Contemporary worship akin to moshing?

worshipI first heard about moshing from worship lecturer Dr Lim Swee Hong of Trinity Theological College. During his lecture, he mentioned how a certain writer likened what you see in contemporary charismatic worship (particularly the megachurches) to the moshing you see in punk rock concerts. Is contemporary worship in the megachurches borrowing too much from the world? Are they aping popular culture so that the non-Christian will be more comfortable, and attracted to the church? That really got me all curious. So I went to do some research about moshing.

Wikipedia definition

“an activity in which audience members at live music performances aggressively push or slam into each other. Moshing is frequently accompanied by stage diving, crowd surfing, and headbanging. It is commonly associated with concerts by heavy metal, punk rock, and alternative rock artists, although it occurs at performances by musicians of all sorts of genres. Moshing primarily takes place at live shows, though it can be done to recorded music, too. In the 2000s, many variations of moshing exist, such as “thrash”, and the dance is practiced at concerts of many musical genres. Moshing is typically done in an area in front or the stage which is referred to as the mosh pit or circle pit. While moshing is seen as a form of positive feedback or reflection of enjoyment from live audiences, it has also drawn some controversy over its dangerous nature. However, it is generally agreed that moshers are not trying to harm one another and follow a “moshing etiquette” which promotes safety through behaviors such as immediately helping audience members that have fallen back to their feet to avoid their being trampled”.

Then I went to YouTube to get an idea of what it looks like.

And then I compared it with a worship concert done by Hillsong United. Compare them for yourselves. You may think otherwise but I think they are different.

Perhaps moshing is more like what’s in this next video. No offense is meant to moshers. Please do not complain to the police or the ISD. 🙂

(First published in 13th January 2008)

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  • hmmm i did experience moshing during worship before. was at the planet shaker conference in Dec 2006 KL if i rem correctly. during one of the rowdier worship songs, (planet shakers have quite a few rah rah kind of music) people started doing the congo right infront of the stage. Then the congo line started moving and weaving around people, pushing and shoving them. And yes, the situation looked like the 1st youtube video (not the hillsong one).

    So moshing do happen in megachurches read: Planet Shakers. Hillsong is not a good representation of hardcore rock type “worship” as their music is really considered very mild when put together with bands on this list:

    the sad thing about contemporary worship today is not about the songs that we sing and play, but rather the attitude that we are having towards it. When we “worship” God during sunday service, what exactly is on our mind? Do we want to sing unto Him our sacrifice of praise, or do we want to sing to Him so that we can experience His presence?

    Contemporary “worship” has placed too much on emphasis on so called “presence of the Lord” such that people come to church simply for the so called “spiritual feeling”, they even start to critique the so called “quality of worship” as how well they could feel the spirit “moving” or “stirring”. This has turn our worship to the Lord into a farce. Worship is suppose to a time and place for us to bring OFFERINGS to God, NOT GOD COMING DOWN TO US. Nowadays we are constantly dwelling on how the worship is going to administer to the people, heal the sick, strengthen the weary, give them hope etc. This continue to fuel the self-centered nature of our Christian walk, where we demand God to do things for us, instead of praising Him and giving thanks for simply being the great I Am.

    Anyway back on topic, what i seriously think that a good portion of the “spirit filled” worship are simply misinterpretation of our own emotions being stirred up by the music (pure music, not even lyrics). In fact, most of the people will experience the same emotions when they go for secular concerts (doesn’t haf to be rock even). And the irony is, while most of us condemn so called secular music (i’ve personally met a few from my own church who thinks secular music is evil), but they are getting high on their own music fix thru sunday worship. This is what our worship has become, a radio station… people complain when the music is not to their liking, people complain when the quality of the music is not enough, people complain when the worship leader didn’t smile. Well, they are not doing this for God, they are doing this cuz they did not “enjoy” worship. And guess wad? if they don’t like it for a long period of time, BAM! change channel lol… May God forgive us all…

    • I see worship as living with gratitude to the Lord, who has rescued and saved us. That little hour or two on Sunday is a part of the whole thank you bouquet I offer to him. It is always flawed and imperfect, both musically and in terms of our spirituality, and yet made acceptable and perfect, because of what Jesus has done for us. Our sacrifice of praise becomes a fragrant offering to the Father by the sacrifice of Jesus’ life for us.

