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Part 3 of 3 in the series The Message of the Stage

empty-stage-new

In this series, we’re applying the concept “the medium is the message” to our modern church services. Last time I covered some recent church history and told you about some changes we made to our services at The Meeting House. This post will wrap up things up with some practical advice.

If you’ve stuck with me this far, I’ll assume you agree there’s tension between between the form and the content of a modern church service. A room set up like a rock concert sends a message that’s a least a tad out of alignment with Jesus’ humility and self-sacrificial love. But, as I’ve already hinted, I’m not ready to throw the whole thing away.

Under the Old Covenant, worship had a particular form based around tabernacle and temple. But, under the New Covenant, the gospel spread faster than any cultural form could keep up with! It’s no surprise that, after a few years, the early Christians backtracked to hash out some of the cultural implications of a movement that was rapidly losing touch with its Jewish roots. If you want to read up on the history, have a glance at Acts chapter 15.

I believe God can reach anyone precisely where they’re at, and He’s not afraid to roll up His sleeves and get His hands dirty. So I don’t believe there’s any disqualifying style or form of doing church. But that’s not the same as saying the form doesn’t matter. I believe it matters a lot. Continue Reading…

Part 2 of 3 in the series The Message of the Stage

 

©2013 Joss Monson

©2013 Joss Monson

In this series, we’re applying the concept that “the medium is the message” to our modern church services. Last time I said that every form of communication has an embedded message that can’t be separated out. The challenge is that we get used to our forms of media and start to think our content is all we’re communicating to our audience.

According to Jesus “… all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11) So I think it’s fair to ask the question – do our stages, lights and cameras exalt us or humble us? Remember, we’re not talking about content yet, just the message inherent to the form of communication. I think it’s practically a rhetorical question: by their nature, stages, lights and cameras exalt people. So, if we’re teaching people about Jesus from the platform, there is going to be a real tension between the form of communication and the content.

So is that it, then? Should we knock down our stages, turn off all the lights and dress in giant brown paper bags? As much as I would love a career shift to the fast-food industry (my only other real option) I do have some ideas to share.

But first a history lesson. Continue Reading…

Part 1 of 3 in the series The Message of the Stage
© 2013 Joss Monson

© 2013 Joss Monson

I’m often asked why we don’t use _________ at the Meeting House. Why no moving lights or haze? Why don’t we use video backgrounds or show camera shots of the band? It’s a great question. I mean, we are a fairly big church with modern and relevant services. If technology is just a tool, shouldn’t we have the best tools possible? And we own lots of these tools already, so why don’t we use them “to their full extent”?

I’d like to challenge the notion that technology is “just a tool”. It is a tool, yes, but I believe it’s much more than that. It is a form of communication – a medium. This brings to mind Marshall McLuhan’s famous expression, “the medium is the message.”

McLuhan was at the leading edge of media theory when network broadcasting was booming in the 1960s and he predicted the World Wide Web decades before it became a reality. McLuhan taught that the form of communication is imbedded in the message and can’t be separated out. Whether it’s speech, braille or 3D movies we need a form of media to communicate content. And media is not neutral – each form comes with its own message.

Think about these examples: Continue Reading…