Thursday, August 30, 2007

To Screen or Not to Screen: That is NOT the Question!

The United Methodist General Board of Discipleship maintains a worship resource page , with many wonderful and thought provoking resources. Recently in their “music” section, Dean McIntyre released a music musings titled: “To Screen or Not to Screen.” His article has sparked this rant, I mean these thoughts. The article is about the pros and cons of using projection screens in worship. Unfortunately, from the beginning the article seems destined to come down on the cons side. I invite you to read the article and decide for yourself. (You can find the article at,823).

I have serious problems with the article which I could address point by point, but will refrain in this blog. ( I invite both of you who read my blog to read the article and post what you think.). You see for me the question is not whether or not to use video projection but rather a deeper question; Are we willing to step out of the 1950s and create worship which speaks to most people today? That is the real question.

We live in a visual, video age. In 1950 only 9% of U.S. households owned TVs. Today over 98% own TVs. On average households watch over 8 hours of TV a day. It does not matter whether we think this is good or bad (that is a topic for another blog). Rather this is simply our reality. To ignore the use of projection, video and other forms of communication is to be irrelevant for a significant portion of our population.

For me the issue of projection or not projection is only the symptom of a greater problem; our failure to adapt to these changing times and to find ways to creatively use these new resources in worship and ministry. Adding projection to our worship only brings us up to the technology and reality of the 1980s (which is an improvement over our current 1950s practices). To completely ignore the use of this technology is to write off at least two generations of potential worshipers.

All of this illustrates the need for us to wrap our heads and hearts around change. We can no longer afford to pretend the changes in our world do not exist or will simply go away. They keep on happening and leave us farther behind.

I am not suggesting video projection is a fix for lousy worship. It is not. Done poorly it is a distraction and detriment to worship. But done well it enhances and enriches the worship experience.

By the way, in my experience projection does not simply appeal to youth and young adults. I hear older adults, particularly those with vision difficulties talk about how they can now see the words. I’ve seen adults who can not read music begin singing because they can follow the words. Persons new to the church can sing the songs and prayers “everybody knows” because the words are in front of them. (Remember we are rapidly approaching a time, if we are not already there, when the majority of people do not even know the Lord’s Prayer.)

I hope you will think about creative ways to respond to the changes in our world including the use of current technology to enhance the worship and ministry of the church.

Grace & peace,


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Homesick-- Camp—Community

I spent last week with 8,9 and 10 year old boys and girls at Camp Mechuwana as a counselor. It was a great time, though I am still recovering from my sleep deficit. This group of campers were much easier than prior years.

Each night I read to my cabin of boys “The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis. They enjoyed the story. Each day one of them would ask if I’d read to them again that night. Reading out loud is a powerful experience. In this age of video games, DVDs and television there is still room for a story read to a group of kids. I read by flashlight in a dark room so they were free to let their minds picture the entire story. It took me back to days when I read to my sons, perched on my lap, soaking in each word. We spent hours together like this. Time well spent.

I was privileged to walk the journey of homesickness with some of my campers. You may remember those days. The strangeness of a new place and the longing for the familiar which strikes in waves of sadness and tears. As I listened to my campers, I shared my own stories of being away from home and the techniques I used to combat my own homesickness. I was reminded of the intensity of feelings and how an understanding ear would make such a difference.

I wonder about our own homesickness. Do you ever feel that longing to be in a familiar place, a place where you are loved, a place where you are simply you? I feel it from time to time. Even though I am now two years in my new town and new home, I find myself longing for what was but is no longer my home.

Sometimes, I find myself wondering if there is any place of home for me? Sometimes it is as if there is no place I truly fit in.

I’ve read authors who suggest this is a part of our longing for the Kingdom yet to come, the new heaven and new earth. That could be, I don’t know. What I do know is it raises a longing in me for community. I think lost of folks long for true community, where others care for us, where we are accepted as we are, where there is commitment to love and sacrifice for one another. I’ve experienced that once in a church. I believe it is what the church is meant to be. It is one thing the church can offer our world. And perhaps that is why it is so disappointing when a church community is characterized by bitterness, prejudice, anger, selfishness, mistrust and strife. The loss of potential community feels so much greater then.

Maybe this is why the camp experience is so powerful and transformative. For a week we get to live in community as we hoped it would be. Even if it is short lived, it changes us.

So I’m a little tired this week. But it is a comforting tired, because for a week I was privileged to be a member of a camp community. I’m better for it. So are the kids.

Grace & peace,