First things first. WHAT’S A BASS DROP? Well, it’s an EDM (electronic dance music term) used to describe a moment in a song when the bass line rhythm suddenly “drops” or changes. They are sonic intrusions into the natural flow of a song. Bass drops, besides being intrusions, also add structure to a song, mark transitions, build anticipation and excitement, reinforce musical themes, and often evoke an emotional/visceral response that lead to people saying things like: “ah, man, that bass drop is sick.” Well, if you haven’t heard one I can tell you, they can be pretty awesome. Probably best to judge for yourself though (Start about 1:10, drop is at 1:19. Happily Skrillex announces drop just before by saying, “drop the bass”)
Though the term “bass drop” is not biblical, I think God uses them…a lot: creation, burning bushes, fiery pillars, covenants, incarnation, resurrection, Pentecost, the call in your life…all divine intrusions, all very strong examples of God dropping the bass and saying…yep…things ain’t what you think they are…look again…be transformed…
Maybe in some settings an EDM bass drop would be appropriate and lead people to a deeper faith in Jesus Christ. For many settings…well…not so much. Bass drops do have lessons to teach worship leaders, though, about the benefits of liturgical intrusions into the natural flow of a service, of adding structure, marking transitions, building anticipation and excitement, reinforcing musical/theological themes, and evoking an emotional response. So what could a LITURGICAL BASS DROP look like?
- Pentecost – Magician’s Flash Paper – Use magicians flash paper during announcements, children’s message, reading of the Pentecost story, and/or benediction. A tad gimmicky perhaps but maybe that’s OK once in a while. A simple light and the paper will flash, burn completely, and leave an impression on young and old alike.
- Silence of God – During a service that touches upon the silence of God – Silence is something congregations expect at points during worship (before a service begins, silent prayer times, etc.). What about using silence in unusual places? a) before or during a sermon, b) in place of a call to worship, c) at the end of the service. How about all three? Use this liturgical bass drop, to move from talking about silence to experiencing it.
- Youth & Children – Repeated leadership by children on a Sunday other than Sunday School Sunday – Many churches include a children’s sermon in worship. The expectation is that children come forward for a talk or object lesson at one particular time. What if the children came forward multiple times? What if that action of youth and children coming forward as a group was repeated in conjunction with the offering, Holy Communion and benediction? What if the Gospel reading that day was Matthew 19:14 (“let the little children come to me”).
- Music – Repeated refrain – Often congregational music is “one and done”…hymn is sung, we move on. What if a refrain (or even a whole hymn) is repeated multiple times throughout a service (e.g. as gathering music, in middle of a sermon, as prayer response). Could be a refrain from a well known hymn…a scripture verse for the day set to a well-known hymn tune, etc. Try to find one with a heavy bass line 😉
- Projection – In many churches, simply using projection is an unusual experience. In our church, we use projection sometimes, but not always. When people walk into our sanctuary and simply see that the projector is out the bass is dropped. Beyond that, projected images/film clips can be used along with prayers, during hymn singing, and along with sermons to transform the worship experience and to help people connect visually and emotionally.
- Holy Communion – Celebrate Communion in a different way, different place in the liturgy, or with a different frequency – In my tradition most of our congregations celebrate communion only once/month or even only quarterly. Sometimes I feel like it is experienced by some/many in my congregation as just something we do once in a while that takes 15 extra minutes. To help people reconnect with this central ritual of our faith, consider using a different liturgy, moving it to a different place in the service, or maybe even celebrate it more often than you usually do (say every Sunday for a whole month). Not only will this potentially transform the experience of Communion for some, it will also transform the experience of the entire service.
A few ideas about how to build liturgical bass drops into your congregation’s worship. What kind might bear fruit in your setting?
© Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen, 2016