Emotion-Centered expanded

27 07 2011

Csinos is convinced that most of America focuses on emotion-centered spirituality.  I found this a bit surprising when I think of my current context, but when I expand beyond there, he might be on to something.  Nearly every “non-denominational” Protestant church in America pushes the “Hillsong style” of church which heavily emphasizes the emotions experienced in worship.  Even worship services have been altered to “worship experiences.”  So yes, he might be on to something.

When looked at through the lens of Children’s Ministry, most ministries do focus on fun songs for “worship” in order to get the kids to settle in and engage.  We do a lot of songs that would help the kids to feel good and appeal to their emotions.  In addition to that, some curriculum’s lessons focus on a moralism that the child is supposed to learn as they feel good about God loving them.

Csinos writes:

As with their word-centered neighbors, these children emphasized the role of the Bible in their spiritual life.  For them, the Bible had the unique ability to help them know God in emotionally-intimate and personal ways.  Rather than seeing the Bible as a storehouse of information about God, perhaps they might have been more apt to agree with Billy Graham that, “the Bible is God’s ‘love letter’ to us, telling us not only that He loves us, but showing us what He has done to demonstrate His love.” (77)

He continues with:

The Bible, as a means by which God is revealed, is valued for its usefulness in knowing God in affective ways.  Since music is such a vital component of the spiritual life of children of this style, the spaces in which congregations make music are important, and children enjoy spending time in these places.  In addition, musical worship is an effective means for tapping into young people’s spiritulay and allowing them to feel the presence of God.  Congregations that emphasize worship during their Sunday services and programs lead emotion-centered children to focus on this celebratory event as a vital characteric of their churches and thir first-hand encounters with God.  The people who have the greatest impact on these young people are those who lead them through affective, emotional experiences with the transcendent God, like corporate worship and music. (79)

This is not my spiritual style, but it is for others.  So embracing those who are inclined to experience God through music is very important.  I appreciate his differentiation between “worship and music” because the two truly are not the same.  Worship is the act of adoring God through whatever means, music is one of those means (but not the only one).

For kids of this spiritual style, music that reaches children and teaches them spiritual truths is very important.  Fun songs are not inherently bad, but they cannot be the only form of music the kids ever encounter.  The kids need to encounter all different kinds of music so that they can know that music is much bigger than just what appeals to them or they like.  This can be done through modern praise choruses and older hymns.  Perhaps even chants could be brought on in or other periods of music which glorified God.

Even if this spiritual style is most appealed to today by the American church, that does not mean that it is bad.  It just means that there needs to be balance.  We need to provide balance for all spiritual styles to be emphasized at churches so that no one feels left out.

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