Guru Woo Woo
Actions Speak Louder
Tags: Church Growth, Church Growth Movement, Church growth consultants, worship leader, conservative, liberal, Conservative Christian, Conservative Christian theology, Evangelical, evangelism, post modern church, modernism, praise and worship, hymns, hymn singing, New Worship, dualism, dualistic, Great Commission, Richard Quebedeaux, The Young Evangelicals, Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, Holy of Holies
Though many pastors sincerely believe that they understand the dynamics of worship and praise as they exist in the church today, they are faced with significant problems as they attempt to get their congregations on board with their vision. In spite of the fact that they lecture their flocks over and over again on the subject of worship and music, and even devote entire sermon series to the effort, the body keeps fighting among themselves. Based upon their own personal preferences the flock doesnt see this music as worship or that music as appropriate for church. And no one seems to agree what music this or that music is.
I have known some pastors to become very impatient with the whole issue. They want to get the church going in a new direction but the old folks are just not getting with it. These frustrated enthusiasts will mumble under their breath things that sound like they cant wait until the old folks pass on so that they can move on with their contemporary agenda. After all, it seems pretty crazy that these stubborn traditionalists cant get with the program in spite of the fact that they had been shown specifically from the Word what worship is all about.
Then the young folks just dont seem to have any patience at all with hymns. These praise songs are just too old fashioned and boring for their liking. Yet since the younger crowd is seen as the future of the church, they are the ones who seem to be getting the most appeasement. So hymns are relegated to token appearances in the service until the old folks live out their years. Then, the pastor surmises, the church will really be able to get with it. In the mean time, the war continues on regardless of what the pastor preaches. And he cannot understand why the point doesnt get across which he is certain would allow everyone to get along.
However, actions speak louder than words. And there are a lot of actions out there that dont match up to the talk. Too much is done in practice that represents a hindrance to the admirable effort of leading the church in praise. Until these obstacles are removed, the controversy will remain.
The most potent but hard to detect reason for division has to do with the way many worship and praise people define and practice worship. Because of the emotional appeal that the style represents, they tend to see the singing of their special New Worship songs as being the alpha and omega of the Christian worship experience. Christianity in this case is divided into spiritual hierarchies where the singing of praise songs reigns at the top and hymns lie buried deep in discarded hymnals. For example, it is not uncommon during the church service for someone on the platform to declare right before the praise team enters, Now lets worship the Lord. This leads to the question: What have they been doing the rest of the time? What were they doing the week before, on the way to church, during their Sunday morning prayer group, as they met people in the lobby, when they gave the announcements, or when they sang the opening hymn?
This contemporary notion that worship is an event that is entirely encompassed in singing modern worship and praise songs has naturally progressed from a long held philosophy that has been maintained in the church for decades now. While under the auspices of separating themselves from the world, churches have been taking in dualistic bate for a considerable amount of time to miss the point that worship is about daily living for God.
Dualism is the belief that the supernatural or spiritual world is inherently good and the physical world is inherently evil. Therefore the only pursuits that are worth going after are those that have nothing to do with the physical realm and everything to do with the supernatural realm. Since the 20th and into the 21st centuries, the philosophy of dualism has been actively leading pastors to believe that pursuits in the organized church are spiritual, whereas pursuits in the world are unspiritual. Therefore, according to modern dualists, the entirety of ministry is encompassed in what is accomplished in and through the Established Church. Ministry in the world in those cases is hardly recognized as valid. Unless one is ministering within the organized structure of the church, he is considered not to be ministering at all, he is backslidden or even worse.
Worship for many today, therefore, is reduced to what occurs in the church. Hence the word worship service has come to mean, when we worship in church as opposed to when we havent been worshipping out in the world. And the whole definition of worship becomes narrower and narrower from that point onward as the understandings of sacred and secular take on new innovative meanings.
With my kids I always emphasized the Great Commission and the fact that true Christianity is that which is lived out in the community. Its easy enough to be spiritual in church and do the things that are expected of us. But it is quite another thing to live righteously in the world. To stand as an example to those who are not saved. In the same way, its pretty easy to worship and praise God in church along with everyone else. It is much more difficult to do so out there where many times one stands alone.
My kids took my go ye therefore admonitions seriously. Hence they brought their Christian beliefs with them to school as they participated in classes, various musical endeavors and sports programs. Their passion was sports and they played on the school teams throughout the year.
However, they also wanted to be involved in church. Brandon and Jacqulene were attending a church high school youth group at the time and Jacqulene had a desire to be a part of the leadership there. In response to her zeal the youth leader, while insisting that her involvement in her high school sports program was a carnal activity, forced her to choose between sports and leadership in the youth group. She chose the unspiritual course.
This ultimatum was very interesting to me because I had already seen the impact that my kids had on others around them as a result of their love for God as they played football, baseball, volleyball and softball. Both Jacqulene and Brandon had made quite an impression on their teachers, coaches and fellow students as a result. For example, Jacqulene invited one of her softball teammates to go to church and the young lady was eventually saved as a result. The friend later worked as an administrative assistant in a church. Brandon had so impressed the high school baseball players, coaches and parents with his acts of integrity, that after the Section Championship game the father of the most troublesome player on the team came up to me in tears talking about the impact that Brandon had in his and his sons lives. Our youngest son Brett had also gained the admiration and love of his teammates and coaches due to his fun loving personality. But his greatest love was architecture and he continued in that direction through college while turning the heads of his teachers and employer with his talent that was augmented by his diligent and respectful behavior.
Ironically, both Brandon and Jacqulene
continued to play their favorite sports together at
There was another unspiritual
kid up there named Greg. Greg played on the football team with
Richard Quebedeaux wrote in The Young Evangelicals, What is particularly unfortunate about this situation. . . is the fact that the young person who is not called into the ministry often feels like a second-class citizen in his own church. In their zeal to recruit full-time Christian servants, orthodox congregations have lost an adequate understanding of what constitutes a Christian vocation (Rom 12 and I Cor 12). Very little effort is made to relate secular professions of any kind to the concept of Christian service.
Too many times for pastors it is all about what is done in church that makes the difference. As long as you give your 10% to God, which is translated as giving to the church, you dont have to worry about what you do with the rest of your money. So you end out with parishioners who faithfully give their 10% while cheating people out in the world. Christian service is generally seen as service in the church, be it Sunday school leadership, outreach ministry or joining the choir. In the mean time many of these church workers do everything the church leadership asks, while accomplishing nothing for others in their community.
Often people put on a face at church while living a whole different life at home. Its like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. You have the nice spiritual person at church who knows all of the right jargon to say in order to impress others. And then you have unscrupulous businessman out in the world, the impatient and cruel father or the callous and dominating husband.
All of this comes out of a misunderstanding of what worship is all about. It emanates out of a belief system that insists that worship is an event. Worship to these folk is something that occurs within the confines of the church. Worship of God to many transpires at a particular place within a certain context. And with the rise of contemporary worship and praise music, some have taken it a step further to designate worship as something that specifically occurs precisely when modern New Worship songs are sung. This narrow definition of worship includes only that experience when one is elevated to a particular supernatural or other-world consciousness where God can be finally beheld. Many call it entering in to the Holy of Holies where hidden knowledge of God exists. Accompanying that belief is ignorance of the fact that God is all-present in everything and that He can be seen in His creation and in the events that surround us every day. Not so to these people, it is when these praise songs are sung in a particular fashion that God reveals Himself.
So the pastor or the praise leader stands before the congregation to declare right before the praise team begins, Now lets come before the Lord and worship Him and He will reveal Himself, as if God is so small that He cannot be seen or worshipped in any other way.
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