Visual Aids

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

This is something that has been bothering me lately. The idea that we always have to have an experimental type of worship. Lately it seems like I cannot go to any service and not have a visual prop or a interactive prop that the audience will take place in. At times these things are a good thing, but after a while it seems like we continue to fall into the rut of a formula or a routine. This summer at CIY we really had no crowd interactive type of worship, I said that bad, we really did not have anything that the crowd could come up and physically take part in. After the first week of conference we heard many complaints that there was nothing for the crowd to do and they really liked it when they could take part in the service. Every year that I have gone to CIY they have always had something to take part in. My first year there was a vase of water that you could go and wash your hands in, the next year there were prayer benches that you could write prayers on. So this year people go used to that routine and they wanted to have that routine again. I am one of those people who don’t like to go with the flow, I like to do things differently, and I like to change things up and keep things moving in a healthy and fresh direction. So the reason I am writing this is because so far this year every time at focus we have had something to take part in. I always feel pressured to do this. But a lot of the time I just feel like sitting there and thinking. I always hate when I feel pressured to go to focus and feel pressured to fall into the mold of everyone else. I am sometimes confused on this issue. My question to everyone is that am I wrong for feeling this way or not?

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Kyle Reed

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I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville
  • peters_r_d

    I don’t think your wrong, and in fact, I feel the same way a lot. I like to just sit down and take everything in sometimes. A lot of the time it actually helps me get focused, and then I’ll stand up and worship. I just feel like when I worship God it needs to be authentic and truthful. I’m not going to raise my hands because “thats what we do on that part of the song.”

  • tyler

    hmm, not everyone likes singing songs. It is good to offer a variety of worship for a variety of worshippers. Sometimes I get uncomfortable doing “other” worship things but probably because they force me to think deeper about my spiritual life. If I feel convicted, well that’s uncomfortable and I want to just sit and sing songs(which is easy).

    CIY – bad move not having physical forms of worship. Guess they really only want to entertain. CIY could use an overhaul.

  • Mandy

    I’m totally with you Kyle. I definitely like interactive forms of worship, but I also like things new and fresh.

    And maybe I’m way biased, but I really don’t think CIY’s goal is to entertain. In fact, I know it isn’t.

    I think some weeks were different than others…b/c there were a few interactive things we did in CO or GA that didn’t happen in IL.

  • Kyle

    I would agree that CIY is not into entertainment, but the way they do stuff sometimes produces the feeling of entertainment in the students that come. I think the reason for this is because the students don’t know how to responed and that is their culture. Constant entertainment. I just wish that things were not always the same. We don’t always have to have an prop to help relate worship.

  • kelsey

    i would have to agree with you on this. although, those things can be good for those people who like it. as for me, i dont like to feel like i have to do something just because everyone is doing it. as long as it is to give a variety, to those who want to worship in a different way. but i hate when it feels like you have to do something. that is when it’s wrong..hope that made sense. can’t really type what im thinking…

  • Jess

    I think that different people worship God in different ways, but I don’t think that visual aids or the types of things you are referring to are always necessary. I definitely agree with you on feeling pressured to take part in things at Focus and even in Chapel that I haven’t really wanted to. So, honestly, there have been times when I have abstained from taking communion because I didn’t feel right about it or abstained from other things because I didn’t want my motivation to be that everyone else was doing it and it seemed like the “right” thing to do. I also agree that if something “interactive” is always provided, that can become just as routine as singing or anything else. The key is balancing variety with routine, along with getting people to think outside of the traditional “worship” box. It kind of reminds me of what we were talking about today in Discipleship in a Postmodern World, about message and style along with relevance and irrelevance. What is important is the message and that the message is seen as more important than the style. That is not to say that the style is not important, but it should not supersede the message.

