Thinking Out Loud

July 16, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Abraham Isaac Jacob postage stamps

Summertime and the linkin’ is easy…Our biggest collection ever with 40 bullets!

How Cats Ended Up With Nine Lives

While not curating the internet, Paul Wilkinson blogs at Thinking Out Loud and C201.

Rapture Survivor Card

February 7, 2014

Churches with Loud Worship Bands May Need More Than Earplugs

Browns Bridge at Church Stage Design

As someone whose hearing hasn’t exactly been helped by exposure to loud music at Christian rock concerts in my 20s, I have a special interest in today’s topic.  It started with a Tweet by Kyle Idleman, who apparently visited Pete Wilson’s church in Nashville last Sunday, and noticed the availability of earplugs at the door. Kyle likes his music loud, so he was excited at the prospect of extra decibels. His wife thought they were packages of breath mints.

Is this common, we wondered? (The earplugs, not the confusion with breath mints.)

Sure enough, a search revealed a host of results, including a review of a church in Nebraska,  or this worship apologetic from Mike Pittman, church location not specified:

At Vertical we like our music a little louder than a lot of churches. How loud? Loud enough that you can sing out and not feel like everybody around you is listening to you (and all of the people who can’t sing said “amen”!). We have great sound technicians who work hard to ensure that our sound is full and consistent from week to week.

One of the things that is difficult about music volume is that people’s opinion is subjective and personal. Not everyone likes their music the same volume and with that in mind we have made the conscious decision to let the volume of our music be defined by the people we are trying to reach. This means that a few people thinking it is too loud is not reason to turn it down in such a manner that it affect our what we believe Vertical Worship sounds like. Our worship to Jesus is alive, loud and vibrant. With this in mind we decided to make earplugs available to anyone who feels that our music is too loud.

emphasis in original

Evidence of the widespread use of earplugs turns up in articles like this one “And don’t offer me any of those blasted ear-plugs; I shouldn’t have to wear earplugs in church!  I should just like what is being played and how it’s being played.”  The topic also appears on discussion boards like this, “if they handed out earplugs to me it would be goodbye time;” or, “It seems to me that earplugs would be the bandaid, not the cure.” (Link broken as of this morning.)

The earplug phenomenon has been around churches long enough it seems that it’s already fodder for blog satire.  “Handing out ear plugs says to the congregation ‘The volume is as low as it’s gonna go’”

The question churches need to ask however, is this: “Is providing earplugs sufficient to avoid potential liability issues resulting from hearing loss?”  I’m willing to wager that the average visitor isn’t expecting rock concert volumes at a church service. Last summer, we attended a youth service held in a former nightclub on the east fringes of Toronto and I was reminded firsthand of the volume levels that have no doubt contributed to the loss of high-end sound definition I sometimes experience. Really. Isn’t. Necessary.

And it’s not just the music. A while ago we carried this excerpt from a bulletin at North Point:

“This service contains flashing lights which may cause problems for people with photosensitive epilepsy.”

North Point Church Lighting Warning

There’s no doubt in my mind that excessive volume levels simply puts people at risk and exposes churches to liability issues, but all of this is simply another example of the modern church using youth ministry models to guide what takes place on Sunday morning. I doubt the early church house meetings in any way resembled what megachurches do on the weekend, nor would they even recognize those gatherings as religious in nature if they simply walked into the back during the worship set. 

I also believe that handing out earplugs is an admission that something is not right. Furthermore, there are all types of contextual issues at being presented with a rock concert at a 9:00 AM service versus the same band, same volume at 6:00 PM, at least for this writer.

I like my music loud enough that I can sing out, even try some harmonies, without feeling intimidated. I love the energy. I love the passion.

But it isn’t supposed to hurt.

Upper Image: Browns Bridge Church story at Church Stage Design (click to link)

Plugger Feb 25 2012

January 9, 2014

Megachurch Miscellany

Filed under: Church, technology — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:10 am

Lighthouse Church Florida at Church Stage Design Ideas

So on Saturday night we made a return visit to a large (redundant adjective) megachurch west of Toronto.  Here’s a few things that stand out after several days…

What do the colors mean?

A family of five had sat down just a few rows in front of us. When you’re visiting, you just assume everyone else is a regular attender. But after the service, the man approached an usher and asked, “What do the colors mean?”

It’s a standard feature of today’s modern church that as much or more will be spent on lighting as will be spent on sound. In this auditorium, LED panels on the stage are complemented by LED ‘pots’ on the walls; so the entire room changes from green, to blue, to yellow, to red — all at the same time — with a new color for each song.

The problem is, that in Anglican or Episcopal churches, the colors of the day mean something in reference to the church calendar. The color of the cloth that drapes the altar. The color of the stole rector wears. For that matter, the temples in some sci-fi stories often have walls that change color denoting something of deep significance.

