It is a delight to be the spouse of a hard working, joy-filled, dedicated man.

Monday, September 28, 2009

While At The Fair

I came across a church service. Well not really, quite the opposite actually, it is just that it sounded exactly like a modern church service. Not an everyday (everySunday) service, just one of those special ones, those emotional ones, those ones that get "great results."

Our Vicktory Farm & Gardens display is always in the north end of the J barn, in years past during 4-H week when the sheep were in the J barn, Pierce county was always at the north end. The north end of the J barn and I are well acquainted. When you hang out at my end of the J barn, you can hear the goings-on on the Coca-Cola stage nearly as well as being in the bleachers.

In the old days of hanging around while the girls worked on their sheep, I have listened to the likes of The Shop. Now what is left of the band is Vocal Trash and they sound pretty good, even from inside the J barn in the Turkey pen while I sprinkled sawdust on the turkey poo.

There are other performers that entertain from the Coca Cola stage but those I just vaguely listen to because their gig is nothing I find appealing but over the years I have come to know who is on the stage. I was vaguely listening on Thursday as I was sweeping during a lull in the crowds, somewhere between the school Howdy Tours and family hours.

What I was hearing began to remind me of something, oh I knew what it really was, but what I was hearing was just like the end of a great church service: a stirring sermon, the worship team being called up back up front, the congregation really getting into singing the last slow song again, the repeated part repeats and repeats and then the pastor starts to speak over the instruments and the last singers and hummers. It is that part, the pastor speaking over the music, that came to mind when I was listening to what was going on on the Coca Cola stage.

The music goes all soft and easy and the pastor speaks over it in a prayer or talk, its been a while but I remember those services and so many times they resulted in folks coming forward, whether in an old fashioned alter call sense or an evangelical's version of the confessional. They were always stirring and most often draining, even if you stayed in your seat. And this stuff going on up on the stage late afternoon Thursday sounded exactly like it.

When you hear something that sounds like something else, sometimes when you hear it again you realize that you were off base and that it really wasn't like the thing you thought of at all. When this particular performer returned to the stage during the rest of my time at The Fair, I listened with that idea in mind: that the time I heard it and was reminded of a church service was a fluke and that it really didn't sound like it at all. Unfortunately the more times I heard it the more it cemented in my brain as a "church service" sound-a-like.

I had my reason to not want to hear a "church service" in it. I didn't want to connect what I was hearing coming from the Coca Cola stage to church. Because what had been playing on the Coca Cola stage late Thursday afternoon when I thought, "Wow, that sounds just like a church service," happened to be a hypnotist.

When I was in college I spent sometime in a department that was doing some brain studies with different types of music and sound. They pretty convincingly (electrodes on the brain) found that some music causes most brains to be clearer, and thinking and rationalization skills to pick it up a few notches. Some music, just sounds actually, can cause most brains to become susceptible to suggestion.

And now I was standing in the barn at the Puyallup Fair wondering a lot of things. But mostly thinking that I was glad that I hadn't experienced a conversion moment during one of these services or even a huge leap in my journey with God. Not that I think someone should doubt their salvation because of how they came to it or doubt the validity of a major repentance in their life because it happened during a certain type of church service. But I am saying for me, I am glad I hadn't and I am glad I do not "attend" those types of services any more.

God can use all sorts of things to get to us. Even after I changed, and my life began to head in a totally different direction from the devastatingly sinful one that I had immersed myself in during high school and shortly after, I still wanted to monkey around with not going wholly back to the Triune God. It took a Zen Buddhist to tell me that I couldn't have it both ways or a bunch of ways.

He straight up said that if I believed in God and His Son and Holy Spirit then that is what I had to believe in completely. I couldn't run around like the irritating little New Age-rs in Philosophy of Religion class and take a little of this and a little of that, all the easy, peaceful, non-violent things of different religions, and build a pseudo belief. For those hard words from a Zen Buddhist that sent me fully back to my Lord and Savior, I will always be grateful and I will always recognize that God can use anything to get his people to wake up. But I would never advocate hanging out with a Zen Buddhist in order to get closer to God.

That hypnotic music and use of the human voice may have made some feel closer to God, Christ, but I am not so sure it is a good thing.

A hired consultant may actually be able to help your church get over some magical number it can't grow past, but I'm not sure it is a good thing.

Re baptising someone may help something about your getting to mega church size, not sure what really, but I'm sure it could have some sort of effect on a congregation that could be construed as helpful in some way, but I am not so sure it is a good thing, it's not a God thing.

God can use a lot of things to get at His people. I'm not so sure we as God's people should use a lot of what we are using to "get at" folks.

I'm not sure most of the "modern church" nonsense is a good thing, much less a God thing. Much of what I am thinking about, that I have heard that the modern church is doing or practicing, sounds like the hypnotist, sounds like Madison Avenue, sounds like Simon the magician.


LindaSueBuhl said...

Glad you are home again and blogging - I find this entry more disturbing than most -we are going through a VERY dark valley about worship and where and all the craziness - truly simply want to walk with the Lord and do His good will - too tired to walk this morning so I won't delve deeper. Narrow is the way and few are chosen - more true the longer I observe.

jen said...

my son and his friend saw this for a minute~they were at it on Saturday night--the night we met you guys--and he did NOT like it.. I saw the van out in the parking lot and was amazed at the guys slogan.. The Psychological Evangelist .. weird, wrong and disturbing. BTW--my BS sistahs are starting an Esther bible study--am totally excited! :)

A. Joy said...

Before you even got to the part where you revealed it was a hypnotist, I knew you were going to say that. I've always thought that too. Those types of sermons ( well, music and pastor's voice combo ) always leave me feeling very uncomfortable and I never knew quite why. I think you've put your finger on it! A kind of hypnotic disconnected feeling.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

oh i DO know what you mean honey. scary stuff to me...

hugs, bee

Ted M. Gossard said...

Very interesting thoughts, Lanny. I've never witnessed such a service done by a hypnotist.

As to your thoughts here, I concur. Though I'm not versed anymore that much on what is happening in church services. I do think that differences can be a matter of culture. And I also tend to think that God uses certain things at certain stages of people's journey. Certain kinds of music.

But we have to get back to "brass tacks", or what is the "meat and potatoes" (which I hardly ever eat anymore) of the gospel, which God has called us to in Jesus in his word.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Was there any healing or biting off chickens heads or speaking in tongues? A hypnotist evangelist..strange, I suppose whatever draws a crowd now a days. :(

Eggs In My Pocket / Yesteryear Embroideries said...

Enjoyeed reading. I agree with you that God can use many different things to get our attention, but we always need to pray for discernment and for Him to give us knowledge that we are listening to HIM. We should all be aware of false prophets. Sometimes it is hard to know, but usually, your heart lets you know....I believe that I God, guiding us. Enjoyed visiting today, blessings,Kathleen

Lawstude said...

Amen to that. Have a nice day.