    As far as CIY goes, I have never been to CIY, so I can’t have an opinion on that. :)

  • kirk

    yeah kyle you are wrong

    just kidding dude, I like you, and your words, sing to me brotha. I find visuals and interactives to be very helpful to some people and very distracting to others. I have had an attitude lately of it doesnt matter, we are all messed up in our worship and preferences of worship because we are fallen and well pretty messed up. Ruts are easy to fall in, we get comfortable, that is good and bad. We are funny with our worship you know, the church big C thinks that singing is worship and that there are only a few other ways to worship, that makes me sad. I am a musicain and a worshipper so obviously music and singing most of the time is my favorite way to worship but I know some people that have no musical ability at all, they hate that about church, they have to come in and sing, sometime I dont like to sing either.

    my comment may make sense, sorry if it dosnt.

  • Andrew Stout

    Kyle, I tend to agree with you. As a matter of fact, I would even go farther than what you are saying. The whole idea of visual props used during worship or “interactive” features used to “engage” worshipers is extremely troubling to me. I believe that images, visuals, object lessons, etc., are great in and of themselves, but when they become a part of our worship of God as a congregation, we have a problem. God does not present us with an image of Himself to be worshiped. Any image that we would try to create of God would be terribly misleading. However, he does give us a Word, the Gospel, the Good News! This Word is to be proclaimed and responded to with gratitude toward God. I am troubled that so many people seem disatisfied with worship of an invisible God revealed through Christ and through His Word. Instead, many want images and pictures that stir up certain emotions that seem to be synonymous with worship. I believe that this is a dangerous position to be in, and one that does not take seriously the warnings against certain forms of idolatry. When Aaron gave the Israelites the golden calf to worship, he was not giving them a diffent god. He was attempting to portray a certain aspect of God’s strength and power. However, this image could in no way do God justice. If we attempt to tailor the “worship experience” to the sensibilities of each individual, then soon we will have no room to worship the unchanging God in the manner in which he has mandated. We will no longer be worshipping in spirit and in truth, but instead we will, by attempting to bring God to the level of visuals to which we can relate, rob God of His mystery and of His glory. Instead, let us continue to proclaim the clear Gospel of Christ and respond in prayer and in song without attempting to reinterpret God in our image.

  • Gavin Deakin

    Interesting post and comments. I think it comes down to our understanding of what worship is . Paul tells us in Romans

    ‘I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercies, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship’ .

    Every moment is an opportunity to give God glory (worship). When we gather together we are called by God to stir one another to life of worship. To some (Stout) liturgical ’worship’ is of great benefit, to another interactive ‘worship’ stirs the soul.

    I believe that many times postmodern worship services would be better described as godly entertainment. When I find myself in these types of services, my greatest act of worship is not being critical .

  • Kyle

    I like that last thing you said. I find myself being very critical of everything and everyone. Great point

  • tush

    I would just like to say this, a comment is usually one sentence long…no more no less, thank you.

  • Gavin Deakin

    Who died and made Tush blog King?

  • Andrew Stout

    Everyone needs to load up Tush’s comment page with paragraphs of comments. This second sentence in simply being written so that there will have more than one, so take that Tush!

  • tush

    I am the creator of the blog…well ok so I’m not, but wouldn’t it be cool if I was?

  • dsm

    Gad to see you guys are struggling with this. My only desire is that we don’t become traditionalist and the generation behind you has to start the worship fight over again.

    Good thoughts guys!

  • tyler

    …and now, some more.

    1. CIY is all about routine. The program has remained unchaged for at least 10 years. It is the same as when i went as a freshmen in highschool. Only difference…they are more “slick.”

    2. if you remove other avenues for expressing worship, you are limiting people to simply watch and/or sing.

    3. gavin. amen on your comments about worship. thnx.

    4. stout, i’m a little usure about your “take” on Isreal’s sin…they thought moses was a goner, so they asked for new gods. Aaron even announced to them that the idols were the gods that brought them out of egypt. Interesting thoughts tho, i’d like to explore your idea some more. thanks.

    5. Kyle, i love you man.