Concert Hall versus Music School

Two weeks ago, while at the Festival of Homiletics in Denver, Colorado, the guys behind the amazing Pulpit Fiction Podcast were able to sit down with David Lose, president of Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Prior to being president, Lose was a preaching professor and the creator of the Working Preacher website.

I highly recommend the whole interview, however one quote in particular from Lose stood out:

“What [people] need is a church to be less like a concert hall and more like a community music school. A concert hall, you come for great performances, and we’re great at that in the church- we preach, we do great music, we do it all. And our people are ‘audience’ all too often. Music schools also have great performances, but that’s not why you choose them. You choose them because you want to learn how to play.”

More and more, we have seen the church try to become more attractive by becoming “better.” We strive for excellence. We do so to honor God and be good stewards of what we have been given, but there is also the underlying motivation that the better the show, the bigger the crowd. So, we have invested in tech and equipment, we have practiced and polished, we scheduled services down to the second…

In doing so, however, we have built and reinforced the show aspect. We have instilled the active leader, passive audience dynamic. I don’t need to expound on this as it is something you have doubtless read many other places if not experienced yourself.

What I love about Lose’s perspective is that it allows for excellence while reinforcing the true purpose of the church. We should put work into our sermons and our music and our facilities and the planning of the worship experiences, but the church exists to make disciples. The performances that music schools put on are to delight and entertain, but they are also to highlight the place and process through which you can learn to join in.

Header image by Flickr user woodleywonderworks. Used under Creative Commons License. Edited from Original.

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