The Soul of the Church
Tags: Church Growth, Church Growth Movement, Ron Rhodes, Culting of America, Baby Boomers, Christian doctrine, Be Thou My Vision, Amazing Grace, Apostle Paul, John Dewey
lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of
men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (
The one who seeks after profits does not generally care about the intrinsic value of church life or worship and praise music. It does not matter to him that the importance of the church is body ministry and that church music is all about reaching into the deep parts of the human spirit. To him it is all about commercialism the marketing of music and generating cash. Its out with the piano and in with guitar-driven music to catch the attention of the younger generation. And you always have to keep that new material coming in order to keep up with the times. Theres no room for the old here. There is no time for nostalgia. You have to dump the organ and choir and get yourself a band if you are going to keep the pace. Get rid of the slow and reflective to turn to the high-energy stuff that gets people going. Reach out to the senses rather than the soul. Forget about ministering to the body of Christ when you are reaching to the world. Let the fights begin and let the old folks go along with their archaic music. For the ultimate target are the hymns that are not relevant anymore. They are not marketable.
But the pursuit of abandoning the heritage of the church for the sake of success is a formula for spiritual disaster. According to Ron Rhodes in The Culting of America, Baby Boomers are seeking a religion or church that specifically meets human felt needs. Time notes that while increasing numbers of baby boomers are turning religious again, many are traveling from church or faith to faith, sampling creeds, shopping for a custom-made God
Many Christian churches are seeking to lure these boomers into their congregations. Unfortunately, in the process, a number of them end up compromising Christian doctrine. Time reports that a growing choir of critics contends that in doing whatever it takes to lure those fickle customers, churches are at risk of losing their heritage and their souls.
In reality, many in the church are in the business of sacrificing everything for nothing. Music did not begin in the 60s and there is a whole lot in the hymnology that has been passed onto us that is vitally relevant today. And these hymns do not lack for passion. For example there are few praise songs today that can rival the passion and intimacy of the ancient Irish tune, Be Thou My Vision. And what worship song today exceeds the moving melody and text contained in Amazing Grace? Praise hymns such as these divulge deep spiritual truth. This is biblical truth that transcends generations. Hence, we do not need to shed the past in order to minister to the present age. It is not necessary to forsake our heritage in order to grow.
The claims of some roaming throughout the church today are just plain wrong in that regard. Therefore the Apostle Paul exhorted that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-Christ. (Eph 4:14-15 MKJV)
Its time to grow up and realize who we are as the church. We are not children. The church is 2000 years old with a rich heritage. And we are commanded in the Bible as mature Christians to grow up in all things not just new things. All things would include those things that God passed down to us from past generations that give us maturity and stability. So the contention that the old doesnt minister is hogwash plain and simple.
Sure the church is faced with the awesome task of reaching out to John Deweys dumbed down generation that cares more about their big screens than fine arts. This obviously is something that needs to be considered. But does that mean that we are supposed to leave the masses where Dewey put them? Are we called to limit ourselves to the common praise song themes such as I want to see Your face, I long to be in your presence, You are worthy, Be exalted, I worship You, I praise You, Worthy is the Lord, You are holy, Hallelujah, I want You, I need You, or I love You? Though it is imperative to love God, isnt there more to love than merely saying it over an over again? Isnt there more to praise than ecstatic shouts or syrupy sentiment? Isnt there more to Scripture and life as Christians than what we are hearing in so much of contemporary praise today? As the church, dont we have the responsibility to educate rather than merely relate? Is it not imperative that as well as meeting this generation where they are at we should create a worship environment at church where they can discover where Christianity is at? Shouldnt we seek out praise music that conveys biblical truth rather than sappy human emotional desires? Should we not impart our heritage to the babes so that they can mature? Isnt it time to sever ourselves from Deweys ongoing circle that tumbles down the slope of ignorance?
Christianity is all about separation. It is about a difference between the church and the unbelieving world around it. When we look at the church and its people, there ought to be a difference. When the world around is shedding itself of Christian heritage, the church ought to be standing for it.
As explained earlier, the ministry of Jesus divides people into two camps - the believer and unbeliever. Yet this same proposition has the effect of binding Christians together as one. The same doctrine that separates us from the world unites us together under the wings of our common belief in God. Therefore the Psalms proclaim: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. (Ps 133:1-2 MKJV)
However, when the church is divided from its rich heritage it tears the body of Christ in half. It sows division between young church attendees and the saints of old. It severs congregations into pieces and creates wars as church leadership discards traditions that many saints hold with high regard. These are the results that come out of the passion for growth at all cost. Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. (Rom 16: 17-18 MKJV)
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