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Review: Level Ground by Brian Doerksen

March 17, 2011

Disclaimer: Integrity sends me stuff so I’ll tell you what I think of it. Don’t tell them no one reads this blog. ;)

Brian Doersken’s new project hit the shelves last month. I say “project,” because Level Ground is available as audio, but there’s also a DVD of the recording session.

And I’m recommending the DVD first and foremost.

Brian’s been writing and recording worship music for a while now. If you’re familiar with his stuff, you know what to expect from this album. New songs, of course, but in that classic Brian Doerksen style.

The DVD, however, is something I think every worship leader and church leader needs to see, because it’s a beautiful picture of where we’re headed.

Brian and his team found an empty building, made a few adjustments, and blended into the congregation. There is a small stage at the “front,” but it’s only used between songs for short interviews with people who want to share what God has done in their lives. During worship, Brian and his team play and sing from small (a couple inches high) platforms all over the room. Brian is pretty forward in the crowd, but the drummer is near the back, one singer is somewhere else in the middle, etc.

At the same time there are artists on one wall collaborating on a huge canvass – in between stopping to just lift their hands for a chorus or two. One song features a woman dancing with a couple of flags, which I love because it provides an outlet for the dancers while still keeping everything is in order.

While they do a great job of it, Brian and his team are not the first to redesign a worship event this way, and that’s why I say every worship/church leader needs to see this.

For years, young ministry leaders have been feeling this change and working to articulate and design it. If you doubt this is where worship gatherings are headed, allow me just a moment into your paradigm:

People’s worldview is changing. It sounds sensational to say that we’re living in one of those times that will mark history as a time “everything changed,” but we are. The printing press did it, television did it, and now the internet is doing it. Web 2.0 isn’t exactly news anymore, but the people who birthed it and believed in it when everyone else called it silly and grew up – at least in large part – with it, are moving into power. (And if you doubt that, I’d encourage you to look back at the last Presidential election.)

Most of our contemporary church services are designed the way they are because the people who designed them grew up in a time when television ruled. Our church services look like broadcasts.

The generations that are coming, though, aren’t watching television as much because it’s boring. It’s one-way. It’s passive. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogs, Wikipedia, and the rest of Web 2.0 is interactive. Its users are it’s creators and editors. Everyone gets to play, everyone has a say, everyone has power over it. There is push back and conversation and community.

I do youth ministry. When I was a kid in church, the idea of raising my hand to ask a question – let alone blurting one out in the middle of the speaker/pastor’s message – would have been unheard of. Our students don’t think it’s weird at all.

Our worship services are going to need to start looking less like a television broadcast and more like a social network. How? We’ve been having that conversation for years. We’re just starting to agree on some similar concepts, and Level Ground is a great example of a lot of those ideas.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jeannie permalink
    March 18, 2011 1:27 am

    Totally agree! Such a wonderful DVD. I am deeply touched… Thank you so much Brian and Crew!

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