Atlanta Church Opens Worship Service with Prince's 'Purple Rain'

Claiming to be a church for people who don’t go to church is nonsensical. The claim betrays a lack of understanding of what, or rather who the Church is. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul explains that “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:26). Earlier in the letter, Paul states that "He (God the Father) has put all things under His (Jesus') feet and has made him head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1:22-23). The New Testament teaches, specifically in 1 Corinthians 12:27, that Christians, the Church, “are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” In other words, looking directly at the Bible’s definition of “church,” how can a church be made up of people who aren’t a part of it already? Any tagline that steers into the concept of a church for people who don’t go to church is a contradiction of terms.

The sentiment behind the fallacious statement is often driven by the desire to be relevant or, quoting the website of Buckhead Church in Atlanta, a place where people can “safely bring their friends who [do] not go to church.” Except the Church isn’t called to be relevant; it’s not called to cater to the desired self-affirmation of sinners. The Church is called to be exactly what the Church is – the people of God. And the mission of God’s people as the Church is to worship God and to preach the gospel for the edification of the saints and the salvation of lost souls, all for the glory of God. Everything the Church does should serve that paradigm. In other words, worship isn’t a part of Church; worship is what the Church does in all things, specifically when it gathers corporately.

Ushering people into the worship of a holy God with the self-worshiping sultriness of Prince’s “Purple Rain” should be obviously contradictory. The desire to provide a bridge into a church that serves as a safe space for people who don’t usually go to church has caused Buckhead Church of Atlanta to gut the power of the gospel and to drag a holy God into the muck and mire of the most sensuous expressions found in contemporary culture. Why should unbelievers come to church to hear Prince? That’s what a world called Vanity Fair has to offer. Furthermore, if that’s the hook that’s used to get people in the door, that’s the hook that’s going to have to continue to be employed to keep them in the pews.