Casual Christianity | Part One

August 19, 2016

by Dr. William F. Harrell

*This post was taken from Dr. Harrell’s website and is used by permission

In the early nineties, a movement was born in the Evangelical world which has grown beyond the expectations of even those who started it. A pastor in Chicago, Bill Hybels, is credited with being the genesis of the contemporary movement and even he has seen the destructive side of it and has stated so. When I concluded my first eight-year term on the Executive Committee of the SBC, I delivered a short devotional to the subcommittee on which I was serving. In that devotional, I stated that there were two things which were going to have to be confronted and solved in the coming years and that they both begin with a “C”.

The two things to which I was referring are Contemporary worship and Calvinism. Concerning the Contemporary worship style, I said that it would finally result in our losing our denominational identity as people, by their nature, would always be looking for something new and fresh and that they would ultimately seek things which have, traditionally, been outside of who we are as Southern Baptists. I stated that we would, ourselves, finally become confused as to who we are and if we become confused about it, the society around us will see nothing distinctive about us at all. The result will be that we will blend into the surrounding spiritual landscape to the point that we will no longer be recognized as the Southern Baptist Convention we have known. This is in the process of happening to us and it is happening at warp speed.

The second thing I mentioned beginning with a “C” was Calvinism. At that time in the SBC, hardly anyone could see that, ultimately this would be a problem. We have always had Calvinists in our midst and we have coexisted with no problems. Even a cursory reading of history will show one that, while seventeenth and eighteenth preachers in our developing country disagreed on this issue, they respected each other and worked together. After the formation of the SBC in 1845 we might have disagreed with each other but we never sought to bring the SBC to a unified position on the issue. Everyone could believe as he wished as long as salvation through the blood of Jesus was the unifying factor. The thing I was already feeling in 1994 was that the Calvinists had an agenda to identify the SBC as a “reformed” convention. While no one will deny that many of our prominent founders were Calvinists, there were others who were not. Whatever the case, the SBC began to turn away from that position near the middle of the nineteenth century. This has resulted in Calvinism being in the vast minority among our people and churches.

While Calvinism is in the minority in the SBC, it enjoys influence far beyond its numbers. As certain leaders have committed themselves to the “reformed” position for the SBC, they have affected this effort by intentionally raising up an “army” of Calvinists through the educational system that the people of the SBC have paid for with their Cooperative Program dollars. This army is dedicated to the task of seeing that Calvinism is the major theological position of the Southern Baptist Convention. These leaders have known that the young people who have been indoctrinated with the five point Calvinistic model will be just as dedicated to seeing it succeed as those of us were who fought the Battle for the Bible and dedicated ourselves to the task of dealing with the issue of inerrancy.

While I have said this on other occasions, I feel it is necessary to reiterate it here: I have no problem with one holding the “reformed” or Calvinistic theological stance. They are free to believe as they wish and, even though I feel they are wrong, I have never let this disagreement hinder my fellowship with that person. Let it also be stated that I do not seek to “convert” a person to my viewpoint. Many lively discussions have been held but that was the end of it when the discussion was finished. The fact that I have had noted Calvinists lead revivals in my church are proof of the fact that I harbor no ill feelings toward someone who follows that theological model. However, I do not feel friendly toward the effort to “reform” the SBC especially through a planned, orchestrated process which has that end as its goal.

Anyone who has followed the situation closely knows that one of our theological seminaries in particular is leading the way with this agenda. A second seminary has joined the effort in recent years after they employed a new president who is in the process of taking that school into the same camp. That Calvinism was taught at our seminaries in the past was not a big deal to most Southern Baptists, but to intentionally transform those schools for the intended purpose of installing Calvinism in the SBC to the point that the SBC could be touted as a “reformed” convention is too much for me to tolerate. I also feel that I hold the predominant position in the SBC on the issue.

