Rob Warner (lecturer in Sociology of Religion and Practical Theology, University of Wales, Lampeter) has just had his doctoral dissertation (from KCL under Andrew Walker) published by Paternoster: Reinventing English Evangelicalism 1966-2001: A Theological and Sociological Study. I'll post a review later, but I think this description of charismatic worship is unfortunately and sadly right:
This kind of contemporary song [he's referring to songs by Martin Smith, Paul Oakley and others] promotes a universal ecstatic spirituality that promises a sustainedly passionate devotion to Christ, with the expectations that every believer will speak truth to all mankind and that whole towns are presently filled with joy and compelled by the Gospel. Neither the New Testament nor church history gives credence to such expectations. Given the current condition of the church in Western Europe such songs indulge a wilful disregard for reality. They represent a heavy cocktail of the promise of an altered state of consciousness through exuberant singing - the charismatic equivalent of clubbing - combined with the exaggerated hopes of entrepreneurial evangelicals, persisting in denial faced with the failure of inflated promises.
The SH annual songbook has made a considerable contribution to the rapid reconfiguration of evangelical worship and has facilitated the emergence of new songwriters. It has also commodified music in worship, providing disposable worship songs with an imminent sell-by-date. Contemporaneity has been secured, while eccentricities of spirituality and exaggerated claims of present day success have been promoted. Here is a Mephistophelean pact with modernity: the hidden price tags are a ruptured tradition, a heightened potential for a theologia gloriae unfettered to a theologia crucis, a growing biblical illiteracy, a replacement of parousia hope with expectations of imminent success, and a quasi-gnostic, ecstatic and escapist spirituality (pp.84-85).
Rob writes as an insider to the evangelical movement, having been on the leadership of Spring Harvest and a Baptist minister in Wimbledon. The book and this quotation reflects some disillusionment with popular evangelical charismania.