Unfortunately for worshipers everywhere, “The Girlfriend Effect,” which I wrote about back in June of 2021 in The “Girlfriend Effect” and How It’s Ruining Worship Music, still exists and pervades the worship music scene throughout America. Scores of Churches still worship with shallow theology, repeatedly placing love songs, overladen with modern pop tropes, into modern worship services. What I did not know back in 2021, however, was that this problem has been around for longer than anyone could have ever imagined.
Look back to 1992, for example. In the year that ended the Cold War, Whoopi Goldberg played a lounge singer named Deloris Wilson in the movie “Sister Act.” Forced into a convent through a witness protection program, Wilson tries to acclimate to the quiet convent life. She understandably has issues doing so, and is eventually given the opportunity to direct the convent’s struggling choir.
After going through a wildly chaotic plot involving a bounty hunt, reviving a Catholic Church’s weekly attendance and the late Pope John Paul II, Wilson is safe from the danger that put her into witness protection and she gets one final opportunity to lead worship for her convent. Check out her performance for a good laugh here:
Wilson, along with the convent’s choir, covers Peggy March’s 1963 Billboard Number 1 hit, “I Will Follow Him.” The song, ostensibly a declaration of love from a woman to her beau, is actually a great piece of 60s pop, released before the Beatles’ British invasion changed popular music styles forever. It reflects classic 60s values, specifically a dedication from the singer that “He’ll always be my true love / From now until forever.” Nothing like a 1960s song reflecting actual dedication to one’s significant other, am I right?
Unfortunately, the song perfectly portrays how a shallow, vague love song can replace actual worship music. Using the song in a convent’s worship service pokes fun at the current state of modern worship. Like a plastic plant imitates a real flower, the song in this context is trying to imitate real worship, but without the presence of depth and meaning that makes a worship song holy and meaningful.
While I don’t exactly expect a movie about a Catholic nun played by Whoopi Goldberg to have great theology in its music, it’s concerning at the very least to realize that worship music today is all too often similar to the soulless pop songs sung in the movie. Do “We Dance” by Bethel (Here in Your arms, You steal my heart again / And I breathe You in like I’ve never breathed till now) or “Draw Me Close” by Michael W. Smith ( You are my desire, No one else will do / ‘Cause nothing else can take your place, To feel the warmth of your embrace) really have any deeper meaning than “I Will Follow Him?”
In offering our best to God, there must be some level of critique we can level on our worship music. If Churches are using these bland, vague love songs in a formal worship setting, are we really giving this area our full attention or striving to do our best? Worship is an incredibly important part of coming together as a Church body. If this is what even the general public thinks that worship sounds like in modern America, we need to do a lot of soul-searching to rediscover the roots of Christian worship. God help us should Whoopi Goldberg ever lead worship in a Church again.
Hi, my name is Jackson Thompson and I am a student at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul where I am studying for my bachelor’s degree in History. When I’m not reading up on the Napoleonic wars, I can be found listening to/playing music, beating my friends at Bonanza or enjoying the immaculate flavor of a Wisconsin cheese curd.