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DJ-led worship sets look to connect youth to God

A music producer-turned-priest is using dance music to connect with people, spread the Christian message and attract the younger generations into church, reports churchofengland.org

The Revd Simon Stride, Curate at Holy Trinity, Stalybridge, in Cheshire has had a passion for dance music since his early teens and his combined interests in theology and dance music have helped guide his spiritual direction through his adult life. 

Since his early days as an ordinand, Simon has led DJ worship ranging from Christian clubland-style events complete with strobe lights and smoke machines for youth congregations – to ‘chill-out’ compline services, using soundscapes and atmospheric music tracks to help people meditate on scripture. 

“I feel it's part of my calling to use the skills I learnt in this area as part of worship – to enable people to connect with God through dance and electronic music,” he explained. 

“We’ve also started seeing more young people bring their friends to these church events for the first time.” 

Simon even ran a ‘Resurrection Rave’ with headlining DJ Bazz Morgan (Velocity of Light).

“We wanted to create something that would attract young people to church and also communicate the Christian message and the meaning of the Resurrection,” he explained.

The Saturday night clubbing worship event proved to have a deep impact on those attending.

“It was a very moving moment to see almost every single person in the church, including those attending church for the first time, respond to Jesus in their own way at the foot of the cross,” he said.

Simon encourages other churches to consider running DJ worship events, as a way of broadening their appeal to the younger generation. 

“God is not limited to specific genres of music,” he explained. 

“The great thing about dance music is that it provides a way for young people to encounter God through a culture that is familiar to them – and the music is uplifting and full of energy.”

  • The Church of England's Vision and Strategy for the 2020s is helping us to be a Church which proclaims and lives out the Good News of Jesus Christ afresh in every generation.
  • Revd Simon Stride credits faith-based DJ and producer Andy Hunter with originally inspiring him to pursue Electronic Dance Music (EDM) led worship and paving the way for him to take it into the Anglican Church. 
  • Simon has established a Christian DJ network in the UK to spread his vision for faith-based dance music, producing and collaborating on tracks and releasing them on the Worship Music Recordings label, via Beatport and Mixcloud – two of the world's most recognised dance music platforms.
  • EDM is a broad term for up-tempo music made using synthesisers and drum machines, characterised by hard-hitting drumbeats, driving basslines and euphoric melodies.

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