The Work of the People is a Houston-based media company that produces short films, videos based on lectionary readings, and other visuals for worship. I always find their short films to be well-made and thought-provoking, and “The Worship Industry” is no exception. The video (free to download for the remainder of the month) features author Brian McLaren (A New Kind of Christian, A Generous Orthodoxy) discussing his concerns about consumerist behavior in the Church. McLaren sees the part of the problem as the use of propaganda, rather than art, in the worship experience. The difference, he says, has to do with honesty. He goes on to say, “How can we let ourselves be people of the God of Truth and rediscover truthfulness and honesty about our relationship with God?”
McLaren seems to be saying that it is not the use of media/art in churches that feeds the consumerist worship industry, but rather the authenticity of perspective of the media/art used. “If it’s a song, if it’s a painting, if it’s architecture, if it’s film that really is reaching for the truth, that’s where I think we experience God. But if we’re trying to market God like He is an infomercial it makes God seem less real.”
What are your thoughts on the video and the idea of the necessity of honesty in the media you use?
In the Church we often have concerns about how clean or doctrinally sound a piece of media is, but does that mean we value media that neglects a significant part of the truth about the human condition and relationship to God? I’m reminded of an interesting idea shared by author Lauren Winner at the Festival of Faith and Music, hosted by Calvin College (as quoted by Brett McCracken at relevantmagazine.com): “Art that doesn’t depict sin is ultimately false.”
Do you agree? If so, how does that change your approach to incorporating media into community worship at your church?