Churches walk a very fine line between being relevant to the culture and embracing it whole hog. Incarnation requires us to be relevant in the context we find ourselves but many of the values of the dominant culture are antithetical to the call of Jesus. If we do not speak the language of the culture and understand it, then we have nothing to say. At the same time, if we fail to be authentic to the values of Jesus in our context, we lose our credibility and damage the ministry of the church.
Sometimes, the line is really difficult to walk. I wonder when worship treads too close to entertainment or when church leaders become celebrities. At CDCC, we try to use media well, present music with quality, and I work hard to make my sermons engaging. I want to keep people's attention in a world where they are inundated with high production value entertainment. Running a church that speaks to this culture isn't cheap, especially in Santa Barbara. Money is an issue we cannot ignore but we must always be good stewards of the money we receive. And it is difficult to measure "success" outside of its cultural trappings.
Add to that a culture that has high expectations of the Church even as they ignore it. Folk in the broader culture expect churches of all institutions, to be authentic to the values we espouse. We become an easy target if we slip over the line even a little.
A friend shared this link to a youtube video that evidently came from an Australian television show called Chaser's War on Everything. It is a parody of a very large church in Australia with huge numbers of people, incredibly high production values, and more resources than many small countries in the developing world. I have no idea how fairly the parody reflects Hillsong, but it certainly hurts any of us in the institutional church who struggle with those lines. Evidently the perception of some in Australia is that Hillsong has crossed the line.
I have to say that I wrestled with whether or not I should post the video. I did laugh... and cringe as I watched it. Most of all though, I prayed... May God keep the Church of Jesus from becoming like this parody. I posted it as a reminder to myself...