Rantings about Relevancy in Worship...

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by ScottEmerson, May 19, 2003.

  1. ScottEmerson

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    It's happened for a really, really long time. New musical inventions come out (whether it is actual physical instruments or new ways of playing, such as new chords, rhythms, and so on) and Christian groups adopt them to praise the living God. It's about making worship relevant. I'm absolutely convinced that the ministries of Jesus Christ, Phillip, and Paul allowed God's word to become relevant to the population that they were reaching, whether it was a woman at a well (Jesus used the idea of living water - what a great concept!), speaking to an Etheopian eunuch (what a great conversation that would have been!), or speaking to a temple with an idol addressed to "An unknown God" (IN which we see Paul change the way he speaks from talking to the Jews in the synagogue and then the Greeks in their temple.)

    All throughout the BIble we see instances where, although God's message does not change, the way it comes to humanity differs depending on the population. In the same way, we deal (at least I deal in my ministry) with a population that is much different than the population was 50, 100, or 2,000 years ago. The message of the Living God doesn't change, but to make it relevant to their times and their sensibilities, I use the "koine" language and methods of the day. Just as Jesus did. Just as Phillip did. Just as Paul did.

    Some people don't like that. My guess is that these people haven't spent a lot of time with Generation Y and the internet generation of students who are out there. If they would get to know them, they would realize the impact that praise and worship music has on them - and how scores of young people are coming to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. And isn't that what the gospel is all about?

    Some of you have your hymns. That's fine and great. But my ministry includes music that some of the older folk don't care much for. And my ministry requires me to know what is going on in the secular world. The difference is that I have an alternative to what is out there - an alternative to the Christina Aguilera's, Limp Biskit's, and Eminem's. I have heard all of these artists; I have had some students come who have never heard Christian music - this is the language they know. It messes them up when I tell them that I know about this kind of music. They don't feel shut out of the church anymore because they are not spiritual enough. God then is able to work in their lives.

    I often ask a lot of people what the first question is when they think of the word "church." It's a great opening to share Jesus Christ with someone. I'm amazed at the answers they give me. The most common is this: "I really don't like church. They make me feel that i'm not good enough to be there. It's like they are pointing a finger at me." How dare any of us make a non-believer feel such a way! "It's not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick!" One of my goals in ministry is to create an environment where people leave from the group for the first time saying the opposite thing - "I really like church! They made me feel that I belonged there. They embraced me and accepted me for who I was." I'm all about letting Jesus Christ change people - not me. I can't do it, as much as I want (And I'm a trained marriage and family therapist, so change is what I'm all about!)

    For those of you who don't like CCM, who think it is of Satan, who wish to condemn those who sing it, listen to it, or lead worship with it, I ask you to consider what kind of tone you are sending to those who do not know Jesus Christ as their Saviour. For those who are lurking and never post here. For those who you interact with at work or at school. For those who are looking for Jesus Christ, and you're the closest thing to Him that they may see for awhile.

    For those of you who do like CCM, and cannot understand "hymn-only" people, I ask that you give them a break as well. Perhaps they are worshipping God the best way that they know how. In presenting an attitude of the same kind of love and peace that we sing about in our music, maybe - just maybe - they can see that what we sing is more than just words. We sing a message - a message to the world and a message to our Redeemer.

    And for those who are in a ministry position aroudn here, remember that music is only a tool. God gave us music to glorify Him and to sing praises to His name. He delights in our praises - he inhabits our praise. Set an example with your music, whatever that music is. Lift up songs to the Lord, whether you like the music or not. By setting an example, other people will know and realize that it is all right to sing, clap, raise hands, or whatever. Just be real. Just praise.
     
  2. Molly

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    Scott,

    I disagree...I do think,as believers,we should love sinners and reach out to them in our daily lives...truly caring for them and showing them Christ through our lives(actions and words),but I disagree with your statement about making the lost feel comfortable at church. I don't think we should make them feel uncomfortable,either. I think church should be like nothing they have ever experienced...it should convict them of their sin and they should feel concerned about their sin...

