According to Stetzer, worship has become more visual. When we (at his church) sing of blood we show blood. When we sing of Christ, we use art from the ages to show Christ.’ (P140).
I found this fascinating. In the conservative circles in which I was saved it was noticeable that I never found any images, crosses or anything remotely ‘religious’ either in the church building or in the homes of the believers that I visited. Nothing. Not a thing to signify their faith in Christ. Coming from a staunch catholic background this confused me at first. I was looking for some picture of Jesus or Mary, anything to validate the truth of what this ‘born again crew’ were teaching me. I soon learned that, ‘we don’t bow to graven images, young man’. Gulp.
Interestingly, in our midweek ‘Recover’ meeting here at NCC, I found that if I try to get people to sing a Christian song with the guitar they find it awkward and are extremely self-conscious. On the other hand, if I play the same song with a video clip from YouTube, they openly relax and even begin to sing under their breath and engage more with God through what they are seeing.
In the past I have shown clips from Mel Gibson’s film – The Passion of Christ – in Sunday services in order to highlight the great suffering Christ went through on behalf of his sheep. Interestingly, every single ‘Niddrie person’ (believer and unbeliever) identified with it immediately and became very emotional. Yet, nearly every single ‘long-term Christian’ (part of the original plant) was mightily offended and found it ‘distasteful’ or even ‘idolatrous’ to be depicting Christ thus.
So, what is right? Well, surely it can’t be right to offend the weaker brother just to make a point (although I know many who would disagree) but on the other hand it can’t be right to deprive people of something that they feel brings them closer to understanding the full sacrifice of Christ on their behalf. In this case, I have largely stopped showing the clips on Sundays and now only show them in my midweek meetings, where appropriate.
It’s a tough balance pastoring a church that, at the moment, consists largely of middle class Christians with strongly held convictions on just about everything. The hard work comes in getting them to relax in order to engage with a culture largely alien to them. It’s quite another getting Niddrie folk to understand why people may not like something which, in the words of one local, ‘made me just love Jesus more. He took some heavy **** fer me, hey?’
In essentials unity…in the rest, have a chill pill. I am almost sure I read that somewhere.