Competition for members between churches in a given geographical area has resulted in those churches taking the contemporary movement to the extreme in order to attract the largest crowd. When one church goes to a certain level of the contemporary, casual model, others feel they must do the same things or either invent some new twist which will attract more people than their “competition.” One noted pastor said that he wanted his music to get more “edgy” because he was tired of losing members to another certain church in town. This approach is dangerous because of the nature of human beings. When people are being entertained they always want something more “fantastic” than they had the first time. Human nature is never satisfied with its experience and is always seeking something new in order to keep itself entertained. Just ask Disney about this. Why are they always adding new attractions? Once people have been there, done that and have the tee shirt, they want something new in order for the entertainment factor to always be there. Churches are experiencing the same thing.

First, there was the addition of screens with graphics for an audience which was raised on television and video games. Then there was the abandonment of hymn books and those old, musty hymns for the new, bright, entertaining choruses. Of course they were tailor made for the video screen and could be flashed up there and besides one did not have to hold the hymn book….that heavy old thing. Along with that came the idea that everyone, no matter their physical condition, should stand for thirty minutes or so while they look at the video screen, read the words and sing the choruses. This has its roots in the rock concert scene where young people stand for hours and listen to a rock band. So let’s copy it in our church. Surely, it will work here too. Then, lo and behold, in order to further emulate what the world does, let’s bring more entertainment and excitement by adding strobe lights and smoke framed up in a black background. Don’t forget to make it so loud that one can hardly stand the decibel levels. That is what one gets with the secular rock bands. I believe this: the medium becomes the message if one cannot understand the words. And, in most cases, a person would be hard pressed to understand the words as performed by most praise bands. While we are doing all of this, we must do away with that old choir. Too many older people in it and the young people won’t come to our church if they see that. We can replace it with about six people and a music man with microphones in order to lead our people in the choruses they are going to read off the screen. This writer is not trying to be sarcastic but when the truth sounds sarcastic, so be it.

Part Two Coming Soon!

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David G Marrandette

Spot on!. Although you are being kind and generous with the headline of “Casual” Christianity. When we mix C&C, we get a brew called heresy.

Jon Estes

You make it sound as if contemporary worship is sinful.

What if the younger crowd does not come if we do church a certain way (instead of be the church). What happens when we become all things to all men so we may win some (not to include sinning)?

I’m not a fanof high contemporay worship nor of old traditional worship. Maybe we can learn to know our community and do what is necessary to reach them. Not to our preferred style but to a Christ who would probably be sick in some of our traditional churches today.

I was back in the states recently and visited a church. It had good numbers in attendance (300+)… a lot of grey heads (including mine)… less than 7 percent of the crowd were preteens (from what I could count… which I did my best)… Only one man shook my hand before church… only two did after… In meeting the pastor at the door and getting a quick, glad to have you with us today and then moving his hand to the next person, I stopped and introduced myself… This seemed to break his flow of good-bye greetings… Even sharing I served overseas in the middle east didn’t seem to garner a word. I exited and told my son at lunch that another church would probably better fit their family (they had moved to that area 3 weeks prior)

Nothing wrong with the message and presented theology (no reformed stuff in the message) but dry as the dunes here in the UAE.

Their worship leader, playing a guitar had as much expression as the Darlings…

http://mayberry.wikia.com/wiki/The_Darling_Fortune?file=Howdy.jpg

…and less talent.

I’ll take my people who are more reformed than they realize but love Jesus and share Jesus in spite of their soteriology which differs from yours.

The above story is true and does not reflect what is typical (or at least I hope not) churches of the Traditionalist camp.

Andy

I struggle with how to respond to articles like this, because I can symphathize with someone seeing so much of what they have come to know and love change so much, and because there is some measure of truth to the observation of problems with much of contemporary worship.

