March 18, 2006

We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise

King of endless worth / No one could express / How much You deserve

In lieu of leaving a long comment on James’s blog, I’ve opted to make my own entry. And just in time for Sunday.

In case you don’t believe in using a mouse when reading blogs, Collegian perspectives board member talked about how they don’t like chapel, chapel staff member responded on his blog, admissions staff member commented. Both articles are a little over-stated and opinionated, but that’s just the caliber of journalism the Collegian strives to bring to its readers.

I find contemporary worship unappealing entirely. But I do concede that it’s beneficial for certain people. Right now I’m trying to settle on a church, and it came down to two: Morning Star and Redeemer. Morning Star focuses more on worship, whereas Redeemer focuses more on the message. Btw: Tim Keller = hero of the moment.

Looking at all the pros and cons, even if the messages were exactly the same, I would still choose the “message-centered” church. Simply because contemporary worship, for me, is borderline nauseating. There is a lot of personal baggage that goes along with being a worship leader at school during a terribly trying experience at church. But even with all that aside, I know, deep down, that praise and worship is simply bad music. Not that hymns top my personal charts either, but I can’t help but silently notice the conundrum of a guitar strum in the middle of “When the music fade[strum]s,” or that I can cue a 43% increase of raised hands at the key change in Shout to the Lord, or that people are, genuinely or not, reduced to tears at what some dude named Bart “only imagines,” or that the longer we drag out [insert title here] it’s just going to sound more and more like Heart and Soul. I also can’t stand the insufferable use of apostrophes I’m forced to watch in projected PowerPoint: short’ning words of debatable syllabic value by taking out their vow’ls to ensure people made words like pow’r short enough for the tune

It takes a certain level of spiritual maturity to participate in worship like this, and I don’t know if I have more or less. All I know is I can’t, in good conscience, sing these songs and think that God’s happy about it. And I don’t want to attend a service where people look down on me for not closing my eyes and hopping with a silly grin on my face, poised to catch something bigger than a bread basket.

I never, not once, went to chapel before 9:30 and it wasn’t because I loved standing-room.

Which leads us back to Harbison. I was recently talking to a fellow graduate, and they expressed the utter liberation they’ve found in the real world after Grove City College. It wasn’t that they get to drink in their residence or that they could have people visit whenever they wanted. It was simply the fact that they wake up every morning knowing that they will never have to go to another chapel as long as they live. And this is another person who, like me, was never behind in attendance.

Chapel is failing to reach a lot of the students on campus, and it’s not the ones you would assume, like those seven people who are a minority in some way. There are genuine, faithful Christians who are feeling not encouraged and nourished but depleted and bitter about their faith strictly because of their time spent in Harbison.

And I think the problem is that there are key people who simply don’t get it. These are the people who think Clowns for Christ is a brilliant witnessing tool and that emails should be sure to express that it’s God’s will that I give a dollar for a beer glass and patio furniture. They have all the best intentions and carefully-laid plans, but the end result is a dud and many times they fail to notice.

In all of James’ accusations of Jared’s failure to see what Chapel is all about, he doesn’t really offer more than 17 minutes of exposure to a guest speaker / faith background. (And I think we can all understand his hesitance in offering Vespers as anything of value) As a tour guide, I, like our donkey friend, was trained to tell people that GCC encourages students to get involved at a local church. In the three and a half years I spent in western PA, the only decent church I found was much too far away to call it local. As a result, people are left without their church fix and have nowhere better to go, either because of mobility or finances, but ye olde cathedral. There’s a part of me that wants GCC to take more responsibility, to recognize the stagnancy of the surrounding town and to offer something better.

And my note to Jared: no, I don't think we need to sell Starbuck's in order to get people in, but it is important to avoid making church unapproachable, and throwing around terms like "Bible-thumping," and "den of theives" is, to everyone, off-putting.

