In week five of The Apprentice, one team produced and marketed a brand of pet-food called "Every Dog". The philosophy behind the brand was simple: manufacture a product that can be sold to as many dog-owners as possible. Own a labrador? Try Every Dog. Own a poodle? Try Every Dog. Own a rottweiler? Try Every Dog.
The creators of Every Dog would not stop there, however. Their plans were global, with the "Every" series reaching out to cats, goldfish, hamsters, and possibly even humans one day if all goes well. "Every Human: For every day, there's Every Human. Now available in North Korea."
While the goal of creating a food suitable for every dog proved to be unattainable, the philosophy behind the project is surely in step with the age we live in: appeal to as many as possible, monopolise the market, make people's choice the same as everybody else's.
With that in mind, allow me to formally introduce you to the latest brand that has swept across the globe at an incredible rate. It is called Every Worship. "For every Sunday, there's Every Worship". It shares the same philosophy as its pet-food counterpart, but the difference is that this brand can be (in fact, has proved to be) a huge success. Go to any local church and the chances are you'll experience the generic, universal delights of Every Worship...though it must be said that some churches are much better at it than others. There is a science to it; a formula to be followed. But there is no art, because art is particular. There is no art, because art is cultural, and Every Worship suppresses culture.
What we don't hear about amidst the subtle takeover that Every Worship has achieved is the cost -- the opportunity cost -- of its hegemony. What does Irish music sound like in Irish churches? What particular words do Irish men, women and children have to sing to their God? We do not know, because most of us have drunk deeply from the Every Worship well, and in doing so have forgotten that we can drink from our own.
What's more, attend an Irish church and hopefully you will be joining with people from tribes and tongues that are foreign to these shores. That is part of the gospel's beauty. But by consuming Every Worship, we have created an easy unity through cultureless worship, and thus tamed the explosive power of the gospel to create a diverse community out of strangers. What if, instead, our worship was expressed through all the different cultures that participate in it? It would be clumsy and awkward for a few and for a while, but it would be rich in meaning and artistry and truthfulness. It would be a taste of new creation, creating an undomesticated understanding and unity between diverse peoples as only the sharing of our musical and lyrical heritage can create.
This is particular worship, participated in by particular people in particular times and places.
Every Worship must be named for what it is - the suppression of cultural diversity, creative artistry, and particular truthfulness. In other words, the suppression of what the church is called to embody.