But I also think much of the critique here is misplaced. I hope this can be received as coming from one with a desire to see life, truth, and grace characterize our worship gatherings. To put these thoughts in perspective, I grew up in a church that would have agreed very much with Dr. Harrell, and in fact in my teen years I scoffed at those who went off to college and came back thinking “Christian Rock” was acceptable music. But I soon grew to understand that such a prohibition was a biblically unsustainable position. I now have been leading Congergational singing for 13 years, 9 years at my present church, and use a variety of very old and very new songs, accompanied with a Guitar, bass, Piano, electic keyboard, and drum set.

1. Dr. Harrell laments about screens, abandonment of hymnbooks, and addition of new Songs. These are simply technologies and methods used to facilitate congregational singing. Hymnals were once new, Organs were once new. There is simply no biblical reason why reading out of a book is better that reading off of a screen. Each has its practical advantages, neither has a spiritual upper hand. As for new songs, we are told to sing new songs in the bible. Most people I know would agree that we need both old and new. ***In fact, I think you have not even addressed the bigger problem with much of the new music…it is HARD TO SING! So, while our church will sing “A mighty fortress”, and “This is Amazing Grace” (top CCLI song right now), there are many other songs we do NOT sing because of weak texts, or difficult melodies. But each song must be taken individually and evaluated on its own merits.

2. Standing: Yes, worship leaders should be considerate of the age and physical condition of the congregation. An older church may need to have shorter song sets with more breaks, a younger church may be able to string more songs together in a row.

3. Volume/Inteligability: (a) I have heard a pipe organ be deafening, such as to drown out most of the singing. It’s not a style thing…its just a volume thing.
(b) Dr. Harrel says “in most cases, a person would be hard pressed to understand the words as performed by most praise bands.” Having been in lots of worship services in lots of churches, even ones that even I would consider extremely modern and overly entertainment oriented, I can say that I can almost ALWAYS, ALWAYS understand the words. This may not be true at an actual rock concert (christian or otherwise), but in churches, it generally is true.

4. Choirs: As an anecdote, in my church, the choir has filtered itself, in that choir participation gradually dwindled over the years, first over the summer months, then during the main year as well. We now gather a choir once or twice a year for Christmas, maybe Easter. The vast majority of choir singers are fine with that, and have voted with their feet that a year-round choir is not what they want. Things change. it’s ok. I can take it as a personal indictment on my choir directing ability, or perhaps, I could attributed it to some supposed waning godliness on their part, or I can simply accept that churches go through seasons.

FINALLY: “This writer is not trying to be sarcastic but when the truth sounds sarcastic, so be it.” The problem is not sarcasm, as I see it. It is that there is nothing inherently more spiritual about choirs, hymnals, or only singing one song at at time before sitting down again. There is a danger of seeking to please men, to entertain rather than edify, to impress rather than educate….but these things are not due having a guitar and screens…they have been around before that came along. There are also specific things that modern worship leaders, in general, need to be more consious of, things like singability of tunes, volume levels, etc…but again, going back to hymals and organs only will not solve anyone’s spiritual problems. I have been in very traditional churches where most people didn’t sing, or just mumbled under their breath…I have been in very contemporary services where most people didn’t sing. It’s not a musical style issue.

Thanks for reading my super-long comment!
-Andy

Dennis Lee Dabney

Truly Amazing,

After the “Production” and entertainment is over, now let’s get serious about “Jesus”.

Jesus who?

For we know Him no longer after the flesh. What make us think we can approach Him in a fleshy, worldly manner?

There was a time, only a few years ago, when you could be pretty sure, based on one’s dress, as to where they were headed on Sunday morning. Not any more. Some leave houses without Mirrors to go to a Houses without Consciouses.

The music brings in a certain kind of dress. In some of our circles, a man must keep his eyes on the ceiling or closed (sleep), which has always been option for some men anyhow, in order not to see what Some call casual but in reality is a shame in God’s House.

Many could leave worship and go straight to the race track or dog fight, without having to go home and change attire first.

But some say, “look how far we have come from the days of the brush Arbor”meetings of our forefathers”.

