Discussing
When is public worship not private enough?

Todd Hertz

Dean Shareski
March 3, 2010

The fact that we worship in a public place should mean something a little different. While each of us should are having personal and private expressions before God, we are doing it collectively which is the essence of corporate worship. There's something powerful about being in a room of like-minded people praising God as individuals and yet as one body. <br><br>There is a fine line between participation in this and spectacle. You knew as you worshipped that others around you could watch you and I'm sure that didn't bother you. Putting on the screen shifted it from you as part of the larger body to you as an individual. I totally get what you're saying. It's somehow taken out of context. I suppose it would be similar to the church as a body analogy focusing on a single body part rather than the body as a whole.<br><br>Not sure if I'm capturing your ideas but that's how I see it.

Bethanykj
March 3, 2010

this reminds me of a discussion I started a few months ago.<br><a href="http://www.thinkchristian.net/index.php/2009/07/16/praying-on-tape/" rel="nofollow">http://www.thinkchristian.net/...</a><br><br>Reading your post I'm reminded of what Jesus said about those who pray loudly on street corners. I wonder if the presence of cameras influences us toward worshiping for the benefit of our own reputation as sincere or pious. That to me is reason enough to reconsider their ubiquity.

Jamesggilmore
March 3, 2010

Here are some possibly subversive questions: How does the megachurch style of worship - with its rock-star worship leaders, gigantic screens, and television mentality - relate to God's commandment not to worship graven images?<br><br>Is it possible that if we were more aware of the ideological content of the media by which we worship, and more conscious of and resistant to the steady creep of consumerism and consumerist mediation into our worship spaces, this question would be a moot one?<br><br>In other words, maybe the problem is the fact that there were gigantic video screens to begin with - screens which, as McLuhan and other media scholars would point out, are themselves functioning ideologically - and not necessarily the specific content of what was being shown on them?

Wowshiny
March 3, 2010

I've had good and bad experiences with this. At one large church there were three or four cameramen at tripods stationed near the front. They provided good crowd shots for the video recordings, but weren't at intrusively close angles, and there was plenty of space on either side of the stage to kneel out of the way. On the other hand, a similar church had one very distracting roving photographer who definitely interrupted my worship, even telling people kneeling in prayer to scoot out of his way as he worked around the room. There's a lesson in this somewhere.

Paulvanderklay
March 3, 2010

Wow, good topic. For me the issue isn't private vs. public, it's more the idea that what churches use to attract participants is an ability to consistently deliver on a promised meaningful experience. The pictures implicitly suggest "we did it for him, we can do it for you." Did you feel a bit used by the use of your image? Often ministries and churches use canned pictures. I have pictures up on my church website of people in my church for the very same reason, but I did pick shots of people seeming to have a good time. Am I implicitly offering happiness and community? Can I deliver on this implicit offer? Is it wrong to do so? Tough, tough questions. Thanks for bringing it up. pvk

solid4JC
March 4, 2010

We had the problem of video taping of our FGBMFI meetings, some men who might have responded to the alter call were put off by the camera. We wanted to video the speaker so made it very clear at the meeting that it would be turned off before prayer. In fact we covered the camera then. I don't believe worship can be captured on t.v.It always comes out as a perfomance much like the T.V. megachurches.

Bryandrew
March 4, 2010

I'm a photographer.<br>That being said I have been asked (and have done so) to take pictures of people worshipping. Before being asked to do this I didn't think much of the request because I had been in the newspaper business for some time as a photojournalist so part of my job was taking pictures of people. Sometimes not at their best (their house is burning down, someone was murdered, etc.). I guess I could justify it was part of the job but it was still somewhat difficult at times....<br>After I shot a dozen or so pictures of people up front worshiping alone (some were even young kids) I went home, cleaned up the pictures and turned them over to the media director. <br>I was a little disturbed when I saw them in the newspaper and on the screen the next Sunday. Taking pictures at the newspaper was difficult in that it held it's own ethical delima....I wasn't necessarily always shooting pictures for public awareness but more for the sale of the paper. <br>There was some vaguely familiar with the church pictures....as if they were trying to convince people......or dare I say sell them on something?<br>Yea, we could say people see us anyway but that isn't the real reason we're disturbed. In some weird way, what we're doing is being sold to the watching audience, and that just isn't right.<br><br>Needless to say....I didn't take those pictures again.

dons0256
March 4, 2010

I've been in the same professional position. And I can say I honestly tried not to be disruptive when doing my job. <br><br>While I agree that worship should not be exploited (to sell newspapers or promote a church), this is the information age, and documenting people in worship can be instructive to people who don't know about the reality of Christ in people's lives.

Jamesggilmore
March 4, 2010

<i>documenting people in worship can be instructive to people who don't know about the reality of Christ in people's lives.</i><br><br>And those people don't have the right to be asked whether or not they consent to having their pictures broadcast on a giant screen for everyone to see? Aside from the fact that giant screens carry their own ideological content and function in a way that promotes the heretical ideology of consumerism, I think that's the issue here. Does a person waive the right to have a private or personal worship experience if they're in a setting with live photographers or videographers and giant projection screens? Does "documenting people in worship" for the purposes of displaying that to "people who don't know about the reality of Christ in people's lives" trump whether an individual might not want to have his or her worship experience broadcast in front of everyone?

Todd Hertz
March 4, 2010

You summed up my issue perfectly, Dean. I am fine with people seeing me worship in a corporate setting--but I feel like a line is crossed a bit when I or someone becomes the focus. I love your analogy to focusing on one body part among the whole.

Todd Hertz
March 4, 2010

I just went back and read that column. Very similar issues here. You brought up great points. Thanks for bringing that to my attention, Bethany.

Andyswartz
March 4, 2010

James, I tend to agree with you. All I seem to read about are people going to conferences, etc., which I don't say is wrong but what do we expect... conferences are often taped. It's funny, this one person I'm a friend of starts thinking about the next conference he is putting on the day after it ends... spends all year thinking about the techniques, technologies... I just pray we remember to mention the Gospel in all of that grandeur. :)

dons0256
March 8, 2010

Fair point, but that kind of brings it back to the original question. Does someone who voluntarily enters a public event, in a large meeting place, with modern multimedia technology in obvious use, have the right to automatically assume that they will not be interupted/disrupted by the use of said multimedia? Do you ask everyone to sign a waiver before they enter the room? (Certainly wouldn't want to interupt someone's worship to ask them to sign the waiver...) Or should there be a "caution" statement attached to said event's promotional material? (My church actually has such a statement in our worship bulletin.)

Paula Awtry
May 20, 2017

I just got home from a heavily photographed worship event. I found it intrusive, distracting, and a sacrilege. I don't think I will ever endure another such event. After clicking around the internet and learning that there is a such thing as a "worship photographer," I realize that nothing is sacred. I don't know how to deal with my discomfort other than to simply not participate.

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