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Is Church Holier With the Lights On? Or Off?

Karl Vaters visits two churches who couldn’t have worshiped more differently:

There is no right format for worship.

This week I spoke at a ministers’ conference. In the closing commissioning service, most of the new ministers who came forward were wearing jeans and short-sleeved shirts. Those commissioning them were dressed the same.

As they laid hands on the new ministers, we were led in worship by a very loud rock band singing new songs, while a hipster performance artist painted a mural on a massive canvas, in a darkened room with black walls, strobe lights, fog machines and gigantic video screens.

It was glorious.

A few months ago I spoke at a different ministers’ conference. In their closing commissioning service, the new ministers stood up front wearing dark suits or dresses, as did those commissioning them.

As they laid hands on the new ministers, we were led in worship by a southern gospel choir singing old hymns in a brightly-lit, white-walled, pews-bolted-to-the-floor, marbled-columned sanctuary. There wasn’t a hipster, a rock band or a fog machine in sight.

And it was glorious.

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