The problem isn’t how far we have allegedly come but where we find ourselves now.

Dr Harrell seems to know where this movement is headed and I agree.

Preach!

    Andy

    Now I’m really curious…what, specifically is it that you are talking about. How exactly do people approach God in a fleshly, worldy manner? Are blue-jeans sinful? Is it sinful if I lead music in church with a guitar? What if I take that same guitar to a 3rd world country and lead a church service on the hill-side? If I am playing guitar in my office singing to God, is that ok? what if I tap my foot. What if I tap my foot on a bass drum pedal? Does tucking my shirt in make me more spiritual?

    These are facetious questions, but the point is that unless someone is going to make a biblical argument as to why screens are sinful and hymnals are holy, or why my 6 year old son can’t wear shorts to church when it’s 95 degrees, then we are simply wasting our time…unless we get specific.

    Alternativly, perhaps someone can make a compelling case that ALL those who use songs written in the last 50 years, or guitars, or screens, are doing so with the sole desire to put on a show and entertain people. These two things have been equated without substantiation.

    We could take a lesson from Steve Camp’s “A call for REFORMATION in the contemporary Christian MUSIC INDUSTRY.” http://www.wphafm.org/107Theses.htm
    back in 1997, he saw disturbing trends in the CCM movement, but was wise enough to realize that it was not a musical style problem, it was a heart and motivation problem. Even 20 years later, it is as wise a critique of Contemporary worship as you will find, affirming of creativity, yet warning against weak doctrine, self-promotion, and seeking entertainment above edification.

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      Andy,

      I have a great deal to say about New Church.I’ve written extensively on the subject for years as I watch the effects render the segment of the African American churches powerless but not without a lot of emotional noise. Now I am not one advocating a dead cold fellowship but one excited about the Lord Jesus Christ with great reverence for His presence and ministry of the Word.

      I will say this for now. Satan began making inroads into the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ through “organizational” means once the apostles passed of the scene similar to Moses when Aaron gave the people what the people want.

      The people hands are not totally clean in this matter, for many of them voted for the current pastors or leaders they must now endure.

      Having family time now, Preach be back Lord willing.

      Preach!

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      Even if you do not hold the interpretation that the Laodicean church represent the end of the Church age, the present day symptoms sure do resemble those recorded in Revelation 3.

      If this present Church age doesn’t make the Lord sick at His stomach, I don’t what will. If some of the nonsense going when the church comes together doesnt make Him want to heave, nothing will.

      “Lukewarmness” describes much of Christianity. Not your fellowship of course but most.

      Ever learning but never coming to knowledge. We talk a good game but the cults could make time with many who attend our gatherings and they do. The Watchtower crowd is made up of more Baptist than you can “shake a stick at”.

      Sound doctrine doesn’t matter but our theology certainly does.

      The Church with excuses and reasons about how casual we have become. We have become what we have become becauses of what we have become. We got like that, we have going on, We have flavor and we have the cheese also.

      He told that crowd, thou art wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.

      He has described the present day symptoms of His Church.

      Preach!

sarah

Thank you for this post! It details exactly why we left the SBC. That would be the two C’s. And–it was the YOUNGER family members who simply refused to do contemporary worship any longer.

For our town at least, those just older than millennials, millennials, and all younger than them are sooo…done….with contemporary.

They are over with the hymn singing, pipe organ and piano crowd. Only the thin gray ponytail crowd of boomers are still pushing rock concert “worship” aka entertainment church.

