Many Catholic and Protestant churches are adding prayer and chant practices from the ecumenical Taize community to draw in young people, according to the Wall Street Journal (April 3).
The Taize services, imported from the ecumenical community in France, are loosely structured and take place in dark rooms illuminated by candles. “A small group usually leads the roughly one-hour service of readings, periods of silence and repetitive songs in many languages.
People can come and go as they please, and they do . . . The market-research take on Taize is that its elements of chanting and contemplation make it a quintessential nineties mix of spirituality and individualism. Indeed, these days it is characteristic of 18-29-year-olds to customize their religious identities, drawing from several disparate sources . . .” writes Lisa Miller.
While young adults have journeyed to the Taize headquarters community in France for decades, there has been a recent surge of interest in making such pilgrimages, as well as customizing Taize services to college campus ministries. Young adults are drawn by the international feel of Taize, according to campus ministers.
Some clergy says the surge of interest in Taize is a cultural backlash against certain features of evangelical worship services, such as the “praise music” popular in megachurch and seeker-based churches. Praise music consists of highly emotional songs, usually accompanied by an electic band and rock-style vocalists; “Taize songs, in contrast, are introspective, sung in harmony, and accompanied by classical instruments or organs,” and are often based around one sentence or phrase repeated over and over, such as “Lord have compassion.”