Lessons from an unexpected source

In previous entries, I’ve talked about going to raves and all that happened as a result. I’ve commented on the sense of community I felt; no one cared about where I came from, my sexuality, my status, nothing like that. Instead I was simply embraced as a fellow raver, a common cause united us. I’ve often said the church can learn from raves on this front.

Not surprisingly, I’m not the only person to make such comparisons. Couple of months ago, I read a piece by Chris Wooden and he touched on the strong sense of community as well. What was interesting about his piece, is that he went further. Raves, by their nature, are loud and full of lights and lasers. It is pure adrenaline entertainment, a chance to leave behind everything for the time the rave starts to the time it ends. Chris though, finds similarities with the church on that front that aren’t so inspiring:

One: Both congregations show up to recharge their respective souls after debilitating, demeaning, and depressing workweeks, fueling the consumerist mentality that many have.

Two: Both crowds tend to easily get caught up in the sheer emotion of their experiences, using the venues as cathartic emotional waste disposal sites, opting to neglect true emotional health.

Three: Both ravers and worshipers alike gather together to fulfill the lack of community in their Monday-Friday lifestyles, a somewhat shallow approach to true community.

Four: Many in both groups find spiritual meaning in what they do on the weekends, ignoring the spiritual ramifications once the calendar page flips back to Monday.

Five: Both offerings allow their participants to escape the realities of day-to-day life, leaving individuals feeling helpless against growing problems when the party is over.

Six: You can be part of a larger gathering of like-minded people while staying anonymous if you so choose, an empty way of saying you are part of something without, you know, actually being a part of something.

I’m not adverse to lights, lasers, loud music and sense of a party when it comes to worship, but it is shallow fancy dress without a true community under pinning it. It’s all about community, but a community with a purpose. Chris calls into question the reasons why people go to church, I’ve written about how much I’m struggling with the concept of church at the moment and the 2 may have very similar reasons. I like to express myself fully, fast & energetic music lets me do that physically but the community lets me do that intellectually and my heart expresses itself in both, all which is aimed at God and working for him.  Jesus brought people, together, he didn’t go alone. He didn’t ask questions about his disciples backgrounds, all he asked was they follow him; not just on a Sunday morning but 24/7/365.

The church does seem to have gotten distracted with the pretty lights and lost focus on the fellowship and its mission. Fellowship is not just about having company, it’s about sharing experiences, troubles, moments of joy and praying together for all of it. Fellowship and friendship go very much hand in hand and I’m not friends with people because they are like me, it’s because they are like them. Christ wants relationship with us, we go as we are and he works with us to change us.  Too many barriers are being put up by the church, it has become cliquey and exclusive, bordering on needing membership criteria similar to a golf club; you must reach certain levels to join. That’s simply not the church Christ had in mind; heal the sick, feed the hungry and welcome everyone. Simply having a good time is no replacement for that.

A few people may be going “but what about the drugs and the drink etc” Well not every raver did any of those things and whilst it has its faults, it doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from them. As Chris concluded;

…”the unfortunate reality is there is a big lesson we can learn from the rave scene; they let anyone walk in and feel welcome without regard to their background, baggage, or upbringing. I’d rather see the Church steal this concept than the cool light shows.”

I’m not sure if its unfortunate, but it is a reality.

For Chris’s full post, see http://recoveringskeptic.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/the-weekenders-6-reasons-why-church-is-the-new-rave/

First published 11th July 2013

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