Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes

#137 Sneaking onstage during prayer

mission-impossible.jpgWhen the pastor finishes the sermon and says “Let’s close in prayer,” this is usually the band’s cue to sneak silently back onstage. With every head bowed and every eye presumably closed they skulk back to their seats, quiet as death. The stealth is palpable. You could cut it with a knife. It’s hard to concentrate on the prayer because you’re nervous on their behalf as they try not to brush the cymbals or knock over music stands. Also perceptible is their urgency to be seated before the prayer is over, as to have materialized while we weren’t looking. It’s a relief when the pastor says “Amen” and you don’t have to be nervous for them anymore.

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Lee Herring

posted March 16, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Ms. D,
As a pastor, I hate this when it happens at a worship service I’m attending or leading. However, if the participants would magically descend like Mr. Cruise/marionette puppets, I think that would be really cool. Maybe they could descend while I ascend through a trap door in the platform. Now that’s a great idea!

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Rollo Tomassi

posted March 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Steph, Steph, Steph, tsk, tsk,..
You know that lilting, improvised, solo-piano chorus reprise from whatever song the worship team was playing before the sermon that magically starts when the closing prayer begins? You do know that the real purpose of that “prayer soundtrack” is to provide cover for the returning musicians don’t you?
Oh, you thought that was complete serendipity?

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Jess P

posted March 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm

When sneaking on stage I always had this wonderful feeling of being above the law. While all the saps in the congregation were bowing their heads in prayer, I was preparing for God’s service by dawning my ruby red 4-string bass. I had a higher calling, one reserved for part-time, volunteer musicians.
At that point my heart wanted to break out into a punk rock anthem to my King, but we usually ended up playing a half-assed rendition of “Oh how he loves you and me” because we didn’t have time to practice it before service.

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posted March 16, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Stephanie, This is my favourite of your observations. This is incredibly true. We used to meet in an old building and were shoved into a corner and forced to crawl over monitors etc……A few scary accidents waiting to happen. Thanks for the trip down Nervous Memory Lane.

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posted March 16, 2010 at 5:51 pm

My favorite was the time I was leading worship for some youth from a couple of different churches. After the song, I didn’t know what to say so I just spoke out “lets all clap for God!” As boring as that must have sounded, it got real quiet when I raised my hands to clap and my brand new $1,500 Gibson Les Paul Standard slipped off of my guitar strap and slammed to the stage. All I could muster was to say, “well that wasn’t on the set list.” Anyways, lesson learned, always buy locking guitar strap clips.
When we would slip onto the stage in the main worship after the offertory prayer, the minister of music would give us a wink to let us know it was time to come on stage…. like I didn’t know.

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Ben Mordecai

posted March 16, 2010 at 9:24 pm

This is one more reason churches should have the Lord’s Supper every week. Rather than distracting everyone, and deprving the band’s opportunity to pray with the congregation and focus, the band can get up while everyone else is getting up and be served first so they can get ready for the songs.

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Ben Mordecai

posted March 16, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Whoops. I can haz bad grammerz?

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posted March 18, 2010 at 1:05 am

What if you go to one of those churches that likes having background music during prayer to heighten the sensation of spirituality?

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Paul Wilkinson (Thinking Out Loud)

posted March 20, 2010 at 5:33 pm

If my eyes are closed, the band often gets away with it. But when I’m watching sermon videos online or on DVD, my eyes aren’t closed. (Sorry…guess I’m not that spiritual…) I thought Andy Stanley’s church handled this well when they would simply fade to black during the closing prayer — as if the camera itself closed its eyes — but on more recent DVDs they stopped doing it, and the visual of the band’s return is always, always awkward.

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Just Me

posted March 20, 2010 at 8:46 pm

I hate ‘sneaking up’ – and haven’t done it for years… but my current boss / pastor wants the sneak. Alas, I do as he says, ’cause he is my spiritual leader… right?

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Mark R

posted March 22, 2010 at 3:33 am

Steph I confess I once opened my eyes during the closing prayer and took a quick peek … they sneak like the puppets from Thunderbirds walk – this is true.
the music is played softly, quietly as Pastor begins the Altar call … I’m moved, it is me he is staring at, it is me, I’m the one, who God has told him that I have this addiction ….. I had to go forward cause he would of kept going for hours not fair on the others … I was that lost sheep
and when I went forward the band played … for he’s a jolly good fellow – for their task was done.

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posted March 23, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Great post. I actually used to sneak OUT during the prayer so I could get a jump on the traffic, which is a huge problem for McChurches.
Seriously, you would think that church wouldn’t have to be a theatrical production.

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posted November 14, 2010 at 2:14 am

This is where the “traditional” mainline churches have an advantage. No need for stealth actions by musicians. The choir just sits up in the front the entire service, and worst case, the organist has to climb back onto his bench from the chair he may have been occupying just a few steps away. No fuss, no muss!

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