    I believe churches should function this way:

    Believers come together to be equipped through genuine worship,the Word of God preached and taught,etc...then these equipped believers go out into the marketplace and share Christ to lost ones...they(the lost) are saved and then come to church as believers.

    We can't have people who do not love the things of God depict what are churches are to be like. We need to be authentic,holy,set apart,and God will do the work of salvation to bring those to Himself...hopefully through our obedience of sharing the gospel to those we are in contact with.

    As far as music goes,I am not opposed to new songs per se...but I am opposed to music that is not God-honoring...and we need great men of God discerning these things. We do not need men who make church appealing to the world....this brings down the name of the Lord and makes Him something others can jive with instead of seeing a Holy God and the sinners that we are.

    There is a basic fundmental mix up going on in churches and it involves this seeker sensitive mentality...the church becomes weak and the numbers may seem to grow,but really...where are the true believers who really love God and the things of God?

    Molly
     
  3. DanielFive

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    Molly,

    I think you've hit the nail on the head there. [​IMG]

    Scott,
    I can see where you are coming from even if I disagree.

    Of course as Christians we have a duty to make people feel welcome in our churches, we do this by speaking to them and maybe inviting them to wait behind after the service for coffee/tea etc.

    As Christians we certainly have no right to point the finger at them, we were in the same position at one time, we are only sinners saved by grace.

    It seems from your statement that there is a problem with the people in these Churches rather than there being any problem with the service.

    You are elevating the music/hymns part of the service as if its more important than the preaching. The whole purpose of inviting non-believers into our churches is so that they might hear the Gospel and might be brought under conviction of sin. The Gospel message is the same today as it always has been, if it leaves people feeling 'spiritually uncomfortable' we should rejoice in this and pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in their hearts long after the service is over.

    In my experience, I remember what it was like for me coming into Church for the first time three years ago. I had no love for hymns and listened to groups like U2, Radiohead, etc etc, I had never sung a hymn in my life. Hymn music didn't appeal to me on any level, but I can honestly say that since I have become a Christian that has changed completely. When you become a new creature the Lord changes your heart, you have new likes and new dislikes. For me, the traditional hymns feed my spirit, they give me a joy that other types of music can never equal.

    I find it difficult to understand where any Christian is coming from when they say they don't like hymns.

    God Bless

    Enda
     
  4. AdoptedDaughter

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    </font>[/QUOTE]Wow! I was actually quoted!

    Scott, I understand and see and even agree with you. But I think that the best thing is a mixture of both the old hymns and the more contemperary music. And there is nothing wrong with instruments...after all, we're told to praise Him with them!
     
  5. ScottEmerson

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    By confortable, I most certainly do NOT mean that they should feel that they should be satisfied with who they are. I don't buy into that - Jesus Christ loves them too much for them to stay the way they are. By comfortable, I mean we should create an environment of love that is unlike anything they've experienced before - a community that truly desires to get to know the visitor and reach out to him or her. I do not believe in watering down a message at all - anyone who has heard me speak to my kids knows this is true! I believe that we are on the same page here, honestly - perhaps I just didn't explain myself well enough!

    While I think that it should most definately have these functions, I am also aware that my church and my group often has many people who are searching for something. Many of them have been invited by a friend or colleague. Some just "drop" in because they've heard about what we are doing. If they are not "comfortable" - that is, if they do not feel welcome - then they will understand Christianity to be something that it is not. Twenty or so years ago, our culture was to the point where a non-saved individual could come to a service and have a good chance of being saved the first time there. Now, our culture is much farther away. We have to develop relationships with them, and allow God to work in their lives. From my experience with students, it takes a month or so for a student to truly allow God to do a work - something that wasn't there 20 years ago.

    Absolutely, but might I add this? We also need to be loving, giving, serving, reaching out. I love the idea of being authentic. That's what I really believe SO many people are looking for, and just not finding. They want someone who can be themselves - and as Christians, we should just be people who are madly in love with the living Jesus Christ!

