Smoke, fog and haze rising from the stage, flashing lights and laser lights sweeping across the congregation…these are some of the elements we see in some of our worship services and churches today.
I have always appreciated the projection of lyrics and motion backgrounds on screens. Projection of lyrics ensures that everyone in the congregation can sing along while the worship is going on – even if they had never heard the song before. Motion backgrounds and images can also be helpful when used appropriately as it can help people visualise what they are singing about. The use of lights, smoke and other visual and stage effects are also helpful if they are used in moderation. It has taken me a while to get used to some of these “modern effects and technology”. Perhaps it is because I really do not see the relevance or because I have sometimes found it quite distracting. Maybe the entire idea has been taken a bit too far in some settings.
I can understand the use of such stage effects in concerts but I still struggle to understand its use in a church or worship service especially when it appears to be excessive. “Why do we need it, anyway?” I once asked a friend. “It helps to create an effect”, she told me. I was made to understand that the idea was to “enhance our worship experience” and “create an environment where people can connect with God”. In some cases, I was told that it was to attract young people – the millennials who are the future of tomorrow.
Why do we need flashing lights and smoke to help us connect with God? What sort of effect are we trying to create? Does that imply that churches which do not have such technology experience less of the presence of God in their services? Are we so focused on attracting young people that we are willing to send the older generation or those who are not comfortable with it out? These were some of the questions I found racing through my mind and I needed to be sure that I was not missing something.
People – both young and old should be attracted to our churches because of the love and fellowship they experience with God through His Holy Spirit and with other believers.
My understanding is that true worship to God should be in spirit and in truth and should be from the heart – with or without stage effects. I have been in some congregations where they only had the basics in terms of musical instruments and yet the worship was as deep and as heartfelt as you can ever imagine. Our focus should be on substance and not just on the sensation. We should have a deep desire for a life changing encounter with God not just the excitement and emotions that fizzle away as soon as the service is over and has no lasting impact on our lives. Such an encounter with God cannot be evoked with lights, fog and other forms of effects created by technology. The presence of the Holy Spirit should be evident in our services and it should not just be a performance. It sometimes feels like some of these “worship enhancing effects” have turned worship leaders into mere entertainers who exist only to stimulate the crowd. It is so easy to get carried away that we forget the reason we are there in the first place.
If the aim is to attract young people to our churches, we need to be careful not to create the impression that we are just about the music and effects. People – both young and old should be attracted to our churches because of the love and fellowship they experience with God through His Holy Spirit and with other believers. We should make every effort to play skilfully and make a joyful noise to God while offering Him our exuberant praise. However, we should be conscious of the fact that true worship is not in the music but in the heart. It is the presence of God that changes lives not the music and effects.
Whether we choose to use these effects in our churches during our regular services or for special events, I believe everything should be done with moderation. Our focus should also be on connecting with God from our hearts and not just enjoying the music and effects produced by technology.
Written by Foluso Aloko
Foluso is a Senior Consultant in ICT, with a passion to bring praise and glory to God, inspire, encourage and motivate others through music, service and creativity.
Written by: Steven Grimmer
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