Which is what the United Methodist Church is turning into:
There will be U2 music at Sunday's 6:30 p.m. contemporary service at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Orlando. The church's praise band (isn't there a catchier name than that?) will perform U2 hits such as "In the Name of Love," "With or Without You" and "Beautiful Day" to raise awareness about poverty and social issues.
Where did the idea originate? It all started with an interview that Bono gave at the Willow Creek Leadership Conference, an annual meeting involving a wide range of church denominations."He was talking about being involved in changing social ills, and that just went into the back of our minds," says Justin Cox, an assistant to the youth director at First Methodist. "In the month of January, we have been talking each week about different social issues -- poverty, homelessness, AIDS. We remembered Bono's interview and his campaign."
Cox says the church has never incorporated any rock or pop music in its services, but the Bono connection was a natural one. Young people also know of Bono's activism, particularly through the RED product tie-ins launched by the Gap and Apple."If you listen to the words in the music, people can sing along and understand how they apply to AIDS and poverty and being sexually active," says Sharon Tice, a volunteer in the church's youth ministry.
U2 has put out some good stuff. I turn the radio up when U2 is on. But when you are a "praise" band playing it in church, you are no longer a praise band. The operative word is "praise", which is defined by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary ( http://www.m-w.com/ ) as:
1 : to express a favorable judgment of : Commend
2: to glorify (a god or saint) especially by the attribution of perfectionsintransitive verb : to express praise
I am in the music team in our church. We do not call ourselves a praise band, but we come a lot closer to it than these guys. It all comes down to the purpose of your Sunday meeting. In our church we sing praises (definition 2) and then one of our pastors opens the Bible and talks about what's in it. (That's called the "Dragnet" preaching style - just the facts, ma'am.)
If you're going to use your Sunday morning meeting to promote social activism then merge with the Episcopalians and become the Democratic National Committee with holidays.
I have no problem with churches being involved in politics (whoops! Conservative churches are involved in politics, mainstream theo-lib churches are involved in social activism. I need to keep that straight.) But if the social gospel is all you have, then you don't have the Gospel.