Ron

I wonder if Dr. Harrell realizes he has indicted most Southern Baptist pastors in this article. After all, it’s the pastor who usually leads the charge to contemporize, often willing to risk splitting the church to accomplish it (I attend a church that is the result of just such a split). I seem to recall Old Testament Israel having a similar problem where the priests were leading the nation away from God instead of to Him. Dr. Harrell also implicitly acknowledges the other obvious fact in SBC life: unregenerate church membership. When he refers to people who, by their nature, are always looking for something new and fresh and who ultimately seek things which have, traditionally, been outside of who we are as Southern Baptists, he is describing unregenerate church members. The two go hand in hand, contemporary worship (which really isn’t worship because it’s geared more toward pleasing the worshipper rather than God) and unregenerate church members (who if they were truly regenerate wouldn’t pick a style based on whether it’s pleasing to themselves).

    Andy

    You hav a very high view of regenerate people. I think scripture and experience show that even true believers can fall into sin, and be tempted to please themselves at times, such as visiting two churches and picking the one with better music (which, BTW, may or may NOT even be sinful, depending on motivatikns.

Josh

I think it is fair to point out that the theology of synergism goes hand in hand with the attractional style church. Not saying all synergists approve of attractional style church. But it is a logical outflow of it. Synergists that reject the attractional church model are doing good. I would encourage them to engage it like Andy and less with preference and old timey sbc traditions with no theological basis.

    Andy

    Here’s a few interesting observations form my Midwest observatory over the last 20 yrs:

    -in the late 90s/early 2000s, I saw young people who were fed up with seeker sensitive churches (mostly free-will churches), leave and find something more robust in Calvinism, which at that time tended more traditional in worship style.
    -At the same time, other young people who grew up in traditional churches were discovering contemporary worship and went toward it, realizing that the arguments against guitars and drums were extremely weak.
    -more recently, it is the Calvinist church plants that have embraced modern worship, drawing people from more traditional churches.
    -churches of all types are becoming more contemporary in style at different degrees. (END OBSERVATIONS…BEGIN OPINION):
    -This can be good or bad, depending on motivations and implementation.

      Josh

      Andy,
      I agree with your assessment but think it goes a little farther than just worship. I think being more theological in general has attracted a lot of people to calvinistic churches. They are the ones typically billing themselves as Christ centered and missional. And to sit through a moralistic sermon vs a Christ centered sermon is night and day.

        JIm Poulos

        1Cor. 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

        And to be determined in something like that is going to demand hard work, and yes, theological work.

    Lydia

    Josh, And mongersistic Church membership contracts. er… covenants… are legal documents that protect the magisterium…er….. Elders. Uh hum.

    In Hotel California 9 Marx churches people can’t leave without asking permission. I am amazed grown ups sign them. Does not give me a lot of Hope for our country or independent thinkers guided by the Holy Spirit.

      Josh

      Great interaction. Thanks. And good godly grown ups do sign them and are excited to do so.

        Lydia

        Josh, The signers may see themselves as grown ups when they sign. Karen Hinckley at Villiage church found out the magisterium at Villiage did not view her as a grown up. Funny how that works.

        I always thought Baptists viewed their yes as a yes and their no as a no and did not need to sign legal documents to participate in what should be a Body of Christ. But now Baptists are becoming known for their magisterium and Creeds. It is bizarre.

        I assume to you seek the magisterium side?

          Josh

          Nope. Not a magisterium guy. But yes, I do like covenants and elder led churches. Seems to me to be more biblical. After all, that is what is what I hope we are all trying to do.
          And your usage of 1 example of a mistake by a church with thousands of members that believe as hundreds of thousands of other people does nothing for me. I can find sins on all sides. If I were to use your fair and balanced method I could say that I assume you prefer mob rule where countless if churches have split because the carpet color has changed or because the organ has been phased out.

            Lydia

            Josh, a “mistake” ? I think not. More like a “way of thinking” they never intended to go public. If she had “obeyed” the “contract” ,ergo the elders, she would never have gone public with their evil thinking. That was the purpose of the contract: controlling people.

            Thank goodness there are lawyers out there helping people to legally resign from church!

            One thing these “Godly” Elders never tell people who are signing the contract is that they were legally vetted in the first place. This means the elders went to the law first, albeit covertly. Deception at its worst.

