I grew up in Assembly of God and Southern Baptist churches with fairly subdued architecture and the music you would expect: mostly hymns with a few modern choruses. I probably never even thought about architecture until I went to college saw our university "chapel" for the first time. It was an awe inspiring experience, but I can't say I felt closer to God because of the surroundings.
|pic courtesy Saint Louis University|
I also believe there is also some real intention poured into the way modern churches are designed that benefits its members. Our pastor in St. Louis pointed out that they deliberately made the stage low because they didn't want the speaker to look elevated as if they were better or closer to God. There are also a lot of technical reasons for stages to be laid out the way they are to enhance the sound to the listeners and to the other members of the worship team. The stage was designed extremely wide at our St. Louis church when they built the new auditorium so that the team could come back on stage while our pastor was finishing his message and they wouldn't distract anyone while they walked back to their places.
Addressing the aspect of modern worship music, I'm sure there are some worship leaders out there who do not have honorable intentions and are there to glorify themselves more than God. But in my experience, many times when a member of the worship team takes off and doesn't follow the words on the screen, they aren't auditioning for a reality show. They are truly singing spontaneous melodies in response to a God too big to fit in a pre-written song. It is also usually a chance for those in the service to also respond with what is on their heart.
As for the more performance driven times of worship, I prefer them. When I hear someone enormously talented pour their heart out to God in a song that is expertly performed, I praise God for the talent He has given to them. I can focus on the words and who He is and just respond to who He is in those moments. I love hymns and choirs but like the architecture, I believe we are the church and as we change throughout history, what our weekend services become is going to change. It always has and it always will. If anything, we need to be on the cutting edge and drive the culture rather than just becoming a secondhand reflection. We have to be in the business of reaching the lost while because firmly planted in truth and that may manifest itself in a variety of outward appearances but as long as those appearances aren't compromising our mission, the variety and modernization looks pretty good from where I sit.
Taking all that into consideration, this is still hilarious.