It’s just not something Evangelicals would think about. The usher dismissed the question with “It’s just aesthetics,” but personally, I think that (a) it was a fair question and (b) it’s indicative of the wide range of people who are slipping into our church services.

Will that be smoking or non-smoking?

Honestly, the ushers at this place were a major distraction. I can now say I finally get the “Usher Contest” jokes that Garrison Keillor does. Many of the people in leadership in this church came out of a Baptist tradition. Maybe that explains it. Actually, they had been a distraction on our first visit as well, which you wouldn’t expect considering we had been sitting in the third row.

However… ushering a group of seven people from the very back to the very front in the middle of a prayer? Seriously. That one crossed a line for me.

I also now understand the 80% rule: When 80% of your seating is being used you are ‘comfortably full’ and people will continue to invite friends and/or become regulars. Over 80% and you’re starting to get a little crowded. This church already has three weekend services, so I don’t know what the solution is, but they were determined to pack people into every last chair from the front to the back.

Maybe that’s the problem.  They should fill the front completely before the service, and then let latecomers find seats nearer the back.

Oh…and this church really needs to get with the program when it comes to requesting people accustomed to wearing scented products to knock it off. It’s a new world, filled with new people with new kinds of environmental allergies. But we’ve already discussed that here and here. So we upset at least one usher by not moving in because Mrs. W. desperately needs to have an aisle seat.

Why are they wheeling in a giant screen TV?

Even though I watch Andy Stanley online each and every week, it never occurred to me that the giant monitor he teaches with is somewhat redundant in a large auditorium that already has a couple of Jumbotron-type screens.

So I’m watching on the mega screen as a man teaches pointing at a somewhat smaller screen, which of course, is being picked up by the mega screen.

Of the spending of money on A/V equipment by churches, there is no end.  The growth of megachurches means this is a great time to invest in companies that make sound and lighting and broadcast equipment for large auditoriums.

I thought perhaps the idea was to keep the preacher in the shot at all times, but then Mrs. W. correctly pointed out that earlier, the announcements had been done using a split screen, and with much clearer results. 

I guess the answer to this, as it often is where technology is concerned, is “because you can.”

Image: Lighthouse Church in Panama City, Florida; click image to read details at ChurchStageDesignIdeas.com

November 28, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Some extra graphics this week for your Facebook page or tumblr blog.

  • UPDATE from yesterday’s post here concerning Two-and-a-Half Men actor Angus T. Jones: Journalist Maria Cowell has asked all the right questions in this interview posted at Christianity Today.
  • Christmas songs: How soon should they start and how many should you do? For worship leaders, Jason Hatley offers a programmatic approach to building Christmas music content. (Mainline churches don’t have this problem as tradition pretty well dictates content.)
  • Or you could do this song. (Nobody would ever forget it.)
  • Which reminds me, our 2010 post, Should Audiences Stand for the Hallelujah Chorus still gets a lot of readers and the odd comment. (But you should probably stand for And Can It Be and All Hail The Power, too.)
  • Lots of music-related stuff this week, like Rich Kirkpatrick’s list of questions about worship ministry that weekend service attenders might like answered. (Some of which I hadn’t thought of before.)
  • Of course you can’t please everyone with church music; here’s a classic Perry Noble response from 2007 — five years ago — about loud music in the church.  (He’s running a top ten list from each of the last seven years of blogging.)
  • Or you might prefer Perry’s 2006 post on seven reasons why Jesus wouldn’t qualify as a pastor in most of our churches. (He’d certainly be under review by now.)
  • Mark O. offers some great advice for the parents and youth leaders of middle-school teens on how they see themselves.  (It actually does involve using a mirror.)
  • I’m not sure why I made this a ‘page’ and not a ‘post’ — probably the extreme length of it — but we still get lots of hits on The Eight Things That Destroyed Our Marriage, culled from eight different blog posts by Justin and Trisha Davis. (I think Justin turns up occasionally on Pete Wilson’s Sunday service online feed.)
  • Sometimes the things that turn up in a week of faith-based web-surfing are just bizarre, like this April-released movie, Seventh Gay Adventists. (I think it’s more about gay than the SDA church.)
  • Greg Boyd — a major proponent of what’s called ‘open theology’ — defines the phrase in terms of ‘unrealized possibilities’ in this four minute video.  (But does God know if you’re going to click on this link or not?)
  • Here’s another review of a 2009 book that is proving to be the sleeper title of 2012: The Lost World of Genesis One. (Note to friends and family: Since you can’t get review copies of 3-year-old books, this one is at the top of my Christmas list.)
  • A word of the week for preachers and public speakers: Fermata.  (Hint: It’s a music term.) (HT: Darryl Dash‘s Saturday Link List for pastors.)
  • Ken Ham responds to a website written for teens who need encouragement in living as atheists, including a section on how they can ‘come out’ to their parents. (He encourages parents to have a counter-response.)
  • There’s an app for The War Cry, the Salvation Army magazine that traces its history back to 1879 enters the digital age. (Canadian readers: Ours is a different edition; not sure if it’s online.)
  • Are there people at your church you try to avoid? Just asking. (Maybe I’m the guy everybody else is avoiding.)

