At first glance the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago's downtown Grant Park is a perfect expression of the American penchant for personal preference. Walking through the festival entrance on a recent overcast Friday, my friend Bob and I were instantly faced with serious decisions. Festival goers studied their detailed, minute-by-minute agendas of which of the 130 bands they planned to see on the eight different stages. The Decemberists or Thievery Corporation at 6:00pm? The Killers or Jane's Addiction at 8:00pm?

Agonizing decisions, and because I'm a pastor they reminded me of the choices people must make when looking for a church. Whether a person wants to join a congregation or explore the faith, the options seem endless. Multi- or mono-ethnic? Welcoming to young families or 20-something hipsters? Cultural elites or the marginalized poor? Gospel proclamation or justice mindedness?

Like those searching for a church, the choices Bob and I had to make were about genres and categories. At noon, before the rain started, we heard Manchester Orchestra, a five-piece rock band from Georgia who play their music fast and loud. Next up was The Knux, two rapping brothers from New Orleans who had the crowd bouncing in time to their rhymes. After a brief stop to hear Thievery Corporation's electronica-infused world music, we strolled past the pulsing dance rhythms of Hollywood Holt and settled in for the folky harmonies and bushy beards of the Fleet Foxes.

The decision by the festival organizers to include such a variety of bands makes sense at a time when satellite radio offers dozens of stations aimed at every possible demographic. The idea of Casey Kasem's American Top 40 seems quaint when online stations offer listeners new and ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.