Friday, July 24, 2009

Last night, several of our students invited Andy and I to a weekly event at a nearby coffee house/"prayer center". We were intrigued so we tagged along to check it out. Let me start this blog sharing what I did enjoy about the experience, then I'll share some things I didn't like (probably because I'm getting old). I also have some caution flags about it that I'd like your opinions on.

First, the ambiance of the room was great. I really enjoy entering into a darker room when it comes to a worship service. There's something about the dimmed lighting that makes me feel more of a freedom to worship. I also enjoyed the chill atmosphere. People of every shape, size, and quirk were there which is great. I whole-heartedly support a diverse blend of people coming together to worship Jesus together. I liked the band. The keyboardist is wicked talented! Unfortunately this is where my list ends. I really hate to say this because I went with the hope that when I needed a different style of worship from what our church offers, I could head there on a Thursday night. Sadly, this won't probably's why.

I mentioned liking the chill atmosphere, but I feel like those in leadership positions should still keep an eye out for visitors even if everyone seems to know everyone. Only one person made an attempt to introduce herself and learn our names. (As Christians, we should really get better at this as greeting visitors is something almost every church I've ever been too has issues with.)

Second, the music. Oh, the music. Now maybe this is where I'm old, but in a room a little over 1,000 sq ft there is no need for 2 subwoofers and 4 additional speakers. Way too loud! I could say more about the music, but I'll touch on that later perhaps.

Third, repetition. What is the purpose of singing the same song for 45 minutes solid? I'm not trying to be sarcastic or funny here. I really don't understand the purpose. Also, the speaker, a 19 year old guy, repeated almost every single line of his "thing" as he called it. (Apparently, the term "message" is too intimidating...according to him). I feel like repetition really pulls at the emotional strings of people. It seemed that in the song we sang, which said "Shout unto God with the voice of triumph, Shout unto God with a voice of praise" if we weren't yelling loud and literally shouting to God, then we must not be letting God work in us. So they kept repeating and singing, and stopping to pray, and singing it more until people were literally shouting! I feel like worship is personal and no one should feel forced to react to God's presence .

Fourth, emotional trigger words. What do I mean by this? Ignite, emergency, last days, and release. When these words are repeated, a sense of urgency and fire (for lack of a better words) comes into my heart, but without basis. Maybe this doesn't make sense, but I can't figure out how to better phrase it.

Finally, Scripture should always be the root of any type of Bible Study, church, Christian gathering, etc. No where in Scripture do we find that its ok to pray to Satan, even if its for him to leave the room. Shouldn't we pray to Jesus to bind Satan away? Also, quoting only partial verses with no references is a slippery deal. It makes it very easy, especially in an environment with non-christians and new christians, for things to be taken out of context and no one be aware. Manipulation is also a result of using verses out of context. I guess ultimately with this, my concern is that while a lot of what the speaker said had some truth to it, only bits and pieces were from Scripture. This to me is a major caution flag. If you aren't going to use the Bible as your outline and guide in a Bible Study, then why even use it? Why not talk about personal thoughts and feelings in a forum style environment?

I'm not trying to be overly critical. I'm simply sharing my observations of the event. If anyone has any thoughts, please share. I don't want this to become controversial, but varying opinions are welcome. Overall, it was an interesting experience and I was able to walk away with my eyes opened in a new way, though maybe not the way intended.


Liv said...

They didn't say anything about praying to Satan...?

Ivanka said...

I was curious as to what your thoughts on Unleashed were.

You called it a Bible Study, but that's not what it is. It's more like a motivational concert with a Christian message. It's not meant to replace mass, or so I've been told, but rather somewhere to go to if you have no where to go, regardless of the many reasons people are there, and like they announce at the end, they'll help direct you to a church with your preference in worship style and what not.

