July 23, 2009

Break(dance)ing Tradition

Watch this video. It will be the most enjoyable five minutes you spend today. I know it's five minutes long, but trust me...watch it:

I'll risk my man-card by saying this, but the first time I watched it, I teared up. I'm not exactly sure why, (it's just a simple YouTube video called "JK Wedding Entrance Dance") but all I know is that watching this connected me to this wedding full of people that I don't know and made me root for what they are doing.

At my wedding, we wanted to do something a little different to break "tradition". It was a huge wedding (8 attendants each) in a historic sanctuary (First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa) with somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 people in attendance. It was very formal and pretty regal, but in the middle of it, I asked two of my friends to lead us in worship using three songs. One of those songs was "I'd Rather Have Jesus" which seems like an odd thing to sing at a wedding! But, I wanted people to see Christ in our lives and his priority in our marriage. We thought we were being very different.

Compared to this processional...we were wrong! (Disclaimer: I wouldn't change anything about my wedding. It was great.)

What we did was slap a new element into a traditional wedding service. What this wedding does is take convention and blow it out of the water.

Everyone is expecting Canon in D or Jesu, Joy of Man's Desire or the Bridal March. And instead they get Chris Brown's Forever.

Everyone is expecting the slow, awkwardly-escorted walk down the aisle of height-comparable couples. Instead they get a mixture of good and bad dancing along with cheesy sunglasses.

Everyone is expecting the groom to come from the side and await the bride. Instead, he front-rolls out of the crowd of dancing attendants, then dances back down the aisle to get her.

Everyone is expecting the bride to parade down the aisle. Instead, she dances. By the time she gets there, you can almost sense a longing to see what she's going to do when she appears.

Did you see anyone in the crowd who was disappointed? Did you see anyone who was frowning? NO! They're clapping and they actually erupt in cheering when the bride appears. When was the last time you saw that kind of celebration at a wedding?

People will be talking about this wedding ceremony for the rest of their lives. Nothing else they ever see at a wedding will ever compare to this. Ever.

You can also get ready to start seeing a slew of imitators who will try to recapture this same moment at their weddings, graduations and other events. And it will all come across for what it is: a copycat...and a bad one at that.

In a weird way, I think this is a perfect picture of what my church is trying to do right now. We're trying to provide people with an experience that is unforgettable, yet still accomplishes the purpose of connecting people with God. After all, this wedding's purpose was still accomplished...they were married.

This involves refusing to defer to tradition. It's also risky, because there are people who want to see the expected week in and week out. But we're trying to reach people who are not reached by the expected. Instead of Canon in D (which is much more high brow, familiar and classical) we're more like Forever (more accessible, electronic and you can tap your feet to it...plus it involves some sketchy characters).

Why not do something different? Why not give people an experience that they won't soon forget, especially when the only other weddings they go to all do the same (or only slightly different) things? Why not give them a celebration that makes them long for the star of the show (read: Jesus) to appear and culminate what's happening?

Do the unexpected, and do it with a purpose.

1 comment:

Jeremiah said...

Excellent thoughts, and my reaction to the wedding video was, "Why didn't we think of that?!!" ... and nice disclaimer to your wife in the rare chance she happens to read your post (does she even know your have a blog?).