Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Preferences

One balmy day in the South Pacific, a navy ship spied smoke coming from one of three huts on an uncharted island. Upon arriving at the shore, they were met by a shipwreck survivor. He said, "I'm so glad you're here! I've been alone on this island for more than five years!"
The captain replied, "If you're all alone on the island why do I see three huts."
The survivor said, "Oh. Well, I live in one, and go to church in another."
"What about the third hut?" asked the captain.
"That's where I USED TO go to church."

Aren’t we that petty about church sometimes? We somehow, along the way, got the idea that church is supposed to be just what we want, and we assume everyone else thinks and worships like us. If we experience God in a quiet reserved way, we do not understand why others could possibly find Jesus amongst electric guitars and a full set of drums.

I believe I am one of the fortunate people who has had a well rounded experience in worship settings. I have been able to find God in the tradition, awe and reverence of a Roman Catholic cathedral during Easter Mass. I have experienced the Holy Spirit in a small, wood-framed Pentecostal Holiness church in the mountains of North Carolina, where all fifteen people there were worshiping God with all their hearts. I have felt the power of the Almighty at a church in Anderson, SC where the music is very rock, and the preaching by the pastor is very “in-your-face”, “matter of fact”, and filled with a passion for the unsaved and unchurched.

My point is, no matter where you are, or what the worship experience is like, we all have personal preferences. Does every style of worship speak to every type of person? No. However, the message needs to be the same.

Let me put it this way. There is an ad that I see regularly on the inside cover of Biblical Archaeology Review magazine. It shows a photo of a young man on a farm with a box of computer software under his arm. The software is RosettaStone, a language learning program. The ad copy reads “He was a hardworking farm boy. She was an Italian supermodel. He knew he would have just one chance to impress her.” They, of course, go on to suggest that with their language program he could learn her language and have a chance at love.

To the outside world, we are like the farm boy. We speak a different language sometimes. The words “saved”, “lost”, “grace”, and “sin” have very different connotations to others. If we are going to have a chance to tell them about Jesus, we are going to have to learn their language or at least make an attempt to communicate in a way they understand.

The world is like the Italian supermodel. They have no reason to slow down enough to speak to us unless we give them a reason. I was talking with a friend a few days ago who attends Newspring Church, that I mentioned earlier. He said last Sunday he looked around at the people and guessed that there were probably at least a thousand out of the several thousand in attendance, who would not be hearing about Christ if it wasn’t for the way they worship.

We are in a period of transition at First Baptist. We have started a new contemporary service with good response, we are searching for an associate pastor of music and worship, our youth are creating a place for themselves to meet and have fun, our preschool is thriving and expands more each year, and those are only a few examples of areas where there is change and growth. There are many more where God is moving and wants to show us what He can do. However, if we let our pettiness and personal preferences get in the way of seeing God and His plan for our church and our lives then we will miss out on His blessings every time.

Let’s embrace what God has in front of us, and use the tools He has given us to reach those who need Him the most.

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Acts 2:1-6

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

it's a shame churches feel the need to compromise God's word and become "seeker friendly" Music is a gift from God, the unsaved cannot worship in the same manner as the saved because it is foolishness unto them and they do not understand. We try to make them "feel" comfortable, Christ doesn't save by "feeling" Churches need to be separate from the world and stick to scripture and let Christ do the rest. Big does not equate with success. What are we as christians doing to disciple new christians? Are we teaching them to follow the word uncompromisingly? Obviously the church today would have to answer no. We're teaching them we'll have your music but put God's words to it, we'll become so much like you the only difference is we're going to heaven. The message does change with these kinds of methods. Get back to scripture and following God's word. This may be a narrow view but Christ said Narrow is the way and few there be that find it. We need to stop trying to make people feel good about coming to church and stop being so man centered and become Christ centered. If we're Christ centered everything else will follow.

Outsider said...

I am a local Edgefield resident that wasn't raised Baptist. I was raised in a Christian church that would consider the "Old Time Baptist" style to be compromising with the world. Why? Because it didn't fit their 'style' of worship. Many would be surprised to learn that many of the hymns that they consider so sacred had the melody that men like Martin Luther borrowed from songs sung in the local bars of their era. When will we Christians stop turning our methods into sacred cows? When we we stop "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel" over things that God's Word says absolutely nothing about. We can keep our smug self-righteous spirits and condemn the efforts of people to make the gospel available to people without our specific religious backgrounds or we can be like the apostle Paul who said "I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."

