The Who, A Metaphor for an Effective Church?

(NOTE: I hope this blog will be a place I can post half-baked ideas and grow them with input from others.  I’m interested in your feedback, and hope you’ll take time to post any opinions you have in the comments section below.)

I’ve been listening to the new remastered version of The Who’s Quadrophenia album.

It only re-enforces one of my longest-held beliefs: The Who is the greatest rock band of all time.

It’s all about the talent.  The Who had the best bass player (John Entwhistle), the most insane drummer (Keith Moon), one of the greatest songwriters who was also an excellent guitarist (Pete Townshend), and if he didn’t have the richest voice, Roger Daltrey was the most dramatically expressive singer in rock.

When all that talent combined as The Who, the result was not chaotic cacophony but what I’ll call sublime pandemonium.   It’s especially clear on live recordings, particularly Live At Leeds (the greatest live rock album of all time.)  I invite you to listen to any of the tracks on Live at Leeds five times.  (I’ve done it, but only in the car and only when driving by myself.  It tends to drive innocent bystanders crazy.)  Listen four times, each time focusing on a different member of the band, and then step back and listen to the whole.

In most bands the bass and drums are the rhythm section, laying down the beat, but what Moon and Entwhistle are up to is so much more than that.  They’re going off on their own flights of musical fancy, banging away at the bass strings and the drums, each one playing some other song that’s in his head somewhere.  You’ll hear Townshend’s guitar struggling to fill the rhythmic void and keep the beat, but he can’t help but veer off sporadically in his own crashing direction.  And Daltrey is all over the place with the vocals – he could be singing a capella in the shower for all he seems to care about what the other three are doing.

When you listen to the whole,  it all comes together.  On the best Who Albums (besides Live at Leeds . . .Quadrophenia, Who’s Next, Who Are You), each track is the powerful sum of what could easily be way-too-disparate parts.  But it works.  Each song is not so much the product or the result but rather a sort of unifying force under-girding the MUSIC that’s created.

Something like an effective church?  Or am I deluded by my admiration for The Who?

A church is a group of people gathered together by the Holy Spirit.  Each of those people brings not only unique experiences, but unique talents that are gifts of that same Holy Spirit.  Some folks are vocalists or guitarists, others are insane drummers.  Perhaps one thing that holds back the full unleashing of the Holy Spirit is when we try to get everyone to play the melody, to do things “the way we do them here.”  (Which reminds me of the seven last words of a dying church . . . “We’ve always done it that way before.”)

It can be scary when church members do things their own way – the way that works for them because of their background or personality or whatever.  There is sure to be some confusion and even occasional conflict.  BUT, isn’t this the way it’s supposed to work?  The early church as described in Acts was pretty confused and conflicted . . . but the Gospel spread like wildfire.

As long as there is that under-girding song, the music of the Holy Spirit, will God’s ministry happen more powerfully in a church when people are “unleashed?”

I’m not talking about complete anarchy, but that’s not the typical problem in churches.  It’s the other end of the spectrum, when the pendulum swings all the way to control, that dams the talents of  individuals from the ministry of the church.

One way to express this middle way would be coordination rather than the extremes of anarchy or control.

Of course, I’m not doing anything that Paul didn’t write about in I Corinthians 12.  I’m just modifying parts of the body in his analogy to members of the band.

Or maybe not.  What do you think – IS The Who a metaphor for an effective church?

About pastordavesimpson

I'm an unexpected pastor. Why unexpected? Because no one is more surprised than me that I'm a pastor. See the "About" page on my blog for more info.
This entry was posted in Church, Rock bands, The Holy Spirit, The Who. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Who, A Metaphor for an Effective Church?

  1. says:

    Thank you for this wonderful analogy, and I love the idea of coordination rather than control. I like to think of myself as an insane drummer studying the play the guitar. 🙂 There is not one right way to worship God. Allowing people the freedom to worship in their own way, with a complete understanding of their religion is the best way, IMO. There seems to be a “magical effectiveness” in our church and for me, the blessings keep coming. I love that you are blogging!


  2. Pam Winnie says:

    I agree with Julie’s comment. Plus, I love the fact that you used the Who as the metaphor! One of my all time favorite rock bands! I forwarded it on to my own teenagers too. We still miss you up here in Joppa, but so thankful to stay connected in anyway. One of the perks of social networking! We want to come down and to see you in person some Sunday soon!
    Love to you, Karen and the kids!


  3. Michael Horsman says:

    First, I agree with Pam. We sure do miss you at Trinity. My f/b friendship with her is what brought me to your blog. What I read will keep me coming back for more. You make some very tought provocking points. The brain needs to be exercised. thank you for that.


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