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20 November 2007

I Did It Myyyyyyyyyyyyy Way!

Isn't it just a little annoying when you hear someone sing a song that they know so well that they ham it up, so to speak, by not putting the syllables with the correct beat (or the way the songwriter originally intended)?

This irks me the most when done to Christmas music, probably because (as a general rule) I regard Christmas music as a herd of sacred cows. For example, instead of singing, "Mary, did you know... that your baby Boy... would some day walk on water?" -- as intended by the songwriter -- someone might render it, "Mary.... didjaknow... that... yourrrrrrr babyBoy... would someday... walk - on - water?!"

Personally, I find that kind of singing loathsome. It's just as bad if you've never, ever heard the song. You can just tell. It's like, "Listen, Barry Manilow, I don't know that song, and from the way you're singing it, I don't think think I want to know it." It's a triple- or quadruple-loathsome habit when done in church by a music leader (but that's not the exact subject of this post). I think this must be the origin of the phrase about "marching to the beat of a different drummer."

Do you ever think we, the Church, might do this with our message; the message of Christ's redemption and new life in Him? Yes, as new creatures we're naturally going to march to the beat of a different Drummer -- we'd better be doing that -- but do we present our "song" in a way that's confusing or just plain annoying to those around us? Do we sing it the way we want to, by golly, and if someone gets it, good for them, but if they don't they've got real problems?

In 1 Corinthians 4:7-9, Paul is speaking to the Corinthian church specifically about tongues, but if what he says applies to inter-fellowship communication, shouldn't it apply all the more to our interaction with those around us? "Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle? It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space." (that's the NLT) Paul confirms that these words touch on the Church's interaction with the outside world in verse 23, and it's in the context of an unbeliever coming into the church gathering. That is, even inside the Church we need to consider that others are observing, and we should communicate with that in mind.

Arguably, our Sunday morning services have the most potential to be evangelistic, whether we intend for them to be or not. People know that regardless of a church's service times, they will be having services on Sunday morning, and this is (again, arguably) the most likely time for them to "investigate."

Devil's advocate time...

"There Is A Fountain" is an old song that was written to be uplifting to believers; one to remind them of what Christ did on the cross, and that our sins have been forgiven. But it contains some hair-raising concepts (and to be honest, pretty gross-sounding ones, the way it's phrased) to those who have never heard the message of Jesus' sacrifice. Should this song be sung in an "evangelistic" service? Just curious...

There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel's veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.

Before you answer, note that this is the Scripture passage that prompted the author, William Cowper, to pen the song:

"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed" (Romans 3:23-25, NKJV)


Preston N said...

Dean (First sorry this is soo long)

With regards to your reference to 1 Cor 14:7-9, I too have often struggle with this concept. In so much I began to do some research about a year ago on how the early church fathers conducted church from about 70AD to about 350AD. To my amazement I discovered that the early church (I am speaking of a physical gathering) was not used primarily to evangelize to the lost. Instead it was a place where Christians gathered to learn and grow in the Lord and be equipped to go out into their neighborhoods and evangelize. It was not necessarily a place where people brought their lost friends or family to get saved. From what I can gather in v23 Paul is using this as an analogy to make his point about how the Corinthians were to conduct their services. If you read further in v26 you see he is asking the "brethern" (a word only applied to believers) to do things only believers are equipped to do.

The early fathers model for church service was one whereby people were equipped to go out and evangelize to the lost. How many people within our churches today can truly and effectively share the gospel with your neighbor or friends (much less fully know and understand it). Instead we seem to have a reverse model whereby it is only the pastor who it seems is the only person equipped to save the lost - how sad! For example, how many of us who may speak to someone about the Lord and are thinking: "If I could only get him/her to my church and let my pastor get a hold of them, then and only then they could get saved". Is this really an effective way to reach the lost? Personally, I think it would be better if we had a church full of people who have the ability to evangelize their friends, family and community independently - just imagine how much more effective the church could really be!

I realize for many this concept seems to challenge church tradition. But honestly does God really care about tradition? Did Jesus really give a hoot about tradition of the Pharisees? Please understand I am in no way saying to teardown churches, but maybe its time we re-evaluate how we are doing things.

As for the song - I agree this sounds really gross and I would probably not sing this in front of non-believers. If I came into a church service and knew nothing of Christianity I would tend to think after hearing this song your God was a vampire.

I think the question that bears asking is how does one explain this to someone who has no concept of atonement? Better yet explain why God needed blood shed for sins and couldn't just forgive us? Now there is a rabbit trail!

Tony M said...

I like this "model" of the church. In fact, I often say that we should spend our church energies on discipling those who are currently already in the church. Instead, it oft seems that modern churches are (as you've indicated) interested in trying to grow the churches by fancy, flashy programs, but leaving the discipleship of any new members for someone else to do.

If, instead, we focus our church energies on worship and discipleship, I think we'll experience the numerical church growth as a natural byproduct, since those who are growing closer to Christ and maturing spiritually will naturally draw their friends and acquaintances into the church. Those they come into contact with will see something different and will want to have what they (the ones being discipled, the ones they're observing) have.

How does this apply to your post? Maybe like this: if we are focusing on the discipleship and worship-ship (?!) of the believer during our various church services, and yes, perhaps putting the gospel into the "Sunday Morning Service" as well, then it's likely that most of those who aren't believers will be in the presence of, invited even, by a believer, one who is discipled and is maturing and can help to explain some of this "church speak" (your previous posts) to the unbeliever.

Note: I'm not trying to be divisive, just offering my opinion.

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