Which brings us back to church for our end-of-the-post wrap up: There are genuine people out there who are searching, desperately, for people who get it. And I think it’s one of the only ways we can truly justify embrace our faith as an integral part of who we are. My main focus right now is being a normal person and a Christian at the same time. At GCC it was pretty much understood when I met people what both parties believed. Out in the real world, once people find out I’m a Christian I have to convey that I don’t think Ellen Degeneres caused Hurricane Katrina or that Eric and Dylan were out to make martyrs or that Harry Potter is the second beast of the Apocalypse. It's tough to convey that I am a genuine, kind, loving person who wants to offer more than just “have-you-ever-received-Jesus-Christ-into-your-heart-as-your-personal-Lord-and-Savior?” And I know that my church experience and my time at chapel hasn't helped any so far. But that I will hold onto for another time.

Comments on "We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise"


Blogger James said ... (12:00 AM) : 

No one is defending Clowns for Christ. No one.

Good post, Trey.


Blogger lvs said ... (12:58 PM) : 

I, too, shall comment on my own blog - because I love a good steaming religious pile of poo more than anyone!


Blogger The Quotable Hannah said ... (8:28 PM) : 

Thanks for bringing back horrific chapel memories I had successfully repressed.
Darn you. Darn you to heck!


Blogger laura said ... (11:13 PM) : 

I consider Clowns for Christ to be the scariest organization on campus. Possibly in Western PA.


Blogger k.o. said ... (7:44 AM) : 

my heart hurts. i was often restless at school and am still in the process of breaking free of my over developed sense of guilt and bondage. thanks for posting. also, clowns are just scary. not just the ones for christ...just in general. but back to the point!! i would have been far more inclined to go to chapel if it had not been required. forced worship? what? come experience the freedom of god or you don't graduate?


Blogger Donkey Patrol said ... (7:53 AM) : 

Dude Trey your blog is so much cooler than mine...and on top of that, I agreeeee with you (obviously). elucidate this for me though, seriously.

Your love oh Lord is better than life/better than life itself.

Honest to God I can't figure it out.


Blogger Trey said ... (4:08 PM) : 

For my dearest Donkey:

Your love, -
Solid start. Warm. Strong. Familiar.

oh Lord, -
Let’s remind HIM who we’re talking to (we really have to do this during prayer. God has a better time keeping up in song, but he’s still way old.)

is better than -
um… what’s a good thing?

life -

better than life -
People like repetition. That way it's easy to sing it along when it comes around the third time.
But it needs two more beats for the measure.

Itself -
That doesn't rhyme, but it doesn't have to. What's really important is focusing on my upcoming guitar solo.

*note - I don't know this song.

**note - I didn't have to.


Blogger Donkey Patrol said ... (4:57 PM) : 

Excellent exegesis. I'm coming to you for all of my song lyric interpretations from now on. Maybe you can also help me figure out which songs that I sing in church pertain to talking about how sweet Jesus is, and which pertain to how sweet it is to kiss my girlfriend in her mouth!!


Blogger Trey said ... (10:06 AM) : 

Two songs:

"Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus" is an obvious example of Jesus' sweetness.

For the most part, so is "You Alone." But when you get to the repitition of "I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive..." THAT's kissing your girlfriend in the mouth.


Blogger E.A.P said ... (6:55 PM) : 

Okay, I know this is kinda old, but please read this comment!

1) Wow, good post. Good thoughts, good writing.

2) Dr. T. David Gordon once used the banality and simplicity of contemporary worship songs to discuss how we should all be singing hymns and only hymns because only then could we worship in "spirit and in truth." MISSING THE POINT MUCH? I think you're right about those two worship choices having their pros and cons. Going to a traditional Episcopal church right now means I spend most of my time sight-reading and trying not to mess up the words. NOT QUITE WORSHIP EITHER. If I had my way, I'd just worship to perfectly-sung Renaissance chant. Like that's gonna happen!


4) Your bloggings, though rare, are lovely. I shall return more frequently. God bless you this week as you try to live as he commanded us not as the contemporary church would have us live.


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