    Hopefully, in my ministry, I am that man of God! [​IMG] There are many praise songs I will not sing, because of bad theology or trite lyrics. I don't want to make church appealing to the world - I want the world to draw closer to Jesus Christ. In the music that we do here, we want others - Christians and non-Christians alike - to see Holy God and see the sin in our lives. I believe that is what Psalm 24 is all about: Realizing that God is the majestic creator of all, understanding our sin and our place, then coming with clean hands and a pure heart to celebrate the awesome power of God!
     
  6. ScottEmerson

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    Of course as Christians we have a duty to make people feel welcome in our churches, we do this by speaking to them and maybe inviting them to wait behind after the service for coffee/tea etc.

    As Christians we certainly have no right to point the finger at them, we were in the same position at one time, we are only sinners saved by grace.

    It seems from your statement that there is a problem with the people in these Churches rather than there being any problem with the service.</font>[/QUOTE]I think there is a definite problem with people in these churches.

    Not more important. Just as important.

    Perhaps my response earlier will help you out - I didn't mean spiritually comfortable - more like socially and personally comfortable.

    That's great! (I hust hope that Aaron doesn't see that it gives you joy - heaven forbid that is seen as "sensual" as he calls it!)

    You will admit, though, that there are many committed, on-fire Christians for which praise and worship songs feed their spirit. There are many non-Christians who will just turn their dial off during "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" with all of the "thee's" and "thou's." We have to reach them where they are.

    Ask them. I find it difficult to understand where any Christian is coming from when they say they don't like praise and worship music. I really do.
     
  7. AdoptedDaughter

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    Let me ask a few questions...
    1. Why don't you like certain types of music?
    2. Why don't you like certain types of Christian music?
    3. If you don't like CCM, why not?

    Well...the answers may be slightly the same as to why a Christian may not like hymns.

    God has given us each different tastes (that's where individuality comes in). And because we have different tastes, we will like different things. Hymnals are something that need to grow on younger people. For me, I'm fine with them, but when I have to choose between singing a hymnal or CCM, I will choose CCM because that's where my vocal abilities lie. I didn't like hymns when I was younger because it was slow tempo and made me sleepy. But now, I will read the words before singing them with the congregation, and then I also ask God to set my heart prepared for worship, whether it be the hymnals or the worship choruses that the music director has prepared for that day.

    Hope that helps some!
     
  8. ScottEmerson

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    I appreciate your wisdom and honesty in this area. I, too, approach God with the expectation of worship, whatever that mode of worship is.
     
  9. Molly

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    Just one more comment about the title...God does not call us to be relevant,He calls us to be Holy...God and His word are always relevant and people's greatest need. I guess I have a problem with the overall philosophy of making music a certain style to attract and draw people. It needs to be fitting to God's Holiness,reverent,set apart,God honoring...those should be the criteria,not if the lost like it.

    I'm not opposed to any new music,but I do have a problem with this philosophy that was mentioned in the original post.

    Molly
     
  10. DanielFive

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    Scott,

    What churches specifically are you referring to here. Do you mean one or two churches you've been to yourself, or do you mean to generalise and say that this is normally the case in Churches which don't use CCM.

    If you are only talking about a few churches in your area one wonders if the problem has really got anything to do with the music at all.

    I will ask, and if you are genuinely interested read the 'CCM and Sensual Worship' thread.

    Adopteddaughter,

    Thanks for your reply,

    1. It is not really a question of me not liking specific kinds of music, musically my tastes are much the same as they always were. However I recognise that rock music, rap etc does absolutely nothing for me on a spiritual level, it appeals only on a sensual level. Lyrically, much of todays secular music is attrocious and an affront to any Christian. Therefore I genuinely try not to listen to non-christian music, although I admit that the temptation to turn on the radio sometimes gets the better of me.

    2 & 3. Certain types of Christian music eg. Christian Rock, Christian Rap etc. etc. appeals only in the same way as secular music of the same type. It has no spiritual quality whatsoever. I dislike the fact that todays christian music is only an imitation of what the non-christian world has to offer. Musically there is nothing distinctive about it, it has nothing positive to offer.

    Lyrically of course it is better than non-christian music but sometimes there is very little difference. Often it is more glorifying to the singer than it is to God. I accept that this is not always the case, that there are some exceptions to the norm among todays CCM artists.

