Opiates and the “Experience” of Rave Worship 
“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” The Apostle Paul, Ephesians 5:18-21
Scores of architecturally significant churches dot the landscape of the Australian city of Adelaide, structures that were built to last and perhaps bear testimony to a Christian influence in that part of the world. Upon visiting that city last year (September 24-25, 2011), my initial impression was perhaps like that of the Apostle Paul when he was in Athens and said, “Men of Athens [Adelaide], I observe that you are very religious in all respects” (Acts 17:22).
Under the auspices of Christian Witness Ministries and with Philip Powell the director of CWM, the Lord gave me the opportunity of ministry with The Street Church, a small Bible fellowship of committed Christians in Adelaide. The church is led by the Corneloup brothers, Sam and Caleb, the former who came to the Lord out of a life of crime. In many ways the fellowship encouraged my spirit with the presence of many young people. For the seminars, the church rented The German Club in the downtown area in that city.
With some of the members of The Street Church, I had my first opportunity at “street preaching” at Rundle Mall, an open air shopping area in the heart of Adelaide.  As an American with a distinct “Michigander” accent, people passed by, briefly stopped to listen, and then went their way. Because The Street Church regularly engaged in the activity, secular authorities tried to muzzle the preachers by passing laws against them. But in the name of “free speech,” and because of the legal knowledge of Caleb Corneloup, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the street preachers. If other secular groups espousing a radical ideology were allotted the legal right of public assembly to express their views, then why not The Street Church?
The whirlwind weekend of ministry passed by quickly, and before I knew it, the time arrived for me to get to the airport on Saturday evening in order to catch a flight to Melbourne so that I could connect to another flight to Wellington, New Zealand, the next morning. (For a week, I was scheduled to preach in various cities throughout the north island.)
My driver, a young man from The Street Church, drove me to the Adelaide airport. During that ride and upon leaving the city proper, we drove by one of the beautiful church structures in that city. From the outside, the church appeared no different from the other church buildings with the exception of a large banner that brazenly hung across the steeple and over the entrance of the historic building. On that banner was painted one word: HEAVEN. I turned to my driver and asked him, “Is the name of that church HEAVEN? He answered, “Yes!” and then proceeded to inform me that the church was the one he used to attend before he became a believer in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I asked him what kind of church it was. He informed me it was a “rave” church. Well, not knowing what a rave church was for not ever having heard of such a church before, I questioned him further about what it was. He told me that in their gatherings the worshippers played loud and raucous music, danced, did drugs and partied (And who knows what else?).
Needs based Worship
After his description of “rave” worship, I thought to myself . . . Is this where adapting worship to fulfill the “thrills and chills” sought by seeker audiences, where tweaking the worship style to fit the mood of the culture and the needs of congregants will lead? Worship that resembles the atmosphere of Israel’s partying before the “Golden Bull” when “the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:1-35; *6); clamorous worship that to Joshua sounded like war was going on in the camp (Exodus 32:17). Is this what results when so-called worship becomes sourced in “the wants” of peoples’ bodies and brains (i.e., the Bible calls them “the lusts of the flesh,” i.e., Greek epithumias sarkos)?
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