The Cost of Worship

My alma mater has announced that they will begin charging for tickets to the annual Christmas Festival.

Now, I get full well that this is an expensive festival. The cost of crowd and traffic control, production, broadcasts, etc etc etc has got to astronomical. And I agree completely that foisting this cost off onto the backs of tuition paying students is probably not the way to go.

However, when I was a student there, and when I participated in the festival, the long-standing and fervently-held contention was that this is not a CONCERT it is WORSHIP.

I am all for Christian art. I am all for paying for Christian art. Last night, in fact, I went to hear a British collegiate choral ensemble, and I happily paid my admission fee. And most of the music was religious in nature, sung in a church, beautiful, soul-building stuff. But the literature was not shy about calling this a concert. It costs money to take a group like this on tour. And I am happy to pay to hear it.

And, as a pastor, I get that there are often operating costs associated with worship, too. I’ve seen the church budget. I get how it works.

But if the folks on the dear old hill are about to start charging admission, particularly significant admission,  then I think it is time to start using, unashamedly, the term concert when referring to the festival (notice, in the above weblink, that the term “concert” is used four times; worship is not used at all). Maybe the shift has already happened.

On a personal note, I will say this: last year, Erik and I decided to go back for the first time since college, for the festival. It was lovely. While sitting there, we dreamed a little about what it would be like in a few years to take Zora and maybe a few other children to the festival, to sit there and tell them that this was something we did as college students, and something some of their grandparents, great aunts, great grandparents all did, too. I realize how nostalgic and sappy this is, and I realize it’s not just about this idea of this as worship. But now, that idea is looking like an over-$100-commitment (not including travel). And we might make plans to do it anyway eventually. But I hate that we won’t get to tell them that it might just be one of the biggest and most incredible worship gatherings they ever participate in.

One Response to “The Cost of Worship”

  1. Richard Piper Says:

    You make some good points. I think the reason this goes on is because we all have forgotten what worship is! We want to focus on worldly and not godly things!