I’ve been visiting a lot of churches lately. I’ve been a part of a couple conferences, attended a few regional gatherings, and stopped by a few just for fun. Because church media really is my thing, that’s what I naturally look for when I walk through the door. Some of the churches that I’ve attended in these past few months have caused my mouth to drop in awe. In these cases, I immediately start jotting notes, taking photos, and dreaming about how I can apply some of their ideas or techniques to my normal workflow. But, to be honest, most of the churches that I’ve visited have given me quite the opposite effect. Frankly, a lot of them have looked a hot mess. I’m talking U-G-L-Y, no alibi, straight up ugly. And because I’ve never been very skilled at hiding my emotions, I typically end up with a disgusted look on my face and/or shaking my head right in the middle of worship. It’s not healthy. No matter how jacked up their lyrics look or how 90′s their background is, for all of my attention to get wrapped up in such trivial things is poisonous for my soul.
So what do I do instead? I close my eyes. I lock out the lyrics, the backgrounds, the lighting, and all other distractions. And it’s in that visual silence that I worship. Better for my heart to enter God’s presence with no sight than with my eyes judging every motion on the screen. The crazy thing? After I take a note or two, I’ve learned that this is a very good practice in those mouth-dropping, awe-filled services, as well. More than a few times I have gotten so caught up in jotting down notes and comparing lyric techniques that I went through an entire worship set without acknowledging God’s existence. This is just as bad—or maybe even worse.
Have you ever gotten so caught up in church media that you forgot the entire reason why you do what you do? Is it really beneficial to critique your way through a service when you’re visiting another church? What’s a healthy way for me to respond when I see media that looks jacked-up when I’m visiting other churches?