I'm not in there the whole time, as you could see, working in the cafe and all. So I'm sure there's some things that I missed out on. (Like I don't recall anything about praying to Satan.)
Don't feel old because the music is too loud, cause while outside in the cafe I'm thinking the same thing.

I agree with a lot of what you're saying. Repetition annoyed me too, but this is something that seems to be mostly targeted towards teens and college students, though anyone is welcome to come.

When I say we, I'm speaking on behalf of myself and people in my general age group, +/- a few years. You know what I mean.
Adults for the most part get the message the first time. For us, it takes some cramming down our throats to get the light bulb to even make an attempt at turning on.

We're the ADD and ADHD generation. While the speaker was going on about being desensitized, we're mesmerized by the strange flickering light coming from beneath someone's seat.
What is that? Is is a phone? Someones shades? Jewelry? EGADS! DID IT JUST MOVE!?

Unfortunately, we're still at a point in our lives where we're running on an emotional circuit. We think emotionally, we act emotionally, etc.
It takes an emotional push to get us to do something. In a bad way, make us feel pressured to worship out loud. In a good way, open our eyes to what we're missing out on.

I do see how reason for concern my arise. Emotions can be dangerous without an equal, if not greater, balance of logic. One flip of the switch, and the whole room can go from loving and worshipping to pulling out knives and shanking eachother. Maybe that's what the shiny thing under the seat is?

When I was 12 I found Christ through fear, obviously one of the strongest driving emotions out there. So whether its good or bad, emotions are what lead me to seek salvation, and from there the urge to learn and study the logical side of my faith so that I'm not only worshipping God because I feel him there but because I have proof.

Of course, this isn't about me. What I'm getting at is that's how some people are introduced to God, get interested in him, and get that push they need.

For us Southside kids, this is how the previous youth pastor taught us except that it wasn't emotion alone, but logic too. Emotion kept our attention, logic kept us coming back.

Unleashed is definately lacking, no doubt about it, but I also think its a good platform to work off of. With the right tweaking and spin on things, it has a lot of potential.

Not trying to start any contraversy either, just sharing my view point, opinions and observations.

Btw I love your blog. ^_^ The pic at the top is beautiful!

Rachel said...

I want to clarify something I said...No, they never said anything about praying to Satan. However, they did pray directly to Satan at one point of the prayer moments during the songs. Now, they were praying asking him to leave the room, but Jesus is the only one who can cast out Satan and his demons. We as Christians already have the victory over Satan, demons, and sin so why even bother talking to Satan, when we have Christ fighting the spiritual battle for us? Sorry for any confusion with that!!

Ivanka, you make some great points! You guys are part of the ADD/ADHD generation (unfortunately) which needs to be remembered by us adults. I also agree that emotions are a huge part of teenagers' lives and thus are a good diving off point when trying to convey messages of any type. I agree that its important to balance emotions and logic. I felt though that Unleashed only appealed to the emotions, and did not seek to meet any logical needs.

One more say its not a Bible study. Maybe its not called that, and I can see the reasoning and logic behind not calling it that (reaching a wider group of people, especially the seekers), but if the Bible is being opened, its the only source, besides personal observations, used when talking about topics, and there is a specific time designated to simply listen to someone share from the Bible, then it is in fact a Bible study. Just like Monday nights at my house aren't meant to replace coming to church, I can appreciate that Unleashed also doesn't have the intention to replace church. But what we do at my house is a Bible study, and so is Unleashed.

Just felt these things needed clarification or my point of view explained further. Hope this helps! And for the record, I would like to go again with you girls soon. Perhaps I caught an off day and I would like to give it another shot in a couple of weeks. :)

Ivanka said...

I also believe Unleashed is lacking in logic. I'm thinking if they had that it'd be such a powerful thing. It'd be like BAM! lol
I'm happy to know you'd like to give it a second chance. =) And I think it'd be a great to maybe share some ideas with the crew behind it. I don't think they'd be opposed to hearing ideas towards improving it or maybe a different way of approaching people.