Periodically there are aticles that pop up on social media critisizing modern worship songs or styles of ministry. One such article suggested that this is the reason no one sings in the morning worship services any longer. The congregations is unfamiliar with the shallow new worship songs. The not so subtle hint of this article is that many churches have become shallow graves for a pop worship culture.
Evertime these articles are reposted my news feed blows up with a chorus of "Amens" from the upset saints. I have been around a while so I have seen this kind or religious outrage before. At the root of most of it you will find a heart problem. Not physically but spiritually.
Based on now over 35 years in full time ministry and a lifetime in church I have a few suspicions about the outrage. Before I begin let me show you something interesting...
This hymn written in 1910 by Ed McConnell and here sung by a guy I went to Bible School with years ago a really great man and gifted Muscian "Gary Chapman".
This beautiful inspirational hymns tune shows up interstingly in modern culture in a TV show many of may remember...
Listen to this great song from a favorite musical...
Listen to the similarity with this faithful hymn I grew up singing in my Grandpas church...
I think it is good for us to first note there is nothing new under the sun. I am not sure which came first the chicken or the egg. But the point is this: culture has an affect on church styles, music and even locations. The church also has, through out history made a huge impact on culture. This video about the woodlawn "Jesus Movement" gives a bit of the history of a great spiritual movement that swept the united states in the early 70's.
Our culture changes but the message of the Bible does not. That said our style in reaching our culture needs to change. We need to GO where the people are and share our faith. We need to share it in a way they can understand. If I were to go to India to a remote villiage that only spoke the local language and I tried to tell them about Jesus in English they would not understand me. It is important that every generation hear the good news of the gospel in a way they can understand.
I suspect that much of the outrage among current church goers is the result of one of two things: Bad religion or Justification of mission disobedience.
Let me explain. First...BAD RELIGION
Many have been taught by spiritual leaders that attempts to reach out to culture through skits, modern worship music, non-church locations (ie a bar, a cafe, a business office building etc.. are Biblically wrong and even harmful to the advancement of the gospel. These teachers see attempts to change styles of ministry as watering down the gospel or trying to gather crowds by not challenging them to surrender to Christ.
There is not room in this post to mount a complete defense of changing ministry styles to reach culture, I will do that in another post. Suffice to say for the purposes of this post that such attacks by Christians separates us from one another so that we cannot unify to do the Mission Christ gave to us.
Additionally, such beliefs set us up for pride that separates us from non-believes in an unhealthy way. We easily forget what condition we were in when we found Christ and opened to His forgiveness. We can also forget how much we need JESUS everyday just to help us, heal us, fill us with Hope.
JUSTIFICATION OF MISSION DISOBEDIENCE
It is so much easier to say they are doing it wrong than to admit I am not doing it at all. Doing what? The Mission God gave to us.
John 17:18 MSG
In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world
Acts 20:24 NCV
The most important thing is that I complete my mission the work that the Lord Jesus gave me.
WHAT IS THIS MISSION?
“Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone." (Mark 16:15)
Participating in the mission is scary. it is much easier to judge the big church down the street than to admit I am part of the reason my church is not effectively reaching our community.
There is a difference between becoming seeker sensitive and becoming culturally popular. Becoming seeker sensitive is recognizing how culture has changed and making an attempt to reach out to them in a meaningful and thoughtful way with the good news of the Cross of Jesus. To try to be culturally popular would require one to altar scripture to adapt it to what culture wants to hear.
I am not an advacote for the popular gospel but I am an advacote for a seeker sensitive style in church ministry. Jesus did not say open the doors of the church so they can come in, He told us to "GO into all the world"...
I suspect that if we all get more involved in the mission we will find we disagree on very little.