Entertainment Versus Emotion
Last week I took my wife to a concert. No, it wasn’t gospel or contemporary Christian music. In some ways it was better than that.
I took her to see Sugarland, a country music group. Here is a video of one of the group’s more popular songs:
I have been to several concerts over the years and most of them have been of the Christian music persuasion but I have come to the conclusion that I prefer secular music concerts over Christian concerts. And here is why:
- Christian concerts confuse me. The performers (and that is what they are) appear to be on stage to entertain me and that confuses me because their music is about worshiping Christ…. right? But, hey, where else can you hear “Amazing Grace” followed up with “Jeremiah was a bullfrog”?
- Christian concerts goers in my experience (which is limited to controlled, indoor, arenas and light rock, country, or gospel music) look and act similarly as those I see in secular venues. Of course, the secular attendees usually need the assistance of liquid reinforcement to really start ‘getting into the music’. But I see the same skin-tight blue jeans and halter tops at either type of event. I know, I know.. that is judgmental of me. But at least I am not confused by the reasons the lost lady at the Neil Diamond concert wants to highlight her cleavage for the rest of the world to see.
- Social Justice interludes and Gospel-Lite. Anymore, when I attend a ‘gospel-centered’ concert, I am pretty sure that I am going to have to sit through an info-commercial on some form of social justice and I am pretty much guaranteed that I will hear one of the worst renditions of a ‘gospel-presentation-bow-your-head-say-a-prayer-welcome-to-the-club-I-mean-family’ that can be made. I was at a concert earlier this year where the people of the church I attended with went through the motions that the speaker on stage was directing the crowd through and they didn’t know until afterward that they had just been ‘resaved’. They were probably in good company because 80% of the crowd that night was standing when the speaker asked how many had prayed to accept Jesus into their hearts. Makes me wonder why so many lost people decided to buy a ticket to a gospel concert.
- Finally, the entertainment factor. When I attend a secular concert, I know that I have paid to be entertained. I know the people on stage are there to entertain me. And I am ok with that because that is why I bought the ticket. But… there are moments in the concert when the entertainer connects with the crowd on a different level. Like the video above, sometimes emotion comes through and that emotion connects people together. It goes beyond entertainment and becomes a shared experience. I saw it happen when the crowd at the Sugarland concert sang the song from the video above along with the entertainer. I don’t mean to make it sound like this doesn’t happen at a gospel concert, because there are times that it does, but where it appears to be a bonus at a secular concert, it becomes a question at a gospel event. The question – isn’t the whole purpose of gospel events supposed to be about worship? Maybe I am wrong in that assumption which could be the basis for my confusion. I wonder if God is confused as much as I am about Christian concerts.
I titled this post ‘Entertainment Versus Emotion’ because there is something vastly different about the two approaches to connecting with people. One seems to be about ‘I want to make you feel good’ while the other is more about ‘I want to share myself with you’. Maybe you will disagree with me, but the video I posted above is a good example of the latter.
If you are a performer or maybe even a worship leader in a church somewhere, let me ask this question: Do you want to entertain the listener or connect with them?