How Far is This Bon Jovi Stage Performance From Modern Evangelical Worship?


The other night I was listening to YouTube and I watched a Bon Jovi performance on stage. It got me to ask the question how far was this concern performance from modern evangelical worship? The only thing that was missing is the smoke machine but otherwise it wasn’t far off from what I have experienced in past evangelical settings. 

“God wants worshipers before workers; indeed the only acceptable workers are those who have learned the lost art of worship.

A.W. Tozer

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;

Psalm 95:6 NIV

Picture I took of worship at Fairfax Community Church in the Washington, D.C. area in 2013 

Bon Jovi

The other night I was plugging away and doing some research for a post. In the background I had YouTube playing at a low volume since it was late. As i was listening my ears picked up Bon Jovi song and I studied the video up above. A band singing on stage, drums and people doing their thing. And as I watched the video I had the thought…how far is this from modern evangelical worship? And I realized its not far. 

 

Worship as a Performance 

I have been to way to many worship services in my life. The same is true for retreats and conferences. Elegant electric equipment and microphones galore. For years I liked it but in time I began to realize that modern worship is basically an act.  And a piss poor one that is maybe C grade at most. You often have a bunch of people all around the ages of 20’s and 30’s usually. They have modern light shows  and people in denial trying to be hip. The worship leader jumping up and down pretending they are Jimi  Hendrix. They are often wearing leather form what I have seen and are attempting to live their high school dream from the talent show. And actually the only thing that is missing from that Bon Jovi video up above is the smoke machine which I have seen in some mega church worship services. 

 

Manipulation of Worship Tactics 

Much of evangelical worship is also manipulation of your emotions as well. You are singing, clapping and basically having a sexual orgasm to the music and your endorphins are going off in your band. I remember some worship nights in conferences or charismatic churches that were so emotional that people were crying on the ground. Forgive the analogy it was almost as if they had attempted to have sex with the music in that they were so emotional. It seems that some parts of evangelicalism play on your emotions. This is done when some churches are trying to get you to give up secular rocks or music in the same process. I heard stories of some evangelicals who had that born again experience and destroyed their Rolling Stones or Def Leopard albums and then would get caught up in sub par cheesy worship band music. Does that make sense? One of the topics that bothered me about evangelicalism at times as I reflect back on it is how it played with your emotions. In all likelihood you were in a vulnerable time in your life and then along you get sucked into an evangelical worship service that plays off your needs and fears. Is that how it should be done?

 

Why Go to a Worship Service When You Can See Bon Jovi or the Rolling Stones? 

So here is what I do not understand. Many evangelical churches it seems try to copy the world and how they do things. I find this peculiar especially as some are teaching not to be like the world. That just comes across as problematic for me. But when you see what some evangelicals accept why do they accept the C grade subpar performance then the real thing? To quote from C.S. Lewis why make mud pies when you can play in a resort next to the ocean?  For years I was engrossed in evangelicalism and never saw these issues, whereas today I very much do. But when you look at the performance aspect that exists why settle for a church band when you can enjoy the likes of Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Green Day and so many other bands? Its like why eat junk food when you can have a feast and something far more healthy and nutritious? This is going to be brief but I needed to get this said. It popped up on me last night. 

11 thoughts on “How Far is This Bon Jovi Stage Performance From Modern Evangelical Worship?

    • It is.
      However, the Christanese knockoffs are Godly.

      That’s something that’s burned me for years; Cheezy Christianese knockoffs of EVERYTHING in pop culture, usually starting about the time the REAL pop culture thing jumps the shark.

      I’ve been involved in one form or another of F&SF fandom since 1975. And I noticed that the Christianese versions are LAME. From Poul Anderson and Cordwainer Smith to “Flame Tree Planet” and Left Behind. You lose something in comparison. ANd why?

      Guilt. Oh sure, you used to like listening to Christina Aguilera, but now you are a Christian, so you listen to BarlowGirl, not because you like their sound or their lyrics, but you would feel guilty listening to and enjoying Christina Aguilera now that you have been saved. You used to love reading science fiction by Orson Scott Card and Ursula K. Le Guin, but now you read Left Behind. You used to go study the works of Van Gogh, but now you look at a picture of a pasty-white Jesus knocking on someone’s door.

      Are you enjoying your new choices in art? No, not really. But you would have a terrible feeling of guilt if you continued to consume that which you previously enjoyed. After all, if you like something, it has to be wrong, right?
      — Internet Monk, “Selling Jesus by the Pound”, https://internetmonk.com/archive/selling-jesus-by-the-pound

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  1. …The concern is the subject matter: If it’s secular, it’s of the Devil and tells you to have sex etc. etc. And maybe has backmasking as well. If it’s Christian, well, it’s blessed of God. (Or it’s also Devil Music because of the 4-4 beat, depending on which flavor of fundamentalism you’re in.)

