Rick ponders: “I’ve asked numerous times, but no one has answered:
Why is it that after so many generations, suddenly the demand is made ‘that the music they listen to in worship be in the same style as the music they listen to for entertainment?’”
Thanks for the excellent question Rick. Perhaps this seems like it is a recent “sudden” demand? It has been noted that the last two generations are the first to insist that the music used in their “radio-world-life” be gospelized-spiritualized-sanctified and used for corporate worship. It has been a trend for some time, though the demand has been there all along. (we are carnally bent) Wise church fathers historically refused or re-directed the supply chain until recently.
When big band music was hot, (1910-1940) no one insisted that Tommy Dorsey fly in with the Big Band Praise Team and assure that worship is “properly led”. What changed? MEDIA/MONEY. We want what we can see and what sparkles.
It wasn’t until Elvis in the 50’s and the sensual sixties that church-world and world-world began to get friendly with one another in this way. Since then, much of the Evangelical church evolved into one pep rally show (called worship) after another. It also joined in the celebration of high profile personalities and groupie worship, with “artists” signing autographs for those who would follow Christ vicariously through their best and brightest shining super star.
We endured the PTL700 Club. We had a new populace of “wannabees”.
We have sustained a powerful appetite for all things carnal and it shows.
CHURCH PASTORS IN A FIX TOO—not just the musicians and music.
What if the “Pastor Keep” (not search) committee comes and says,
“Pastor, we’d like you to be more “contemporary”? We want you to act your age and all that, but perhaps you could update your hair style and clothing to reflect the contemporary culture better. Also, we would like you to sit in a chair where the pulpit used to be. Just chill a bit more and teach (not always the bible) more than preach. Please don’t get to heady and dive off into deep theological treatises. Perhaps you could purchase yourself a gym membership and buff up so that your tight T- shirt reveals a well-disciplined man. Then, to assure that you are contemporary, traditional AND blended, you can add in hugging those traditional folks more and thus blend in better with the Millennial scene?”
The pastor must navigate sprawling egos (sometimes his own) as stage personalities demand and present ever-weakened doctrine. If he is to play (or not play) the entertainment boogie for Jesus, and this can be quite draining, if not deadening to the soul, he may well find himself homeless. We all do things for survival (perceived or real) that we might not otherwise.
I am not positive Rick, but I believe the boomers were the first to invent a solution to their forbidden cravings.
Set against Carlos Santana, the Byrds, the Beatles, Cream and the like, the church and its music became
“a very boring scene, man”.
Therefore, the boomers were the ones who figured out how to have their cake and eat it too. We are the ones who cleverly tricked our unsuspecting parents who had been far too influenced by Bill Gothard and the evil beat–rock and roll story. So then, we put Jesus words to the music we liked and wah-lah, there you have it–silent parents. Then, when we performed our new and improved Jesus rock music in church for proud parents and grandparents, all is well in contemporary music heaven. Subsequent generations have perfected this and a shrewd, capitalist marketing system sanctioned it for the money maker it became.
It became big business, big money, that is, until recently. While many declining churches/pastors are just now waking up to the “get a praise band or die” philosophy, the praise band may well be seeing its demise as more Millennials prefer substance and participation over style and pop-band performance. We have tired of—watch us worship- (perform for you on stage) -worship. aka: Praise-Me-Band.
The music industry at large continues to bleed great losses today as the digital world of copy-paste marches on and thumbs its nose at profit margins. (for the musician and composer as well) This means fewer CD and live show ticket sales too. In an article entitled, “Who Killed the Christian Music Industry?” Tyler Huckabee writes,
“The descent of CCM is a reflection of America’s waning interest in Christianity as a whole. The precipitous drop-off in CCM (contemporary Christian music) sales has left Christian labels and artists staring into the void alongside their pastors, scratching their heads, wondering where they went wrong.”
We went wrong by allowing the wrong people (entertainers) into the inner sanctum of worship in the beauty of holiness. Not just anyone gets to repair and or fly Air Force One for the president and not just anyone is asked to prepare his food. Why would we ever lower our standards for leadership of music, worship and preaching of God’s word? The simple answer:
“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.These are not from the Father but are from this world.” I John 2:16
What to do then?
Seven proven solutions that brings back substance over shallow sensationalism
1–Have/attend more concerts – not fewer.
But not in, for, or as a “worship service”. Teach the difference between the two. As long as the texts are acceptable, play the music you like and enjoy. Skate too it, dance, date, hug and swoon–live your youth as God has blessed. When you go to an art museum, do not put blinders on and ask that you be directed to art only that has a cross painted on it. Neither expect the curator to deface the art by painting crosses on each as to justify a wayward expectation on your part. Take music appreciation classes. Go to concerts of many styles of music and go often. If you are a performer, perform often, and get the applause of man into biblical perspective. A church platform of worship must never become a stage for earthly performance. (it is comfortably so today where pastoral leadership is lacking)
2–Affirm the truth that there is no such thing as “Christian Music” and “Secular Music”.
A Bb chord is not holy where a C7 major chord is secular–minor chords all evil.
There are no Christian doctors, musicians, lawyers, etc. — only docs, musicians and lawyers, etc. who are Christian.
There is no Christian medicine or food.
Respect the truth that all music has both intrinsic and associational values.
“A time and place for everything under the sun.” Use accordingly.
Christianity is a message and a means by which God has loved and brought redemption to mankind. Music is but one means of expression within the lives of all people-Christian or not.
3–Broaden musical and textual criticisms.
Whether you are in the pew, pulpit, choir loft, or praise band corner…be a student. We cannot lead people where we have no reference and intimate experience. Our knowledge must instruct our emotional preferences. Our minds—filled with God’s Spirit, must regulate our petty desires and selfish ambitions. Biblical theology and doctrine must precede music theory and practice.
Talent bows to spiritual giftings and personality yields to calling. The humble character of Christ is our golden standard. (Philippians 2)
4–Carefully choose and enjoy the cultural music of your youth. (POP)
You will be listening to it as a preference, almost exclusively in 30, 40, + years. Then, resist the temptation to convert it to music for worship and insist that everyone “like it”. They won’t.
5–In your church, expect and allow the gospel, your music, and worship to be “other-worldly”.
You will know when you have cheapened it and brought it down to ankle-deep. Pray for and welcome leadership that understands this and knows how to lead us all, each generation.
6–From your personal walk in Christ, write new texts and tunes
for both your own personal worship and perhaps too for the corporate gatherings of believers. We must do both. We want our church to be thus indigenous. Re-affirm #3.
7–As a Christian, being correct is better than being contemporary.
The “Gospilization” of life (painting crosses on secular necessities as a means of unnecessary justification of use) pits us against them and creates the bland one size fits all attitude we promote so often today. It tells the church within the world to cease resistance, “come along peacefully”. It tells the world about the church that “we really have nothing to offer you that you cannot get just by shopping anywhere in this world.”
Repair this error by insisting the qualifications for leadership within your congregation are more theologically rigorous than musical. Make leadership more about giftedness and discipleship maturity (spiritual gift) than musical talent and skill.
Correct theology (orthodoxy) combined with correct living (orthopraxy) equals correct understanding and application of biblical liturgy.
–It means that the church keeps a powerful witness (salt and light) in the world.
–It means that the church will not become like the world in the name of “being relevant, popular and acceptable”.
–It means that the church is willing to shrink in numbers, but never from integrity and being distinct and separate from this world system.
Amen!! What more can I say but Amen!! What an inspiring article. Thank you!
Sharon–glad it worked for you. Thanks for commenting. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if something like this never had to be written?