Sunday, 31 May 2009

First moment of disillusion

I can remember the first time I was disillusioned in the Church, although it wasn't till years later — after I stopped being a Christian — that I realised my disillusion was with the Church — not with Christianity itself.

I had put my name forward to join the "worship team" at my church — that is, the group of singers and musos at the front of the church who lead the congregation in song.

I was pretty excited, and pretty nervous. I was 14 or 15 at the time, and was a shy girl who blushed all over just from talking to someone she didn't know — let alone singing in front of church.

I rode my pushbike to church that week, praying I'd do well, singing my scales nervously, singing a musical tongue-twister we'd been taught in my first worship team practice, earlier that week. We didn't start on time, but practice was going well, and I was slowly gaining some confidence — although the sound guy was still turning my microphone up to maximum volume since no-one could hear my shy little voice.

We came to a particular song I loved, and did a test run of the song. Then the worship leader stopped.

"Nouch," he said to his co-leader, "Which way should I sing? Like this—" he sang the line — "Or like this?" And he sang it again, singing on a higher note, his eyes closed. "I think the second way sounds more emotional, don't you?"

Nouch agreed, and he sang it that way, as I stared at them, unable to believe it. I knew I was naive, but... all those times in church, I'd been carried away in the song. The leader singing higher notes, his eyes closed, did sound more emotional; I had got more emotional myself, never realising this was a deliberate ploy to stir up my emotions.

But it was the first glimmer of recognition that I had of the deliberate emotional manipulation that goes on at churches. It's not being "moved by the Spirit"; it's coldly manipulating people's emotions.

It's still a moment I remember very clearly.

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