Emerging Face of Worship

“And the worship is a shift from linking to layering, moderating to curating, product to process, rock to rave, spectator to participator, structure to texture, repeating to re:mixing, stage to station, lecturing to listening.”

I just found an article of mine on Worship Leader. It was written quite a while ago, when the “postmodernity” word meant more than what it has been reduced to, so if you read it, and want to yell at me, you can do so here in the comments. Its called The Emerging Face of Postmodern [dang i wish i had not used that word] Worship by Andrew Jones


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • shenry says:

    Andrew – I’m sure your ideas have “emerged” beyond this “face of postmodern worship,” so this post is simply to stimulate conversation. Under such pretenses, I offer my three cents:
    – How does this speak holistic truth to a fragmented, “un-churched” post-modern generation? Jesus teaching at the well seems to say that worship is a part of life that should not be based on place or time (non-linear, non-spacial), but instead focuses worship on the integration of faithfulness amidst daily conflicts. In terms of our generation, the “event” you described may be hipper and web-like than the traditional church hierarchy, but it is still segregated from life.
    – What if the emerging face of postmodern worship shifts from a sensual existential experience that pulls one from the world in order to riddle their neck with goosebumps to a hallowing of the everyday, communally and personally? Experiences like the one you described are wonderful, artful expressions that infuse new life into many young “emergents,” which is wonderful. However, expressions come and go as cultural phenomenon.
    – Among my “less-Christianized” post-modern friends, any number of spiritual experiences place them at peace within themselves and meets their spiritual “quota” – yoga, spirit-animals, kabbalah, meditation. But where these fail to lead to true happiness, our “worship” throughout the week, not the insular events, points them towards the Answer they’re searching for. The spirituality of Jesus worship wiggles its way into the everyday, simply and effectively shaping culture into the image of himself. Perhaps the face of worship (emerging, pomo, or whatever is next) will daily run, build, sweat, drive, and listen with/to/for God in fresh ways to co-create an increasingly Christ-like postmodern culture.
    I could throw in more change, but that’s a long enough comment. Thanks for your blog, Andrew. You encourage me.

  • andrew says:

    great questions, Mr Sean Henry, and i want to give some answers.
    probably tomorrow
    and you are right, i am posting this here for the sake of conversatoin . .. actually for the sake of accountability and criticism. I have had one or two strong criticisms on this article through email but and i want to honor my critics by giving them a Mars Hill platform to air their complaints publicly.
    And you are right – i and many of us have “emerged” beyond this article
    The worship experience i described, “Epicenter” happened in March 2001 and I originally wrote the article around 2002. Not everything that happened that night was kosher with me. Some things made me cringe. Other things were incredibly spiritual and moving. Yes, I was responsible for the worship installation and for overseeing the 45 artists (and the 2 Creative Directors), but that is not to say that i appreciated everything they created. As well as that, editors have taken some artistic freedom (i would not have used “postmodern” in the title if it was up to me) and yet .. . my name is on this article and therefore i am accountable to own up to my shortcomings
    Look forward to this conversation and hearing your reaction. Must spend time with my family tonight, though, so i sign off here . .. for now.

  • I appreciated your article, despite it’s title. Remember that many of us out here still inhabit and world and expression of church where the word “modern” is still used to describe something new and the inclusion of any worship element beyond the linear or “modern” is considered quite radical. Your article may now be considered by some (even yourself?) as “so five minutes ago” but, like the music that I record, it captures a moment in time, an experience that you had that was worthy of note and, for me, challenged me again to keep reaching for something more in how I express my worship (at least in the event context). Sure, we need to work out our worship in the every day, but that doesn’t negate the need or our desire for corporate worship events, or the need to keep challenging ourselves to creatively worship in a way that speaks in a language that is recognisable to the people around us. These attempts will not always work out well, we may even feel embarrassed a our efforts at times, but hey, nobody’s perfect.
    Nice work, Andrew. Hold your pomo head high;-)

  • andrew says:

