You may have already seen this video as it made its way through the blogosphere within the last few weeks. It was produced by the media team at North Point Community Church for the Drive 2010 conference and “was meant to be a funny, shallow perspective at programming Sundays and ‘what really goes on’.”
It’s a good-natured and well-made video (though almost too similar to both “Academy Award Winning Movie Trailer” and “How To Report The News”) and as someone who used to work “behind the scenes” on a church worship team, there were parts of it that really hit home.
I remember all too well the struggle to make a Sunday morning worship service involving and yes, even entertaining, for hundreds of churchgoers without it becoming cheesy and contrived or watering down the presentation of the Gospel. It’s a fine line, and personally, it was one that I became tired of walking. It led to a great deal of cynicism about church in general and was one of the main reasons why I found myself increasingly drawn towards more “traditional/liturgical” services that stripped away many of the trappings of so-called “contemporary” worship for something a bit simpler. (I realize that may sound a tad arrogant and self-righteous, which is not my intent.)
All of that is to say that I found myself ultimately having mixed reactions to the video, particularly because I wasn’t quite sure about the point to it all. It’s intended as a “funny, shallow perspective,” but to what end? Most of the reactions that I’ve seen to the video have been Christians treating it as a sort of inside joke, an opportunity to laugh at our foibles. But again, I ask, to what end?
Brett McCracken, whose views on modern Christianity are always interesting, recently posted an analysis of the video. He writes:
Clearly the video hit home with many evangelicals, because it so aptly captured the decidedly un-cool/formulaic/lame nature of the average evangelical “wannabe cool” church today. Evangelicals laughed and passed it around in droves because they could collectively identity and purge their shame of having been associated with such ridiculousness. It allowed people to point a critical finger at something both familiar and “other,” while simultaneously allowing them to derive a satisfied sense of “we have moved on from that now” elitist amusement.
In his article, McCracken links to an article by Bill Kinnon, who is particularly critical of the video.
Rather than comedy, the above video from Andy Stanley’s* North Point Church’s very well-equipped media department should really be seen as simply admitting the truth of something that won’t be changing anytime soon in that world. No doubt, some churches will even use it as a teaching tool for their teams who aspire to megachurch greatness.
In the past couple of days, Twitter has been filled with the “wink, wink, nudge, nudge, nod, nod” tweet response to this video (which went up on the 5th of May).
The “isn’t it great we can make fun of ourselves” response of many made me want to pick up my laptop and toss it across the room (into a stack of pillows so it wouldn’t be damaged, of course.)
People mistakenly want to call this “satire.” But the definition of satire is the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices.
Do any of you really think the North Point media team meant to expose the “stupidity or vices” of their Christotainment Sunday morning services which no doubt follow the very pattern shown in the video?
I have no doubt that North Point created the video with good intentions, and by no means am I trying to cast doubt on their faithfulness and desire to serve God. But the more I reflect on the video, the more I find myself leaning towards Kinnon’s reaction.
It’s “inside joke”-iness, as well as the irony of a video poking fun at hip, slickly produced worship services being made by a church that does hip, slickly produced worship services ultimately doesn’t sit right with me. And it reminds me all to well of what drove me to a cynicism towards the Church that lasted for several years.