I applaud the wisdom of this pastor's blog and plan to attend the contemporary service there soon. Something, by the way, I don't think I would have ever been inclined to do had I not read his blog.

Keep up the good work, Edgefield needs this kind of evanglistic heart.

Anonymous said...

May I challenge you to go to this site and read it with an open mind and with the question always in the forefront ... is this true ... does the Bible really state these things.
http://www.av1611.org/question/cqtool.html God's word is anything BUT silent in this area. I Cor. 14:7-11 Christians need to be closer to Christ than they are to the world. If the church does not take a solid uncompromising stand on the word of God it will compromise in every area. God is quite clear to be separate from the world and the worldly desires ... God is a spirit and those that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. If christians would walk closer to Christ, there wouldn't be nearly the divisiveness in churches we have today. This isn't about personal opinions - God doesn't care about our personal opinions - He doesn't change His standards because we think it would be much more fun to go to church if we could have dancing in the church or if it would be more fun if we could go out and have a beer from time to time - He is a Holy and Righteous and Pure God and He commands His children to be Holy, we are to "let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" "come out from among them and be separate"... it is only His opinion that matters and He has been quite clear as to how christians are to live. Search the scriptures and you will find He has an awful lot to say about music. Music is not amoral at all. What you win people with is what you win them to. We need to be obedient to God's word and win them with the preaching of the word not with the rock sounding music of the world. Also, music is not a tool that God uses to bring people to Him, He uses the preaching of the word ... it is through the foolishness of preaching He says in His word. Sin is sin and churches have become way too tolerant and way to world friendly. People are dying and going to hell and chruches are arguing over musical preference!!! My how our focus has deteriorated over the years! It is GOD's preference that matters, it is God's word that stands through all eternity and God is the one and only way to heaven. God does not need music in the church -- take it out and listen to the preaching ... see if Christ is high and lifted up because His word clearly states "if I be lifted up I (not man, not music, not friends) will draw all men unto me." We think WE have something to do with people getting saved ... hogwash ... it is God and God alone. It is our job to let the light of Christ shine through us it is our job to lift Him up so others can see Jesus in our daily lives. CCM takes "Jesus" out of a lot of their lyrics because they don't want to seem too preachy or don't want to turn anyone off. Well friends, Christ is the only one that can save and if we think for one second that entertaining is helping God out, we need to get our focus and priorities right.

outsider said...

Anonymous,
What?! I read your link and it makes about as much sense as does your pointless ramblings about music and it's lack of importance in what the church is doing.

No I can't prove that "rock" music is justifiable biblically, but neither can you prove that about any music style. But to suggest that music has no value in church life or evangelism is indeed extra-biblical and ignores much of what the bible says about "singing" and "music" from both the Old and New Testaments. Yes, I do agree that to argue over music is a distraction to what the church has been called to do... but remember that it was you 'anonymous' that challenged this blog on the grounds of music and style and tried to ignorantly cite that such was unscriptural.

Remember, it wasn't the sinner that was the greatest hindrance to Jesus Christ, but the Scribes and Pharisees that was spouting the same garbage about Jesus' style and the fact it didn't fit the "traditions of man."

So go ahead with your line of thinking and rest in your "us four and no more" mode of thinking and feel very warm and pious about yourself and how you have no responsibility for winning others to Christ (since nobody can do that) and like the Pharisees of old with soon pass from the stage of history having made no real mark on their world.

Christianity has never been advanced by passive "lifestyle" evangelism or by those who are so bound to their traditions that they serve as nothing more than critics on the sidelines.

Anonymous said...

If you would read the scriptures, focus on God's holiness you would come to realize faith is not based on senuousness - as in things that make us feel good through our senses but true faith is based on God's word. You read God's word and truly seek him and you will come to the realization that the contemporary style of worship (that the world promotes when in fact the world isn't worshiping our God) is an offense to God's holiness and does nothing to build up the character or the standards of Christ. God's word will convict and lead the way. Let God be true and every man a liar.