I love this well-marked Bible; it’s my current desktop theme.

November 2, 2012

Skye Jethani: Multi-Site is Biblically Counter-Intuitive

This quotation is from the Phil Vischer podcast (episode 23) and occurs starting around the 32:00 mark, with this text around 35:00

If I’m going to go and sit in a room with a bunch of strangers and watch a screen anyway, why not just sit at home and watch the same thing and not have to deal with the parking headaches… Here’s the irony: In my mind: of all the religions out there, Christianity is the one for whom incarnation is absolutely essential. It’s the foundation of our faith; God became flesh and dwelt among us. That’s the incarnation. And now we are disincarnating the Church … the pastor’s just a projection of pixels on a screen, I don’t really know the people around me because it’s such a massive community that I’m just anonymous in it. And I think, frankly, that although these trends are happening… I don’t think it’s going to last…

Here’s the thing… I can come in as a guest speaker. I know a little bit about your community, a little bit about that congregation. I can say some things, I can drop some bombs, I can fly away. But when you are incarnate in that community, like this pastor [where I was last week] he’s telling me what’s going on in this church, people who are sick, families that are struggling, the nitty gritty of living life together in community and he knows these people… He takes that knowledge of his sheep into the pulpit with him as he crafts a sermon and studies the word of God, brings the reality of his congregation’s unique challenges and struggles together with the word of God. This is what you see Paul doing in Paul’s letters writing to specific churches. He’s combining the truths of the gospel with the reality of the church… The reason why God has given leaders to the church, shepherds in particular, is so that somebody on the ground is incarnate, who knows God’s sheep and can help them each with his word and the reality that they are experiencing individually and corporately in the body.

~Skye Jethani

September 25, 2012

Weekend Worship: We are at a Crossroads

For several months now I have had some misgivings about the sustainability of our present worship paradigm. Now someone has confirmed it…

They’ve grown up dancing, so they long to kneel.  They’ve grown up with masterfully orchestrated services, so they long for worship that may be planned, but never rehearsed.  They’ve grown up with the latest, so they long for the oldest.  They’ve grown up with, “God is here, let’s celebrate!”   They long for “God is here, let’s kneel and be silent.” 

They’ve grown up being urged, “Now, everyone can just worship God however you might want.  Just let the Holy Spirit move you.  We are all different.”  So now some are seeking worship where the implied advice is, “Now, everyone leave your hyper-individuality at the door.  Let’s say words together.  Let’s make gestures together.  Stand together.  Kneel together.  Let’s listen to the wisdom the Holy Spirit has given over the centuries.”

continue reading Sneaking Into Worship by Tom Lawson at Adorate

September 5, 2012

Wednesday Link List

This week’s links include:

August 25, 2012

Kent Dobson Succeeds Rob Bell at Mars Hill Grand Rapids

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:13 am

First, Rob Bell was on the pastoral staff at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, working under Pastor Ed Dobson. Then he departed to start Mars Hill and as the story goes, launched the first Sunday with over 1,000 present to hear the first of a year long series on Leviticus.  Yes, Leviticus. For one year. “That’s in all the church growth books, right?” Bell has quipped.

This week, Mars Hill Bible Church announced that Ed Dobson’s son, Kent Dobson would assume the senior teaching pastor position. The Dobsons are both no strangers to Mars Hill; the elder often occupying a place in the congregation after leaving Calvary Church, the younger serving as a worship director in the church’s early years.

More details in this Christianity Today story.

Like the person he is replacing, Kent Dobson is no stranger to controversy as outlined in this 2008 local news story.

May 16, 2012

Wednesday Link List

If you missed the bonus edition of the link list this week, be sure to click over to Monday.

