I actually wrote this post over a year ago and when I published it, I was left in shock at the number of people who sent me messages and wanted to know if I was talking about their church. My words were actually reflective of several churches I had visited and others had told me about but many people recognized their own churches and were offended by what they read. If they were offended, it was their own fault. As you can see in the first paragraph – they were warned!
Well, I’m on that tangent again today so here we go again, with just a few little tweaks.
The Totally Cool Relevant Church of Dynamic Worship and Contemporary Awesomeness – one more time with feeling!
If you are a member of the Totally Cool Relevant Church of Dynamic Worship and Contemporary Awesomeness, you might want to stop reading right now because this post is only going to make you mad and I sincerely do not care. My blog – my opinion. Seriously, I’m on a tangent today. You just might want to back away. Consider yourself warned.
You know the kind of church I’m referring to, the one with a hip, young emcee who bounds onto the stage and welcomes the audience. Seriously, the word “congregation” just does not seem to fit, people are here for the show. He usually explains how they are casual, “come as you are,” seeker-friendly, culturally relevant and missional in their outreach.
Come as I am, you don’t care what I wear? What if I wake up and want to put on a swimsuit? You’re okay with that? If you really didn’t care what I wore, you wouldn’t even mention it. You do care, the translation of your comment is “Don’t dress up. Wear casual jeans and t-shirt so you fit into our ideal of a hip, youth-oriented church.” You folks over forty who like to dress up on Sundays might want to sit in the back where there is less likelihood the church photographer might accidentally include you in one of our marketing shots. Quite honestly, if you are over forty, you aren’t our target for marketing purposes but we do want your tithes and offerings because you are at your optimum earning age.
Hey, Grandpa, just drop a tenth of that pension check into the offering plate and sit in the lobby if you don’t like the show!
Why is clothing even a point of discussion? Jesus told us not to even think about it.
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” Matthew 6:31
Oh, yeah, that scripture is from the definitely not-trendy, uncool King James Version of the Bible.
Then our emcee proceeds to introduce the opening act which is really the main show because no one really cares about the preaching to follow, it’s all about – THE MUSIC and THE BAND. The church even focuses on the music in their marketing. The “dynamic worship experience” brings the people in. Translation – brings the YOUNG people in. You older folks might want to bring the earplugs because this isn’t for you. Your hymns have no place in our church, but don’t forget to drop your offering in the bucket on your way out.
The auditorium (sanctuary is such an outdated word!) lights dim and then the dramatic stage lights begin to pulsate as the drummer hits the sticks (note my trendy slang) to whip the crowd into a frenzy before the spotlight illuminates the lead singer. It’s time to get the party started!!
Forget congregational singing, it’s all about the show. Although the words were projected on the big screen, I felt like Steve Martin in the porch scene in The Jerk. You know the scene, I don’t need to explain.
Yes sir, it’s all about the music and the band’s CDs are for sale in the church gift shop. By the way, the gift shop is where you can also buy a refillable cup emblazoned with the church logo to use in the church’s coffee shop. You will never be a part of the hip, in-crowd until you are seen carrying around one of the cups sipping your cappuccino and saying “I agape you” to people you pass in the hall. Yeah, I agape you too, bro.
Now, at this point you might have come to conclusion that I hate contemporary Christian churches and the contemporary Christian music they play. Well, you would be wrong. I like a lot of contemporary Christian music and artists, especially Chris Tomlin and Big Daddy Weave. I also like southern gospel (which is my favorite genre and I LOVE (all caps) the Gaither Homecomings), bluegrass gospel, country gospel and the old standard hymns. I respect it all. Except Gregorian chants…I have to draw the line there, to use a quote from the old American Bandstand, “It’s got a good beat but it’s kind of hard to dance to.”
What I do hate is the unnatural focus on music and the controversy caused by music in the church today. Satan loves it. He is having a great time in today’s churches causing contention and divisiveness with the music. Whatever he can do to take the focus off the message of the gospel of the kingdom that Jesus commanded to be preached, the gospel of the cross that brings souls to salvation and redemption through Christ’s shed blood, makes the old devil one happy camper.
If we keep the focus and the conversation on the music, nobody is talking about Jesus. It keeps the congregation all abuzz with gossip about who does and who doesn’t support the “dynamic worship music” that gets people in. My friends, if people are coming to your church because of the music or leaving your church because of the music, they aren’t there for the right reason to begin with. You have a MUCH bigger problem than the music you are playing.
On the day that Satan was created, our loving God created musical instruments for him. Music is Satan’s “thing.” That’s why he walks boldly into the church building carrying his instruments and causes all sorts of disruptions, quarrels and division with the music.
“Thou hast been in Eden in the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.” Ezekiel 28:13
Yeah, again a scripture from the old King James Bible. Now, you won’t find any mention of Satan’s musical instruments in your NIV, Message, ESV, Living, American Standard, etc. Hmm…isn’t it just like Lucifer to work his wiles in modern Bible translations to eliminate the fact that he has his hands in the music? Very interesting.
Bottom line, my friends, if you are talking about your church’s music, you aren’t talking about Jesus. If you are praising the music, you aren’t praising the Lord. If you are gossiping about the music minister and his or her song selections, criticizing the genre and selfishly pushing for only your preferred taste to be played (because who cares about anyone else as long as you are happy) you are working for the devil and not behaving in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord.
Let’s keep it in the proper perspective. The music should be a source of worship. If the elderly man in his nineties wearing the same suit and tie week after week gets a blessing out of occasionally taking the stage and singing “Amazing Grace” in his feeble, off-key voice, let him and if you don’t like it, suck it up. If the contemporary video for “Flawless” moves people in worship, but you don’t like it, shut your trap. If people rise to their feet and clap their hands and lift their voices when the pianist plays the opening of “I’ll Fly Away” but you don’t like it, stifle yourself, stand up and clap with them. Who knows, you might just get a blessing on that hateful, selfish hard heart of yours.
Stop behaving like a Pharisee and start behaving like a Christian! Just like Jesus told those snarky, snooty, better-than-you, sarcastic Pharisees, “You people make me sick! All pretty and Christian-like on the outside but inside you reek of death and rot!” Well, those aren’t exactly Jesus’ words. Here’s what He actually said:
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” Matthew 23:27
It’s not about you and it’s not about the music. It’s about Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
So if you are mad at me after reading this post, well, you will just have to get over it. In the words of the great Apostle Paul,
Have I now become your enemy because I tell you the truth? Galatians 4:16
I’ll just leave you with a short little scripture from Ephesians 4:27,
Neither give place to the devil.
Yeah, it’s from King James, but you probably could have guessed that.
May you be richly blessed, my friends and if I don’t meet you again here, I hope to meet you over there!