Wednesday, November 06, 2013


Making The Important Trival

Jon Acuff:
Recently I spoke at an event where they did “traditional” worship music. What does that mean?

There aren’t lasers, and you don’t sing “Blessed be your name.” That’s about it. Cleared that up pretty quickly. You’re welcome.

But, during this classic worship, we did something I’ve missed for years in modern approaches. The echo.

Remember that?

When I was a kid, the best part of worship was when the guys and the girls would part ways. The men would sing a verse, and the women would echo or vice versa.

We used to always do this on the song “All in All.” Man, oh man, we echo chambered that song like a boss. Nowadays, though, the echo is considered as old-fashioned as the phrase “Sunday School.” (What are you, Amish?)

My biggest regret, though, is that as a kid I always thought it would be awesome to have someone echo the words I said. I wanted someone to travel with, me just quietly echoing everything I said. Can you imagine how great that would be?
I know, it's Acuff's schtick to be irreverent and funny and all that, but the cynicism there is dripping and I find it problematic. What he is doing here is reducing important questions to trivial questions with his "humorous" treatment of them. Ley me break this down a bit.

The difference between "contemporary" and "traditional" worship is about much more than simply music choice and technology. If that is all you change, where I come from that is called "blended" worship. Nay, the differences are in the order and structure of worship and the place of sacrament. These are things that establish a narrative, a tone, and a way of thinking for the participant in the service. Form matters.

His dismissal of "echoes" is extraordinary. It is a cousin of the responsive reading, also now considered the stuff of antiquity. Yet what these are really are not just forms of media - they are teaching tools. The echo is a way of teaching music when people cannot read words or music. The responsive reading is a technique for memorization. Even in this hyper-literate, media savvy age, those are worth something. Few people memorize scripture anymore. And when they do it is short phrases, sometimes less than a verse, not the extended passages of responsive readings.

I will not go on and on about this. Suffice it to say that we need to be careful about what we treat lightly. Sometimes there are reasons for things.


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