August 11, 1999


Postmodern worship must engage the senses
___By Ken Camp
___Texas Baptist Communications
___WACO--Meaningful worship for the postmodern generation engages the senses and dialogues with the culture, according to Generation X church planter Chris Seay.
___Seay, founding pastor of Waco's University Baptist Church and now pastor of Ecclesia Christian Community in Houston, led a seminar on "Worship in a Postmodern Context for a New Generation" during the Texas Baptist Church MusiConference.
DONEVA MCPHETRIGE and Tania Overton, both from South Park Baptist Church in Alvin, learn how to make handmade musical instruments for children's choirs as part of the Church MusiConference in Waco. (Photo by Ken Camp)
___The church music department of the Baptist General Convention of Texas sponsored the conference July 26-28 at Baylor University.
___Seay characterized modern thought as linear and scientific, grounded in Western rationalism and focused on the individual. Postmodernism is experiential and holistic, values mystery and Eastern thought and emphasizes the role of community.
___"Christianity and Westernism have become so synonymous that we don't know how to untangle them," he said. "As long as we are tied to Westernism, we are going to sink with it."
___The postmodern generation hungers for spirituality, Seay said. He cited a survey revealing that 99.4 percent of MTV viewers profess a strong belief in God.
___Christianity needs to reclaim its Eastern, Hebraic roots or it will lose postmoderns to Buddhism, Hinduism and Eastern philosophies, he added.
___"There's a strong spiritual current driving our nation, and we're not even in the same stream," Seay said.
___Christianity needs to avoid the twin perils of becoming indistinguishable from the larger culture or divorced completely from it, he said.
___Worship leaders should take their cue from the Old Testament prophet Daniel, Seay advised. Daniel studied the pagan philosophies of Babylon until he was "10 times better than all the magicians" in Nebuchadnezzar's court. But he risked martyrdom rather than compromise biblical standards.
___Music ministers should become serious students of contemporary culture, but they should pray for discernment, Seay suggested. "Understand the culture. Every music pastor should read Rolling Stone."
___Seay said his churches rarely have used drama or "special music" because the postmodern generation wants to experience worship, not watch a performance.
___"There's no reason to put on a show for them," Seay said. "This generation is longing for a true worship experience."
___Music is the language of the postmodern generation, and members of that generation are interested in a worship experience that involves all the senses--sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.
___A holistic worship experience may involve the use of incense, poetry readings and meditation on works of art by members of the faith community, along with music that involves all of those who worship, he said.
___Musicians in the churches he has served write much of their own music, creating new settings for historic hymns and prayers from ancient and medieval sources.
___"The answer is not to be contemporary. The answer is to be historical," he said. "Believe it or not, Christianity existed before Martin Luther. Look to the desert fathers."
___At the postmodern churches he has served in Waco and Houston, the talents of gifted artists and musicians are valued highly, he said.
___"The artists have the power," Seay said. "Truth is embodied through community, art and music."


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