            You sound very naive or perhaps have found a place of importance?

              Josh

              I honestly don’t know enough of that situation to write about. My point still stands and you have done nothing to interact with that. My desire is to be biblical in my beliefs on ecclesiology. You frankly come off as very bitter and hateful. You come at all of these discussions without Christian charity. Christians are flawed and they sin. That isnt news to anyone. If I can be shown that elder led is biblically wrong than ill change my views. My desire is not to be an authoritian leader but a servant leader. However that is supposed to be done biblically than that is how I will do it.

              Josh

              Also, did you actually disagree with my original post or did the word synergism trigger you into some sort of bash against calvinism? Not every topic needs to devolve to magisterium, determinism, calvin was a killer, etc. You don’t need to be a monergist to see and dislike the connection between seeker sensitive churches and synergism. If you have nothing to add to the conversation than you dont have to respond. Moving the goal posts to one of the 3 or 4 topics that you like to discuss is unnessary, unhelpful, and bad form.

                Lydia

                Josh, you are assuming synergy always results in shallow. There is nothing more shallow than presenting a god that is putting on one big Marionette show with you as one of the string characters.

                One of your 7-point gurus was promoting Rick Warren, the king of shallow.

                  Josh

                  “you are assuming synergy always results in shallow. ” apparently you did not read my post. I do not believe this in fact I said the opposite.

                  “There is nothing more shallow than presenting a god that is putting on one big Marionette show with you as one of the string characters.” That makes me smile. You may be the first person in history to claim that reformed soteriology is shallow. Also, there you go with one of your favorite themes. Determinism. Except I think you know most Calvinists reject determinism. I could call you semi pelagian but I don’t like to mischaracterize other people. My arguments are strong enough to not have to create straw men.

                  One calvinist supportef him? Oh. My. Goodness. That’s your argument? I can think of two who have. Im assuming you mean piper. That interview was horrible. He shouldn’t try to be so nice. The fact still remains that rick warren is a syngergist. So your argument is pointless.
                  So basically you have failed to interact with my arguments again. Do you have any other points to make in these message boards besides magisterium, calvin was a killer, and determinism/ islam?

            Jon Estes

            Josh –

            The idea of being a covenant people with other people is becoming a historical narritive and not a current commitment.

            The number of divorces among believers is a sign of such. If Christians can’t keep their marriage together or if Christians support divorce, why should church membership be important?

            Good comments.

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              Jon,

              Brother, you said something back there worthy of Amen, Amen and Amen.

              That will Preach.

              Preach!

      Josh

      In addition to all of the comments I would like to publicly apologize to Lydia. My interactions with you have not been honoring to Christ and I apologize and ask for forgiveness. I promise to try to keep my interactions with all of you on this board loving and Christ honoring.
      Sincerely,
      Josh

rhutchin

Music is never the problem. It can only be a symptom of the problem. However, as Andy notes, no problem may exist no matter the style of music.

The problem always has and always will be the preaching. In an effort to attract people to church, pastors can water down the message to the point where they are saying very little. Some pastors think they need to preach one hour sermons; others think twenty minutes is the attention span of people today. It doesn’t matter how long the sermon is – what matters is substance.

That is why Calvinism has become attractive, especially to younger people. The things said are harsh but many people seem to understand that the harshness is deserved. Modern society has become more and more corrupt and people are tired of hearing that it’s okay. People know that something is wrong and they want pastors to tell them the truth Calvinism is doing a better job of that. The music is secondary. People will sit through mediocre, even obnoxious, music in order to hear good, solid preaching. Look at a church in decline, and look first at the preaching to discover why.

