Home Worship & Creative Leaders Articles for Worship & Creative Can the Holy Spirit Inhabit Smoke Machines in the Sanctuary?

Can the Holy Spirit Inhabit Smoke Machines in the Sanctuary?

In the midst of these sweeping trends, some attenders succumb to the temptation to church-hop, sampling church services like so many downtown restaurants. Many older attenders are unsettled, even exasperated by the changes, and make it their business to rally for some semblance of familiarity, for hymns and “praise choruses.” Some young and old, unimpressed by the high production values of today’s churches, are instead turning to liturgy, to quieter, ancient-future expressions of the faith, in order to meet an unhurried God. Others, seeking more organic community, are attending intimate, high-touch house churches. But the disturbing trend is that some people—from boomers to millennials—are choosing to leave the institution of the church entirely. Perhaps they have been jaded by the experience of church or the attitudes of the attenders, like Dorothy discovering the wizard behind the curtain. Or perhaps the world’s distractions are simply too big and too loud to ignore.

Certainly the church is in flux. And the implications for worship—and the worshiper—are many.

Now, I’m not doubting the sincerity or integrity of any of these churches or of their leaders. I firmly believe that these churches are filled with good-hearted, God-focused people who are trying to do their best to further the kingdom. I also don’t have anything against high-tech production or hip music or excellence in the arts. Cutting-edge worship music is a staple at the church I pastor, and for many years I’ve been an outspoken advocate for the arts in the church and for artists of faith. This is an exciting time to be an artist of faith, and I’m grateful to be a part of it all. Further, I have many friends and associates who minister in both small churches and megachurches, and I know them to be God-honoring Christ-followers. But there are pitfalls and tripwires all around these issues of which we must be acutely aware. As A.W. Tozer warned, “Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.”

At the crux of all these trends is the desire to help worshipers worship, to meet God in a transcendent and transformative way, and to give God glory. And that’s a good thing. The holes in our hearts can be filled only by God, and it is the calling of the church to help people become heart-filled and soul-alive.


—This article onm smoke machines was taken from chapter one, “Holy Smoke

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Songwriter, author, inventor, arts advocate, and pastor—Manuel Luz is passionate about worship, coffee, the Oakland Raiders, and the intersections of faith and the arts. Manuel’s book, Imagine That: Discovering Your Unique Role as a Christian Artist (Moody Publishers) is a practical and personal theology of the arts. His current book, Honest Worship: From False Self to True Praise (InterVarsity Press), released in Fall 2018, addresses the critical intersections between spiritual formation and worship. He is also the inventor of the patented musical instrument, the WalkaBout™, which recently won Best of Show at the world-renowned NAMM Show. Check out his thought-provoking blog, “Adventures in Faith and Art” (www.manuelluz.com), his four solo albums (iTunes), or the WalkaBout Drum (www.walkaboutdrum.com).