    The manipulation of modern worship music is the very thing that sparked the questions that led to me ultimately going Byzantine. I couldn’t stand being told to clap and do silly motions and wave my hands to manipulative and trite music. Also, as an introvert well into my 20s, the very idea felt childish.

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    • I remember Fritz Leiber’s Gather, Darkness!, about a dystopian religious dictatorship using technological priestcraft “miracles” to keep control over its populace. One was “Parasymp Organ” music, whose rhythm and tones were engineered to subliminally manipulate emotions to keep the peasants Faithful obedient livestock.

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    • …The concern is the subject matter: If it’s secular, it’s of the Devil and tells you to have sex etc. etc.

      Once again, the Nymphomaniacal Obsession with Pelvic Issues.

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  2. A couple of things:

    I’ve seen Bon Jovi in concert twice in Seattle back in the 80’s. When I was in the US Navy, shore duty in Bremerton, Wa, my office was just across from the parking lot of the onbase Ticket Master. I’d have my radio on at my desk, and when a concert was announced, I would run right over to ticketmaster. I saw the likes of AC/DC (3 times), Pink Floyd to Bruce Springstien, Elton John, to Heart, Def Leopard (TWICE) to Rush, etc. I was a concert going dude. BIG TIME!

    That being said, I’ve also been to NUMEROUS Christian concerts as well. I’ve seen the Newsboys 3 times, and every year, there is a Christian concert of some sort, that has various acts within the concert, and on of those, I’ve seen Franceska Battistelli, which I will embed one of her famous ones, and, MERCY ME, Chris Tomlin, Crowder, and a whole bunch more.

    I’m not a Baptist, or what Eagle would call “Evangelical”, but I’ve been to one before. I felt like I was back in the early 70’s going to the Church of the Nazarene…BORING PIANO ONLY, and a Hymnal…”Please open your hymnal to hymnal 237″…BORING!

    In the beginning, back in 1955, man didn’t know ’bout a rock and roll show, and all that jive…LET THERE BE LIGHT, SOUND, DRUMS, GUITARS, LET THERE BE ROCK! (brought to you by AC/DC).

    Look, I don’t care about boring piano or organ playing only type of worship music. Anytime someone states that they don’t like “organized” religion, I always respond with, “neither do I, I like guitarized religion.”

    If I listen to secular music, and it’s “FUN BEAT”, then I don’t want to be FAKE AND PHONY regarding my choice of religious music either. I may be in my upper 50’s, but I ain’t no old fart, who is into them OLDIES BUT GOODIES stuff of the 1940’s.

    My favorite movie…EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS. What did Eddie say? WORDS AND MUSIC. The lyrics is what is important, ALONG WITH THE BEAT. They go hand in hand.

    The Church of Christ…and a few other cults, they don’t use instruments at all. I find that very sad, and even more boring than a Baptist Church.

    Franceska Battistelli, sings HOLY SPIRIT

    Ed Chapman

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  3. Wondering Eagle,

    Speaking of Mercy Me, if you haven’t seen the movie, “I Can Only Imagine”, I would highly recommend it.

    It’s a TRUE STORY of the lead singer of Mercy Me. It will make you cry…if you are into that kinda thing for EMOTION, that is. His dad was a MONSTER, extremely abusive, UNTIL ONE DAY…

    I don’t know what you have against modern day music in church, but I think it’s your Catholic upbringing. But if I’m not mistaken, it was the Catholics that invented BINGO! Just kidding, my aunt and uncle were Catholic, and my aunt loved Catholic BINGO. I had always wondered what Bingo has to do with God, just like you do regarding ROCK AND ROLL in church. Ironic?

    Ed

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  4. My wife is a big Bon Jovi fan, but is not a fan of our church’s worship style, which does involve the whole lights and fog machine thing. I think it’s a little over the top too, but reportedly people at our church have actually become saved because they realize the worship isn’t what they expected and actually fits their stylistic preferences, and then stick around to hear the gospel.

    We were just talking about this yesterday. With some churches reopening, the most dangerous activity they could engage in is group singing. One solution might be to have the worship be more of a performance without audience participation. Insert joke about Presbyterians here.

    I have heard it predicted that as lights-and-fog megachurches decline in popularity, there will remain basically one per major metropolitan area for the people who are into that sort of thing, and everyone else will go to other churches. We shall see, I suppose.

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