  • Quotation of the day, from Arminius, after whom Arminianism is named: ““Next to the study of the Scriptures which I earnestly inculcate, I exhort my pupils to peruse Calvin’s Commentaries…” (appropriately, as quoted on an Arminian blog.)
  • Canadian author, apologist and television host Grant Jeffrey passed away on the weekend. His independent publishing catalog was purchased years ago by Random House subsidiary Waterbrook Press, with Wikipedia listing 34 titles including one scheduled for next January.
  • At Age 30, Chris Galanos is the youngest person to pastor a megachurch in the United States. Needless to say, it’s in Texas.
  • If you have ever struggled to sing the bridge to “Blessed Be The Name” — the “You give and take away” part — you might resonate with this article and many comments.
  • On the 20th anniversary of New Wineskins magazine, Keith Brenton deals with the emotional issues that arise when one reaches a crossroads in terms of their committment to their church home. To stay or to go, that is the question. 
  • Julie Clawson learns the hard way that when you’re in the fitting room trying on swimsuits, you’re a captive audience for the woman who wants to stand outside the door and share her faith. Not sure if this would work at the menswear store.
  • Lots of Bible-related links today; that’s a good thing, right? Now picture yourself sitting alone in your room reading your Bible. In the grander scheme of things, you’re not really alone.
  • Francis Chan makes a rather provocative statement about mission and worship, and — just like Andy Stanley’s fifteen minutes of controversy last week — the words get wrenched from the heart of what he’s saying. Gee…that’s never happened before.
  • How does a Bible translator feel when a new English version is introduced, knowing so many people still don’t have a Bible or even a complete New Testament in their language.
  • The Amish weren’t supposed to have cars, but did anybody say they couldn’t fly? In a community where the official ruling was still pending, a young man takes up flying in 1917, and where the Great War is going on, he also is an exception to the practice of exemption from military duty. All this makes The Wings of Morning a rather interesting looking novel.
  • The Gay issue. It’s the toughest challenge the church has faced in years. And each gay person is going to have contact — good or bad — with professing Christians. And for every 17 interactions, you have to hope one of us gets it right.
  • Pete Wilson boards a helicopter for a flyover of a piece of property central to a complete relocation of Cross Point in Nashville, and also celebrates a God-blessed history in this 15-minute video.
  • Sports Department: Victor Goetz is a championship golfer, however he’s also quite blind. He typically finishes with a score of 105. He also earned a Paralympic gold medal in lawn bowling.
  • Pop goes the music department: A new Owl City EP released yesterday with help from Matt Thiessen of Relient K.
  • A Lutheran (LCC) pastor thinks you can preach a perfect sermon but still get a failing grade if you’ve answered all the wrong questions or left people with the wrong mandate.
  • Michael Hyatt sits down with the originators of a rather unique new English Bible translation, The Voice. This edition uses a dramatic script format where applicable, and I’m hoping at some point to get a copy so we can delve into it here in much more detail. (There’s a page sample from one month ago at this blog when the usual suspects got upset about a particular phrase translation choice.)
  • For those who follow the Fundy Follies, Right Wing Watch blog is doing a series based on the student handbook at Liberty University; this link deals with the policy of random drug testing. Too bad thought-monitoring hasn’t been invented yet.
  • Which is a great lead-in to twelve easy steps the rest of us can follow that provide an absolute guarantee that we’ll never be mistaken for a Fundy.
  • ‘You and I in a little toy shop, buy a bag of balloons for the Bibles we bought…’ — They weren’t red balloons, but they carried Bibles into North Korea, and GPS tracking devices verified that they reached the target.
  • You’ve seen the line, “If you love Jesus click ‘like.’” Does that mean that if I don’t click, I don’t love Jesus? Is Facebook theology becoming shallow, or were the FB-ers who post this drivel spiritually shallow to begin with?
  • Now then, as to that Archie comic above. If you’re old enough to remember the “even then it was awkward evangelism” Spire Christian Comics and want to relive those memories, Carp’s Place has them waiting for you on .pdf files…
  • …And since one Archie deserves another, I thought we’d end with TV favorite 1970′s bigot, Archie Bunker; and if you dare, a link to Archie reading the creation story from Genesis, which isn’t quite the same as Linus reading the Christmas story.

November 10, 2011

The Hat Debate

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:49 am

I really want you guys, especially North American readers, to click the comment section on this one, okay?

Church has changed a lot in the past 15-20 years.  In many churches, the music rocks, parishioners are dressed workplace casual, people sip coffee during the sermon, and drama often replaces formal liturgy.  A mainstream blogger writes:

There was a time when all men wore hats, they knew how to wear them and they knew when to wear them. They also knew when to remove them. There was a certain hat etiquette that everyone followed. Generally, a man did not wear a hat indoors, and there were no exceptions, except in lobbies or hallways of office buildings. A man could keep his hat on in the elevator, except if a lady were present. A man never — ever — wore a hat in a movie, restaurant or concert theatre. Ever.  Under any circumstances.  Besides, hats were the reason that restaurants, theatres and concert halls had hat checks.  Men were supposed to check their hats at the door.  “May I take your hat, please?”

So what about men (and boys) wearing baseball caps in church?  Traditionally, one removed their hat in formal settings, but modern church services ain’t exactly formal. 

So two questions in particular:

  • Does the rule still apply?
  • Should a church directly confront — as one did here last month — a young man in his 30s over his hat wearing?

Maybe you find this trivial, but take 30-seconds to let your voice be heard.

Older Posts »

The Silver is the New Black Theme. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.