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.