    Right . . Sean
    I am back, but not necessarily wiser.
    I am posting a blog post with a lot of links to various articles that were written about the event so that you can get some other perspectives. As for questions:
    – Yes, worship can and does happen anywhere and as a part of the rhythms of life, and yet there are times when people coming in from other countries and cities will have a large worship event – and i think there is something powerful when that happens. Many of the worship artists involved are involved in house church or do not have weekly worship services so it was special for them also.
    Rather than being segregated from life – there was a determination to bring the spiritual highlights of our life and give them form and expression so that others entered in.
    Some of those who entered in were from the street outside. I know of at least one person that gave his heart to Jesus that night as a response to what he experienced, heard and saw.
    its true that many of the 15 rooms that were created were “hip” but that was just an outcome of these young artists worshipping God in their own language and artforms. They were not told to be hip but rather to create worship that was spiritual, prophetic, ecomonic and narrative.
    as for spirit animals, and weird stuff – there was one account, i believe. we invited one of the many street kids outside (this was downtown austin, at austin first baptist church) to come in and participate in creating the art. One of them drew a spiral image that we all agreed was not of God. We talked with him and he was OK with us removing his image.
    As for the worship artists, they would probably be offended if i suggested the connection with them. WE are talking about leading missionaries and urban evangelists – not wishy washy new age practitioners.
    Not enough time to explain what happened but links to articles will emerge soon on this site
    in the meantime, read the Southern Baptist report here.
    Baptist Standard article on Epicenter

  • Matybigfro says:

    I guess worship that reaches to these people who are looking for the deeper astral plane need’s to be underpined with a greater spirituality of christ rather than rules and religion of jesus. Sometimes I feel ashamed at the bland spirituality of Christianity compared to other but then i remember my freinds story of the angel that he saw. I also am reminded of the demon’s jesus drove from people (or the mental health problems he healed them from at the end of the day they can be the same thing and they can be diffrent and still be a exciting part of spirituality). The moments of oneness with God that have come in the middle of empty night cathedrals and nice happly clappy sing allongs and the fact that I know when I’m in the wrong something inside me will do anything it can to not be brought before jesus. And I realsie that actually christianity can offer a viviied colourfull and joined up spirituality that excists throught within and over this world and seeks to not just transport us form it.
    Rock still Rocks
    I may be some what postmodern but I refuse to move from rock to rave
    but in trying to connect worship of with culture and people in culture rather than church I’ll have a god at writting a worship song infused with some punk ideaoligy and attitude

  • andrew says:

    thank MBF
    rock to rave was more about the dynamics of dance culture over the rock concert:
    no stage, decentralized, mulit-sensory, advertised by word of mouth, hard to find, held in a wierd space at a time that is not convenient, not for the masses, etc
    a good book on that is called “Club Cultures” although that was all a long time ago . .

  • shenry says:

    Andrew – thanks for responding. this post just really just stuck in my head. i appreciate your words, but i don’t think i made myself clear…
    i suppose my real questions lie less with that event in particular, and instead with the more general terms of where “worship evangelism” could be headed in the pomo world: can we “save” worship from being strictly insular?
    back to the well, the woman’s response is worship as evangelism. then after receiving the holy spirit at pentecost, the disciples move from private worship and into the public spectrum.
    the point/question i’m raising is will “emerging” types see that though liturgy/creative/interactive personal worship is wonderful – Jesus seems to ask us to develop an outward thrust that missionally drives our worship of him. what makes the relationship with Jesus different than the animal worship or buddhism or anything else is the impact it has on why/how we (as well as those around us) live.
    perhaps i’m just rambling, but i’m just wondering if others are thinking similar things. we can always figure out new ways of worshipping as the church (which is refreshing to our spirit and a worthy call), but in addition – will we seek out a sense of worship evangelism that invites culture to experience Jesus without coming to an event? not in a pharisaical way, but publicly using daily life (as Jesus did) to point others to him in new ways. whether it be in the pub, the office, the car, or the park, we can open new worlds to people by being bold enough to give glory to God in the “mundane” everyday things.
    probably still not explainging myself very well, i just wanna show people Jesus love to my culture in ways they can comprehend. thanks for “listening” and i hope that makes enough sense to respond 🙂

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