Chris Moyles’s commentary on charismatic worship

For those who don’t know, Chris Moyles is the most popular radio presenter in Britain; his morning show, on BBC Radio 1 (essentially a mainstream pop music station), attracts approaching 8m listeners. This video contains an extract from his show dubbed over the TV broadcast – of baptisms in a church in Peterborough – that they are discussing in the extract.


Four things strike me about the comments, considered as useful data for missional concern in the UK:
1. Moyles (who is 35) and his posse belong to a generation that is no longer reflexively cynical about church. Britain, and Europe, is often described as ‘post-Christian,’ but this phrase can mean two very different things, or so it seems to me. A culture can be ‘post-Christian’ in the sense that it has consciously turned away from its historic commitment to Christianity. Church is inevitably then regarded as comical, outdated, irrelevant. Or a culture can be ‘post-Christian’ in the sense that it has lost any memory of ever having been Christian. Church is then alien, but at least potentially interesting. I grew up with the tail-end of the former concept; Moyles, four years younger (and a lot more culturally current…), seems firmly in the latter. Across the country, I suspect Moyles’s attitude is common in urban and suburban areas, and more widely in SE England; here in rural Scotland, we are a bit behind the times on this one.
2. The clip also demonstrates the lack of even basic knowledge concerning Christianity that younger generations in Britain now have. This is a missional issue – the Alpha course, for instance, assumes a significant level of cultural Christian understanding in its teaching material.
3. What is it that Moyles found attractive about this church service? Two things, it seems to me. Obviously, enthusiasm, commitment, engagement was important – ‘I’ve been to gigs with less atmosphere’. The church presented itself as vibrant and exciting, and this is in itself attractive.
4. The second attraction, though, was the professionalism of the performance: ‘they had a proper perspex cage around the drum kit and everything…’ They were doing what they did well. No peeling paint, no worn carpets – and you just know that the after-service drinks were not served in institutional green tea-cups!


  1. craig gardiner
    Jun 16, 2009

    this is fantastic stuff, love it … the commentary anyway.

  2. Johnny Laird
    Jun 16, 2009

    Hey Steve

    ..some good thoughts on the Chris Moyles clip.

    Good stuff


  3. Kay
    Jun 18, 2009

    I have viewed this clip four times and each time it brought tears to my eyes. Not just because of the joyful worship and baptisms, but because it’s clear that the Holy Spirit was reaching out to touch others, even via TV!
    Amazing, awesome, wonderful – that’s our God.

  4. edmund
    Jul 7, 2009

    I object to RC services being called ‘boring’. If you’re paying attention and have faith, receiving the body and blood of Christ is not something you can tire of…! The trouble with ‘faith’ like this is it can be very superficial and evaporate as soon as you’re out the event. What is the church here doing to build up people’s knowledge of scripture and deepen their understanding of God?

  5. Steve H
    Jul 7, 2009

    Thanks for comments, folks.

    Edmund: I think the clip is interesting as ‘data for missional concern’ (second para above); I’m not saying Moyles is right in anything he says, but he has become a major public figure in part by articulating things that many young people feel. I take your point entirely about the awesome privilege at being present at the sacrifice of the Mass, but I suspect that, if we got together 100 teenagers who were baptised Catholic, but no longer attend Mass, and asked them why, ‘boring’ would be a common word. They may err in being wrong, but their former parishes have also erred in so presenting the faith that they have formed wrong impressions of it.

    As to what the church in the clip is doing ‘to build up people’s knowledge of scripture, &c.’ I suspect the answer is quite a lot, because in my experience most thriving churches in Britain are doing quite a lot in those directions, but from a video of a single song being sung it is rather difficult to make an informed judgement in either direction…

  6. Sarah
    Sep 4, 2009

    I’m from Kingsgate Community Church,Peterborough and wanted to let you know that we run Alpha and Beta courses throughout the year…have over 70 “Small Groups” that meet weekly for prayer and bible study (and socials!!),a celebrate recovery course,three youth groups,a social action group and a “Shareout” service which links to many homeless and social service groups,A marriage course ,and a personal finance course…to name a few of the ways we “build up the knowledge….etc”
    Come and visit….you will be warmly welcomed

    xx Sare xx

  7. andrew price
    Sep 9, 2009

    I wonder if he had sat through a sermon on sin, wrath, and hell, whether he would still be so keen!
    Mind you, it is good to hear him talking like that.

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