I have begun reading Paul Jones’ Singing and Making Music, and so far doing so has brought me great joy and encouragement, though only about a fifth in. I found following remark to be especially penetrating. This quote comes from a chapter on clapping. Clapping (!). I was struck that he found this matter important enough that he would take the time to address it. I know that clapping is becoming all the rage in churches all over, both fundamentalist and broader evangelical, but this still struck me. He makes the point that I often strive to make here: that our worship is plagued and tainted by Entertainment, the Anti-worship.
As a society we applaud when we receive good news, hear a funny joke, or express appreciation. In fact, it has become so customary to clap that we instinctively applaud for almost anything we enjoy. Whe it comes to worship music, this response is most commonly witnessed at the end of a fast piece or one that concludes loudly and in a high tesitura. This is simply an unexamined carryover from the entertainment industry. We applaud in church because we have not though much aobut why we do so. Instead, we have allowed our culture’s response to entertainment to gain a place where it does not belong–worse yet, we have allowed entertainment itself a place in the church.
In fact, we demand it. We build large stages, elaborate sound and lighting systems, props and scenery for dramatic productions. We have darma teams, mime, sermon-by-skit, movies, and more. Some install theater-sized screens, put spotlights on the performers, have concession stands in the lobby, and overamplify both prerecorded and live band music in a service that is supposed to be about reverently approaching a holy God. We glamorize those with musical talent or dramatic gifts and allow the cult of celebrity to enter what should be a house of prayer. Pastors, musicians, and church leaders must address and change such things in their churches. If we do not, who can–or who will?*
*Paul S. Jones, Singing and Making Music: Issues in Church Music Today (Philipsburg, NJ: P&R Publications, 2006), 20-21.