Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Postmodern Stations

A few weeks ago I talked about how Seacoast Church is doing the new postmodern stations thing [read "Postmodern Path" below.]

What's so new about Communion and prayer? Here's what: Seacoast's version is optional and interactive.

The modern service order is linear - announcements, music, offertory, sermon - insert whatever - all in a straight chronological line. Everyone is experiencing the same thing, together, simultaneously.

The postmodern mind is different. Think of a teenager listening to his iPod, doing homework and watching TRL [MTV's Total Request Live] all at the same time. This mindset can multitask, and in fact, would prefer to multitask. We live in an overstimulated age and a one-track mind can be boring.

While the Seacoast service is mainly linear, there is a portion that isn't. During this portion of the service, a person can choose to do one, none, some or all of the following:

1. Participate in congregational singing.
2. Move to a station to receive Communion.
3. Move to a station to make an offering.
4. Move to a station and pray with leadership.
5. Move to a station, say a prayer and light a candle as a symbol of that prayer.
6. Move to a station, write a prayer concern [sin, healing, etc.] on a piece of paper and nail it to a cross.

Here's how the current service order looks:

>5 minute countdown video.
>2 upbeat worship songs.
>welcome, announcements.
>3-4 songs or hymns, during which you may participate in any or all of the 6 options above.

Church. It's not just for sitting anymore.

See pics of the Seacoast Greenville stations at my new Flickr page:

Postmodern Path blog entry:

Blended worship on a budget. is the best sheet music value on the Internet. Download a free contemporary hymn arrangement.


FeFiFoPhil said...

Having participated in a few of these "services", they are disheartening, God's people are not a people of images, but a people of the book. There is a reason for this, because even well intended images most often become "idols". Remember Israel's sin at the foot of Mt. Sinai of the golden calf. This calf was not some pagan god, this calf symbolized Yahweh. We are a visual people Aaron give a a visual object for worship. Look to history when has the church reverted to such "additions", it has been when God's people have been biblically illiterate, prior to the reformation it was because the RC church kept the word from them, today we are illiterate willfully. Let's not turn to images and stations to seek spiritual experiences, let us turn to the Word of God and plead that the Spirit would speak with power. Do we doubt the Spirit of God this much that we reject the very thing he has promised to bless and seek to add our own additions? Just some thoughts. May Christ be your delight!

sweetswede said...

This is more of a psychology note then anything, and I don't think it would really have much effect on the service you described; however, it's been proven that when, as you described, a teen might listen to an i-pod, do homework, and watch tv at the same time this kind of multitasking greatly slows down the rate everything is getting done.

I don't think church needs to base its structure on every new fad that comes across society. While four years ago a church where the ushers rode scooters down the aisle might have been a good idea, the scooter craze didn't last long. I'm not saying what Seacoast is doing is a bad idea, actually I kind of like the idea of it. What I want to say is the church needs to be careful how much it adapts for acceptance, because we've paid a dear price for it in the past.

Don Chapman said...

Yes, I would imagine these type of services would be disheartening, if not downright terrifying, to the modern mind.

As one linear, baby-boomer pastor recently said to me, "if this is where worship is heading, I'm outta here!"

fefiophil, count yourself blessed that you weren't born in those illiterate times, the middle ages, where few people could read and got much of their Bible knowledge from the images in the local cathedral's stained glass windows.

I also hope you don't project lyrics on a screen in your church, and, heaven forbid, use background images : )

ChrisSligh said...

I'm a little offended by the silliness I see in some of these comments. How do stations in any way signify an idol?!! There is nothing sinful in and of itself with an image or a metaphor! It is how those things are used that determine its goodness. Perhaps it is disheartening for these people because they have done the same thing for so long that they can not wrap their minds around anything else except what they have always done.

Also, why is it disheartening to perform acts of humility on a weekly basis, as opposed to time to time as many churches do? We confess our sins...why does it matter if confession to Christ happens while nailing a 3x5 card to a tree? Why does it matter that communion now happens weekly instead of the Baptist perscribed 1x per month?

If people are going to rest their salvation on acts, then it doesn't matter how often or how little those acts happen. All that a church can do is figure out how they want to partake in the sacraments and move on from there.

To compare what Seacoast does to the golden calf, is actually so silly that it is honestly somewhat offensive. Just because something is different than the way you've always done, doesn't mean it's bad. It just means it's different.

worshipful1 said...

We have done similar stations at our church, and I have to say that most people enjoy the change of pace. IT doesn't happen every week, in fact, it happens only occasionally. Nonetheless, young and old, male and female seem to enjoy it. IT's all about where your focus is. If you are focused on WORSHIPING OUR SAVIOR, it wouldn't matter if a dog served you the communion! :) Obviously I don't see canines as necessary or appropriate....just making a point. Thanks for this post, Don! I enjoy reading what you have to say!

Graham said...

I am intrigued by the stations concept and we try something similar. But I do have have some issue with the "catering" to the post-modernists - just because they have been "raised" by TV and have ADHD (formerly ADD) does not mean that they cannot focus corporately. But that is more personal preference. In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul chastises the beleivers for their lack of order in their service. This comes after he talks about the role of women and eating meat and freedoms we have as christians. Just wondering if having multiple stations and music is rather disjointed. Plus it does not appear to enhance community, rahter it enforces indivduality. This is not wrong, but the warning in scripture is to not forsake the assembling together - for community, growth, and accountability.

Keep up the blog. Thanks for your thoughts,

Anonymous said...

hey man is there anyway you could send me some good music for a youth group? im 17 an play guitar for our youth group and were hurtin for some new material. thanks
seth benefield

my email is

Jennifer said...

hello everyone,

i came across this blog sort of accidentally....

what you are discussing has been labeled "the emerging church." the whole concept of worship changing.

in my own opinion i don't believe anything is changing, just a new depth is being added. and that "change" is good.

i mean, hymns have changed over the years, was that wrong? we are a visual people, so is it wrong to have a portrait or likeness of Jesus in our chapels? or bumper stickers?

i am not discrediting the word of God. but when you dig in, how many people were spoken to without the written word? moses and the burning bush? samuel heard...? is it so wrong to engage all of our senses so as to immerse ourselves in our worship?

i love the postmodern slash emerging church topic. i love worshipping God with all my senses. because to me, it's all about creativity. it's inspiring. and it's to be done in the spirit.

i have so much to say, but i'll close now with this:

"church is not a place where, but a people who." dan kimbal

btw, i am a postmodern young Christian. but i still "attend church." hope i made sense....