Monday, December 25, 2017

Video in Worship

We occasionally have short videos in worship, and tonight we had two. They always feel like an interruption to me. I recognise that this is largely cultural, and that most of our current culture is more comfortable with short videos than they are with more traditional parts of worship.  I am also mindful that making these videos is how my second son makes his living, so I had best not kick them too hard. Yet it is at least a partially theological point and not just generational preference, that worship is participatory and communal.  Watching a movie is an individual experience, even when in a tightly-packed crowd, and takes me out of the community into my own head.  I do that fine all week, thanks. I am also not doing any worship at that point, merely reciving a report of someone else's worship.  Or so it seems.  Perhaps others are deeply aware of their community while watching a video, and are in some sense interactive with it.

I have not experienced the growing style of worship where one preacher is broadcast to multiple campuses, each of which has its own worship otherwise, but I suspect it would be a tough adjustment for me.

Update:  It occurs to me that it might not be videos in general, but a particular subset of them that appeals to our worship director (and maybe most people) but not to me.  There may be some that I find enhance worship. The more I think about it, however, the more convinced that a video, even when shown to a group, remains an individual experience, as opposed to a live enaction somehow. That would also apply to recorded vs live music.  There is sometimes too much of an air of performance about it, which is worsened by bringing in a recorded choir or artist. Professionals can generally capture the exultation part better than whoever you have in your congregation.  But they can't come near the participatory, communal nature of worship. It may be that people seek exultation rather than community these days.


james said...

I can't escape the feeling that the announcer is talking to the camera. The "Stories of Grace" are illustrated with little scenes that nominally illustrate the life but don't tie in with what the person is saying. And the sermon is recorded too...

I wonder if preaching to a huge crowd has the same sort of vibe to it as a recorded sermon. In both cases, the preacher cannot be aware of you. He can be aware of the first few rows, and of the crowd as a whole, but not much more--unless a baby starts crying or someone keels over.

Texan99 said...

I detest recorded sermons, bible studies, and broadcast music about equally. Now and then our music director makes the awful mistake of jazzing up the choir with a little background orchestration. If anything, this seems to depress the natural musicality of the choir even more, so that they almost whisper along with the too-loud accompaniment, amateurs deferring to the professionals. It's like bad karaoke, which is a sham, because I do love some fun, fully participatory karaoke.

Honestly, too much church music sounds like everyone's on Valium these days. Even the choir are in danger of becoming passive audiences.

Texan99 said...

I meant above to be referring to "recorded bible studies" or lectures. As uncomfortable as a mediocre live discussion can be, sitting in a crowd in front of a TV screen is nearly unbearable.