A column in a British newspaper sings the praises of a female vicar in England for leading a flash mob dance in church at the conclusion of a wedding. The columnist suggests that if there is going to be anyone in the pews in 50 years that the Church needs to revamp its worship to include this kind of fun and spontaneity.
What the columnist fails to recognize is that there is a vast difference between worship and entertainment/amusement. If you watch the video (I must admit I could not get through it all) you will notice a number of things. A sacrament has just been completed in consecrated space and suddenly secular music overtakes the space and the wedding turns into a party. Parties are wonderful. I love a party, but parties are what you do in the parish hall or in your home or at the lodge. Sacred space should be kept sacred. There is a time and place for everything but that was neither the time nor the place. You will also notice that a couple of women had the good sense to get up and walk out when the foolishness began.
The Vicar drug the golden calf of amusement into the church and this we are told is how we are to attract people. But if we draw people into church through amusement, then the only way to keep them will be to keep them amused. Ironically “amusement” comes from the Latin and it literally means “to stare stupidly.” That is not the Church’s calling. Jesus’ command to the Church was that we are to teach and make disciples. We are supposed to help and inspire people to take up their cross and follow Him. The argument the Church needs to be more entertaining is like telling a School Board that school would be more popular if there were more recesses and less classes. That is true, but that is not the mission of the school.
But even more grievous than turning a house of prayer into a party zone is the theology behind what they are doing, even if they are doing it unawares. To go from a sacrament that reflects Christ and His Bride to dancing down the aisle to grinding secular music, is to shift from the worship of God to the celebration of self. The Vicar clearly drew attention from God to herself, saying by her actions, “Look at me, aren’t I hip and cool?”
When we replace the worship of God with the celebration of self, we are on the thin ice of lake blasphemy. Jesus said that we are to worship God in spirit and truth. Worship is about Him. God is our focus, not how much fun we are or are not having. It is a spiritual seduction to replace spirit filled worship with soulish enjoyment.
We know from the Gospels that Jesus enjoyed a good party. His first miracle was turning water into wine and some called Him a drunkard and a glutton. Others were offended by the company that He kept. So while we can easily picture Jesus feasting at someone’s home it would take an impossible stretch of the imagination to picture Him leading a flash mob in the Temple in order to attract followers. If anything I could see Him showing up to the Vicar’s parish with a whip in hand to return it to a house of prayer.