    Christian

    What are the harsh things being said at Calvinist churches?

      rhutchin

      – That God is omniscient and knew those who would be saved (His elect) and those who would be lost (the reprobate) when He created the world.
      – That no more could be saved other than God’s elect.
      – That God chooses whom to save and whom to pass over without considering their sin or anything they do.
      – That Adam’s sin condemned all of mankind to death (Calvin called this a horrible decree).
      – That it is God who saves people and not people themselves.
      – That God sent Christ to save His elect and none else.
      – That people cannot believe in Christ if they are not His sheep.
      – That God made some people for noble purposes (His elect) and some for common purposes (the reprobate).
      and I suppose there is more that non-Calvinists rail against.

        Christian

        My heart breaks for you.

          rhutchin

          Why? If God is in control of my salvation, will He not do what is right? Can’t I trust God with my life?

        Josh

        Good list. Well done.

    Jon Estes

    “The problem always has and always will be the preaching.”

    I agree with you to a point. You can have soilid preaching/teaching and have people rebel. Jesus’ teaching and preaching ministry supports such.

    I see it as a heart problem, In the pulpit and in the pew.

      rhutchin

      Hard to disagree with that. However, if there is a heart problem, the only way to fix it is through the Scriptures. It is the through the preaching of the Scriptures that faith is conveyed to a person. It I through the Scriptures that the mind is renewed. We all have a heart problem, and that is the reason that God draws us to a church to hear the gospel preached – to water down that gospel is a great disservice to those whom God has put there to hear it. Nonetheless, as Paul said, “we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” The preaching of the gospel will not have the same effect on every person. “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” Sometimes, it seems, preachers want to help God save people and perhaps take some of the credit.

sarah

Actually, music IS often the problem. Not everyone, young or old, is into a service where the music seeks to engender a specific emotional response or experience. Many want the tunes to be simple and singable, with music available to more than the praise team. Many actually pay attention to the lyrics and want specifically Baptist theology.

In short, many would say if they wanted a generic service based on the old Assembly of God services, they would be at a non denom or AoG church. But seeing as how they want a distinctively Baptist service, they do not want generic charismatic music.

Or Calvinist theology.

    Andy

    “Many want the tunes to be simple and singable, with music available to more than the praise team. Many actually pay attention to the lyrics and want specifically Baptist theology.”

    I agree, my church wants all these things…as do I when I select songs…we just try to pick singable hymns, old and new, and sing them with a guitar, piano, bass, and drums. :-)

    Jon Estes

    “Not everyone, young or old, is into a service where the music seeks to engender a specific emotional response or experience.”

    Agreed but I think the number of who wants an emotional response and or experience is found on both sides of the music argument.

    Many hymn only people want their music because it brings an emotional response and is the experience they are raised on.

    Even with great theology in many hymns, if we do not live what we sing concern ing biblical truths, it matters not what we sing.

    “a distinctively Baptist service”

    Being that Baptists are autonomous, each individual church gets to choose what they want to musically define them. I am one who believes autonomy is above, we mustkeep it as we have always done it.

    The world is dying and going to hell just outside the doors of the church and we want toargue about what we sing and who gets to go. Maybe the church ought to stop fighting and just be obedient to the GC and GO and MAKE disciples.

Andy

I miss the 90s…

…when Baptists would just argue about music pure and simple, without bringing Calvinism into it… :-)

Josh

They were simpler times. “What? When I voted for drums in worship I thought I was voting on getting a new tympani drum!”

sarah

We do old songs and new and use more than just the piano. We’ve been known to have a praise team.

But we don’t tiptoe through the TULIP. We tie the lyrics to the sermon. We don’t try to plan the responses of the congregation and don’t try to manipulate them with music, lighting, fog machines, etc. We don’t imitate the Pentecostals. We sing congregationally, not watch a show.

Our sermons and services are not long but they are well planned, well executed, and are reaching people we never thought would come to Christ.

After 20 years of contemporary services and dwindling numbers this church made the decision the “change” pushed by the church growth gurus might be more about selling books and music than reaching the lost.

Funny–a return to all the things we are no longer supposed to do has meant souls saved.

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