Posted by Craig Borlase on 20 February 2015

do arrangements matter

In these days of selfie sticks and superfast culture shift, there’s a question to be asked about our arrangements. Do they matter so much? If we’re pinning our hopes on being able to sound relevant, don’t we just reveal how out of touch we are?

It used to be that shifts in culture occurred every couple of centuries; life-changing inventions like spinning wheels and electric lights appeared only when previous generations had died and their tombstones began to fade. Not now. Transformation arrives with every passing decade, and then some.

If sung worship is the intersection between culture and theology, then it stands to reason that for today’s batch of millennials - and those teenagers following them - the sound of our worship needs to be as fluid and fast in its change as the culture in which they live.

So, yes, our arrangements matter. They matter more than ever. We need to open the gates and embrace the new sounds like never before. We don’t need fewer new arrangements, we need more of them and we need them fast. This summer's worship sets need to sound wholly different to last summer's. If we are to connect with the world around us, we have to accept that sounding the way we did twenty years ago isn’t just dull, it’s insane.

Then again...

You know about the Greek myth of Narcissus, don’t you? The name is connected to the Greek word narcosis or numbness. Young Narcissus mistook his own reflection in the water for another person, numbing his perceptions until he became besotted with himself. The nymph Echo tried but failed to shake him out of it, but it was too late. He was numb.

Today’s obsession with self-image, self-promotion, self-declaration is only making an army of people numbed to the world beyond their screens. If we try to replicate the sounds of their culture in our sung worship there’s a good chance that many will just engage with it as they do any other mainstream pop act. Light shows, sick beats and the ability to sound like that bloke who did that song from that film that you really loved will only get us so far. We might sound great, but will it really be enough to break through the numbness. Arrangements matter, but not nearly as much as we think they do.

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