Wednesday, September 22, 2004

A petty rant

Yesterday there was a panel discussion with three faculty members as part of the welcome activities. One of the faculty members attends (or attended) a church I used to go to, and I had always thought he was a bit arrogant. He came off a little better during the panel, and I thought it wise to give him another chance.

But one thing he said bothered me, which was that the church needs to stop having petty arguments amongst its members. I get his point, and his example was a silly one (what musical instruments to use) that hopefully would not split a church.

But I wondered: how is one supposed to tell what is a petty argument? What is petty to one woman is, to another, a salvation issue, or a real worship block, or at the least something that makes her uncomfortable while she is trying to find God. I don't think we should discount those feelings.

Like, for instance, my rant about the music used in church. I should clarify a bit: I can deal with the rock-n-roll, even like it; I am more bothered by the lack of care which goes into worship planning. This is well explained in Robert Webber's book Worship is a Verb, so I won't go into it here. Suffice to say that as a person who is particularly interested in liturgy (whether a church calls it that or not), I am distressed by the seemingly random way that much music, and other worship events, are chosen throughout a church service.

So although it seemed to the faculty member that his example of musical instruments was benign, in fact it was something that, when really thought about, can become an issue. Not that I think we should be creating issues in the church. But I also think that the church is the best, safest place for us to debate things--if it is done with respect and openness. It should never be a place where everyone agrees. Unity doesn't mean agreement.

And also it bothers me that he used this example as if everyone in the room agreed upon the "right" way to do things (or agreed that arguing about this topic is silly). From what I have seen of singing opportunities so far at school, there is a particular way of doing things - with the rock band, and the soft-pop style, and the modern rhythms (most annoying on hymns) - that is supposed to be acceptable to all. I haven't heard them even trying to do anything differently yet.

But of course, there are many chapels to come, and many opportunities. I hope to see more diversity in the worship experience - and not just diversity within the boundaries of what is accepted for evangelicals.

No comments: