Dear Friends in Faith,
Maybe you remember FM Radio format? It enjoyed its heyday in the 1970s when vinyl LP’s ruled the airwaves. At the time, something called “Concept albums,” were big. Instead of a collection of unrelated songs written to land on the “Top 40,” these LP’s featured a central idea—a recurring theme, if your will—that aimed to create artistic integrity among all the songs. By the 1980s, changing times, musical taste, MTV and the economy of the recording industry reduced concept albums to the sales rack of obsolete ideas.
As turntables gave way to the digital revolution, music in the form of CD’s, and now digital downloads, made it almost impossible for the concept idea to ever resurface. Its pretty hard to make a go of a musical concept when it’s distributed, bought, sold, and listen to digitally. Picking and choosing your own playlist is a great way for consumers to collect the music they want, but it can quickly fragment the meaning and value of any artistic project that requires a collection of tunes to be kept together.
I see the same digital principle being applied to church attendance. Not unlike an iTunes download, many folks today are picking and choosing what they want from church. Example: “I love Taste of Soquel, on a Saturday, but I’ll pass on the worship service come Sunday.” In short, people make their own spiritual playlist, right?
Hey, I don’t want to sound like an old guy—some vinyl purist—yelling at a digital church culture to, “Get off my lawn!” If people find just one thing from church they feel will help them, then that is, without question, a good thing and not to be discouraged. However, there is no getting away from the reality that the transforming power of a faith community cannot be discovered in simply its random parts, but rather by way of the whole.
Take for example the theme of God’s love. If the church we’re an LP, the recurring concept would be God’s love; known, shared and acted upon in all its beauty and endless variety. So, let me suggest that Sunday morning worship remains a place where all the dots can be connected; stories are told, humor is enjoyed, friendship are formed, encouragement shared, spiritual growth fostered and a celebration of faith brought full circle. So, at the risk of sounding, “Old school,” I encourage you all to come and make your church experience whole during Sunday morning worship. Call it a “concept album,” I guess, one that is certainly subject to change—yet one that sounds best when we make it, together.