    I have no objections to you or anyone else listening to good CCM in your own time, but I don't want to hear it in my Church. In reality I'm much more anti-CCM in the church, rather than anti-CCM altogether.

    The reason in a nutshell is that CCM music is designed to appeal to both Christian and non-Christian alike, it is far more sensual than it is spiritual. The oposite is true of traditional hymns, which appeal on a spiritual level first and foremost.

    Do you still think so, now that you've read them?

    The question remains, What is wrong with traditional Hymns? Why don't you like them? (I don't mean you personally AD)Can anyone answer these questions for me.

    God Bless

    Enda

    [ May 19, 2003, 04:28 PM: Message edited by: enda ]
     
  11. AdoptedDaughter

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    Just like you said, Edna...for some people hymnals do nothing for them spirtually, which is why some people don't like them...So...yes...the answers are slightly the same...at least the basis of them is.
     
  12. ScottEmerson

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    It has nothing to do with music. There are judgmental people on both sides of the coin. It's a heart issue, not a music issue.

    I've been to a wide variety of churches. I've studied church dynamics. I have talked to a myriad of non-Christians who have attended all kinds of churches. It's not a generalization - it's just the way that churches as a whole are.

    That is the trend that Christians need to buck.
     
  13. ScottEmerson

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    There is nothing that is wrong with hymns, per se. However, we are dealing with a culture - the Generation X, Y, and Internet - who quite simply cannot relate to hmyns that speak of God in what they consider a detached manner. Many of the hmyns are almost like telling each other how great God is. There is nothing wrong with that. However, this generation, more than those before, have an intrensic desire to connect.

    That is why so much of the praise and worship material that is coming out (the good stuff - not the trite stuff) has the singer speaking the words to God. This generation longs to connect in that way in worship.

    So there is nothing wrong with hymns - it just does not have the impact on the modern generation as other forms of worship. For those who are not part of that generation, such things may be hard to understand, but my life is spent with such people (I'm generation X myself - well, on the border between X and Y). Worship to them supercedes the traditional hymn.
     
  14. Molly

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    Some CCM I actually do like a lot and we may listen to it and even attend some concerts,for *fun*.....but,when it comes to a corporate church service...I do not think light hearted carefree,light choruses should be the message of the worship time. I think the music should be challenging in content,inspiring,God honoring,teaching us more about the God we serve,reverent,and full of biblical truths.

    I think all God honoring music,hymns,etc...are praise and worship....what is the difference???

    Just my thoughts!
    Molly
     
  15. Molly

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    I'm confused,Scott....what is it about hymns that some can not relate to? The words,the style? What is it?
     
  16. ScottEmerson

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    Psalm 150
    1 Praise the LORD . [1]

    Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
    2 Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
    3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
    4 praise him with tambourine and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and flute,
    5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

    6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD .

    Praise the LORD .

    Sounds like a light-hearted, carefree psalm to me!

    SEC
     
  17. Molly

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    And...have you ever thought that *new* music may not be the answer,maybe,just maybe it is a hard heart problem with this so called generation X or Y...why cater to what they think they want and really give them what they really need?

    Molly
     
  18. Molly

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    Psalms are great and I think we should sing them more often! But with a band,praise singers and drums....reverent and holy...I don't see it....
     
  19. DanielFive

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    Sorry Adopteddaughter, I don't think I could accept that answer. I just can't see how any Christian with a genuine heart for worship could say that hymns do nothing for them spiritually. I would wonder if the problem lies in them rather than in the hymn. (Thats my opinion, I'm not judging or attacking anyone)

    God Bless

    Enda
     
  20. ScottEmerson

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    A little bit of both, I think. It's the same reason why the KJV Bible presents to them a foreign message. There is a connotation that is there with much of the language that is used both in the KJV Bible and many of our traditional hymns. To them, it is a Shakespearean religion, and thus, not as relevant to what they are dealing with in their daily life.

    The style is also something that turns off this generation. It's the same reason why classical music doesn't sell very well for the ages of 12-30.

    None of this makes hymns wrong in any way. It is just that in dealing with these age groups, hymns are becoming increasingly out of touch with the emerging group of believers.
     

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