super whitebread appeal

So what if I’m a year older?  I’m still the youngest dude I know.  Get off my back.

This Sunday we joined some friends at a church which, I think, fits the definition of a “mega-church.”  I’ve never really been to a church like that before, where the service is more of a production and the attendance is simply massive.  It wasn’t bad, but it was different.  I don’t know if the musical experience we had is typical of mega-churches, but it was certainly a spectacle.  A proper concert, with fantastic acoustics and a full band who rendered every contemporary song of praise in some affected Coldplay style: drums and keyboards and lead-guitar arpeggio descants over alt-rock 90s vocals.  Musically, it was quite enjoyable.  I love to watch people play instruments, especially fingers on fretboards; bonus for me there.

It occurred to me, though, that this kind of big-sound “alternative” church music might have an unintended consequence: a super whitebread appeal.  Looking around the auditorium as the lead singer with the choppy hair sang about salvation, my theory was at least anecdotally confirmed: the stadium seating looked like drifts of new-fallen snow, white upon white upon white.  I mentioned my thought to Sharaun after we’d left and she poo-poo’d me, saying that the congregation’s Aryan makeup was likely owed more to the local demographics than the style of music.  (Somehow, over the ten years we’ve been married, she’s gotten a lot better at making solid logical arguments like this; I blame myself.)  But still, I don’t exactly see the universal appeal in the styling…  Much like I might choose a different church if ours started doing all its hymns in the female-lead country ilk – imagine an all Dolly Sunday service; maybe perfect for some but certainly a turnoff for me.

Anyway, I don’t think my idea about the musical ties to congregational diversity are too far off base (I checked around on the Google first, to see if I was trippin’ – not so).  While the linked article doesn’t focus specifically on music as a divisor, I still hold that it could be one, or at least a contributor.  Maybe it’s not an easy thing to address… a “unified” rotation of musical themes seems to obvious and pandering: the alt-rock pierced-heart lung-fillers, some hip-hop hymns, then some Latino-infused cowbell-flared praisers.  I don’t envy you, mega-church “worship teams.”

Anyway, didn’t mean to write the whole thing about church but it just kinda happened.  Had a good time though; got some serious praise on with a gaggle of white folk.


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3 Replies to “super whitebread appeal”

  1. I’m not sure it’s so much a color of skin thing as a cultural thing. If you look at the predominately black churches, the music is just that. Not in the sence of rap, but soul. Big time clapping and swaying and lots of Amen’s. I agree with Sharaun. I don’t think it is the music that keeps certain people away, but the culture of the church.

    Good arguement though. And I’ve been curious to visit one of those churches. I enjoy the Life Teen mass that we have, and that’s only about 10%, if that, of this new wave band stuff.

    Have you checked out Ben Liles’s church? He’s got one of these ones you speak of.

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