important than lyrical content but I beg to differ. PJ Smyth blogs about the importance of credible Sunday meetings and Ed Stetzer writes (brilliantly) about contextualisation here and here. The music we use when we worship has to be a part of that conversation.

Let me pose you a question. Why do most of the large Christian Youth events, albums and even Youth Churches have generic mid 90s white boy rock (Paul Weller on a slow day) as their Worship Music genre of choice? Again, where is the creativity?

(Please note – I am aware that I am asking questions and have not ever provided the answers! I have not tried to innovate with music at church myself as I have never had that level of influence or anywhere near the level of required ability. My hope and my intention is that CCM:City will at least attempt the things I am ranting about)