It's humbling to work with the array of talent that God has placed in St Silas'. Tonight was a startling example, with good musicianship, visuals and artistic expression leading our worship at the Carols by Candlelight service.
It struck me at the Embrace concert last night how many bands are using visuals as backdrops during their sets. Every gig I've been at this year has had them. Last night they had six guys with searchlights on stage, projected images behind them, and at one point, live video feed of the crowd. The Glasgow crowd is the best in the world, according to Danny, the lead singer, and they were certainly mental last night. Embrace's new material sounds great, now that the five members are writing together. In the mid-nineties, they were doing well, but two years ago they were on the dole. Last year I saw them in a wee hall in Stirling, and they are obviously amazed at their own massive comeback.
Younger people are familiar with such stuff, so they feel quite at home when they see it in church. The trouble for churches is it that it takes a huge investment in money and time to make such big and attractive events happen. Most simply don't have the resources, and those that do, will tend to draw people from other churches. We see a little of this effect in our church, which we resist.
We're committed as a church to develop an Ancient/Future faith, holding on to the historic tenets of the Christian message, whilst experimenting with how we present them. It makes for an experimental set up, where sometimes we get it wrong, but then sometimes it just works, like tonight.Too many churches are prepared to experiment with historic beliefs, but refuse to do anything with the presentation. This makes for a faith that appears out of touch with today's world. We've found sticking to a traditional faith, but having an openess to using technology and new music, has been something that God has blessed, so far.
So, the place was full, with many visitors present, which is what we hoped for, and I am thankful to the team who put it all together. I hope we pointed to Jesus in what we presented tonight.
Thank you, Lord, for your goodness to us!