      Music is a gracious gift of God to humans. It can stir, calm, disorientate, depress, cheer up, and heal. It affects out emotional state. Since music is a gift to all, a common grace, it is not inconceivable that God, in His goodness and earthy practicality, uses this means to touch us, and help us experience His love, His power, His person.

      Mediocre music is jarring to the ears of a generation attuned to really good music. Leaving a church for its musical inadequacies is like leaving your family because the food is not as good as the restaurant’s. Immaturity.

      The church will always have its chronic complainers like what pastor Moses faced in the church in the wilderness. Blessed is the man who does not find himself walking among them. Blessed is the man who patiently waits for, and hopes in the Lord.

    • Hi Emmanuel,
      Thanks for your sharing. I agree with you that sometimes worship (in the music sense) has become very self-centred in church services. It has become a “what’s in it for me?” than singing to the God who loves us and created us.

      I believe it is a lack of correct teaching and we really need to teach Christians what true worship really is. (besides the music part). We really need a right theology of worship(& music) in that sense.

      Complains on songs/music/style are not uncommon, and sometimes justified when musicians did badly. But the problem is not on poor music, but the wrong focus. If we can only sing with good music but not bad ones, we have a problem – i.e. we’re saying, “music worship depends on the songs, not on a God who is worthy to be praised.” This to me, is a fundamental theological error that needs to be addressed in many many churches.

      May the Lord bless pastors and teachers to teach/defend/proclaim the truth and guide their flocks to grow in maturity. God bless.

  • Well said Emmanuel. Sometimes I don’t sing ‘coz I don’t like the song, which I know isn’t right (unless my Spirit cannot bear witness with the lyrics). So I tell myself I am here to worship God who is Spirit “in spirit and in truth”. That’s the only standard Jesus gave. Each worshipper should be mindful of that and discover for himself/herself what that really means.

  • Hmmm… a pertinant issue… I’ve had my previous church torn up quite badly by this.

    It was a bit of a nightmare… our youth pastor was a hardcore revivalist that wanted youthy-pumping songs but SP was a traditionalist that prefered the introspective.

    Unfortunately the differences were not resolved properly and the youth suffered for it. In retrospect prehaps we were just all too immature.

  • For anyone to think that a mosh pit is appropriate in worship is beyond me. We are supposed to be sanctified, set apart. Would Jesus participate in such foolishness? Not at all. It bothers me that such nonsense is even up for discussion. I attended a 3-band concert at Wheaton college since my teen daughter wanted to see these “Christian” bands. I was embarrassed. It was nothing but primal screaming, ear splitting noise, the music was satanic in many ways, there was stage jumping, bra throwing….etc. There was no semblance of worship to the Lord and I’ll never view Wheaton college as a Christian college ever again.
    Also, this whole idea of being non-offensive to church visitors is the tool of Satan. The church worship service is for the participation of Christians, and the audience is God. Anything that’s done with the mindset of “will this be acceptable to visitors?” indicates an ignorance of worship is and who its target is. We don’t worship to feel good or attract visitors…we do it because God demands it. He is the reason. I could go on but you get the point. Contemporary worship is man pleasing but not God pleasing.

    • I’m sorry man but your being way to close – minded here. its fun, and just because its a bit different or aggressive etc doesn’t mean its foolish. fair enough with the bra throwing and stuff but if they are christian bands i highly doubt they intended that to happen. not every member of the crowd might be aware that the band is christian, or maybe they are, but thats still nothing to do with the band. labeling it satanic is prettyyy ridiculous however. i listen to alot of christian music like this. i understand why you have got such an impression though..

      try checking out these bands from the same sort of genre then look at the lyrics, they even have much slower worship kinda songs =]

      -for today
      -sleeping giant

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