Consumeristic Venues?

Our church community has recently ventured off on a journey of creating on-site worship venues. By “venue” we mean that this is a second, simultaneous worship experience that occurs during the main worship service, but has an “opposing” worship style. So, while one part of our church is worshipping in the main worship center through a more “classic” worship style, there is a smaller segment of our people worshipping in the second, more intimate location (a venue) with a “current” worship style. (NOTE: The venue has the same preacher and message from the main worship service, brought in through video).

So, as our church continues to move from having three distinct worship styles, to only two distinct worship styles, at the same time we are seeking to broaden the opportunity in which one can experience either of these two styles (we are projecting five more venues within the next five years at our two main campuses).

While having a conversation about this pursuit of venues, a lay leader responded that he felt the development of venues was too consumeristic, having our personal desires trump our ultimate desire for God.

This caution is nothing new within worship ministry and very prominent in mega-church circles. Here are a few things that I tend to respond with:

  1. The danger of being too consumeristic is real, and we are guilty of it from time to time.
  2. Somewhere there is a balance of leading our people towards prescribed & proper attitudes of worship, and still reflecting servant leadership of addressing the needs of the people (i.e. worship style.)
  3. We are a 76-year-old church which has a very large generational gap. We desire to be as contextual as we can be to these backgrounds, without becoming too fractured.

I personally lean on point number three as my “go-to,” because the need to be relevant and contextual is such a high value of mine. I sometimes wonder if we should change the term worship style to worship language. That way we can make an easier parallel towards worship contextualization.

For example, if you were in an Mexican church and started speaking in English, no one would understand you (unless it was a Pentecostal church). You would obviously want to be contextually appropriate and speak in Spanish, not thinking that such a decision would be consumeristic.

Maybe in the same fashion we have to realize that with the “generationally diverse church” we exist within, there are some that desire to project their worship in one, contextually suited worship language, while another segment seeks a second, more current worship language?

A subject that has been discussed for years, and I realize I am saying nothing new here…but what do you think? Are venues consumeristic?

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~ by Dave Smith on June 13, 2008.

6 Responses to “Consumeristic Venues?”

  1. If I were to write a song or poem, and it were to represent my true feelings and faith, that would be the truest, most authentic expression of my faith. I think that this original statement would mean the most to God and to me. However, not everyone can write a song or poem. If I’m that person who can’t express myself artistically, I would want to sing songs, or recite poetry that would make me say, “If I could write music, this is the kind of music I would offer to God. If I could write poetry, these are the words I would write to and about Him and this is how I would want to say it.”

    While there is the danger of worrying too much about individual taste and becoming consumeristic, there is also something about allowing people to express their faith in and love for God in the way that truly means something to them. Venues, when done well and with constant pointing to God as the audience, can allow for this.

  2. eric…i think that’s one of the most succinct and well-thought-out explanations of why worship styles can & should differ…well put.

  3. New venue ….. same preacher/message? Ughh! Aren’t you just jumping thru hoops to make it look like you’re making a move? No one ends up winning here. AND THE SAME WORSHIP LEADER? Like I said earlier, this has become insulting. And to those crying consumerism, how about you stop reaching out to the choir. How saved can that choir get? This reminds me of a CoC church I went to. They didn’t believe in musical instruments! It was for the consumer driven church! See my point? Progress helps us reach the unsaved and those on the fringes peeking in the windows.

  4. You bring up a really good point.

    As I am simply speaking about “worship language” you are going appropriately further and speaking towards “worship culture.”

    There does come a point where the music language and language from teh pulpit can become too distant. Not sure where that quite is. Right not at our early venue, we haven’t heard that complaint…however at our later worship venue, it has been mentioned.

    There definitely comes a point where it is just best to plant a church with its very own style…but then can it compete with not only the consumeristic appeals of worship style, but also high level programming, resources, quality, etc.?

  5. “We are a 76-year-old church which has a very large generational gap. We desire to be as contextual as we can be to these backgrounds, without becoming too fractured.”

    How does adding new venues do anything to bridge this gap (which is obvious to anyone who looks for it)? If anything, won’t this actually reinforce that the gap exists and potentially broaden it further?

    Here’s my opinion with the gloves off: the church is perhaps the epitome consumeristic culture. Older congregants want old school. Younger congregants want new school. Neither side is willing to compromise, and really, why should you compromise? If you don’t like the product being offered, just go down the street to the next Superstore to see what they have for sale.

  6. I would say yes… adding venues is extremely consumeristic. We live in an increasingly narcissistic period of time and from what I have seen… the church has merely catered to and enabled this attitude. Further more, Worship should never be about what “our” tastes are… It is a Worship SERVICE because we are there to offer OUR service To God.
    God bless the Journey you are on.

    Isaiah 6

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