This is a Revolution!

I cannot help but feel very passionately about being relevant to culture. We have taken a lot of heat for the way we think…but mainly because those that are attacking don’t seem to understand exacly what we are talking about.
Life changes…culture changes…what we did that worked 5, 10 or 20 years ago…doesn’t always work today.
Todays generation is different than any other generation before it, and will be different from the generations to come.

Take a look at this group called Ephesus, watch their video, then come back and let us know what you think.

This is the kind of group that is taking notice and making a difference in their community.

If you are or know of a similar group, send us a link and we would love to check it out.

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About Jimmy Eldridge

I am a husband, a father, a son, a brother and most of all, a follower of our most gracious savior Christ Jesus. Who are you following?

50 thoughts on “This is a Revolution!

  1. Jimmy,

    1. The video makes a good argument for speaking the language of the culture. I have no problem with this in theory. Sadly, I’ve heard this exact argument soooo many times. The end result of this argument is changing church services into meaningless seeker-sensitive services that barely teach or preach anything from God’s word.

    2. I think you should point people to their podcast as well. Let’s listen to their sermons and determine if they are preaching Christ-Centered and Cross-Focused sermons or if this is just another ‘watered down’ zero substance form of a ‘seeker sensitive’ service.

    I’m downloading some of the sermons right now.

    3. If we buy this argument then we have to learn a new language and change our services every 2 years. I’m not sure how practical that is.

  2. Chris,

    I do not understand why the negative connation accredited to being “seeker-sensitive” that I have read from you, Ken Silva, and many others that love to bash these kind of churches.

    Why is it necessary to bash and belittle these types of churches? What is the purpose? Does this serve the greater good? How is this beneficial to the body of Christ?
    Why is it that the terms relevant and culture, just to name a few, are considered taboo by those that term themselves “fundamentalists”?
    Why is it that because we sing “Contemporary Praise and Worship” and not out of the appropriate denominational hymnal, we are considered to be theologicaly off?

    I grew up in a “fundamentlist” church. Many members of my family still pastor those types of churches. I am still amazed at the amount of division among the “fundamentalists”. As a matter of fact…the only thing that seems to be able to unite some of them is the ability to bash the “seeker-sensitive” heathens.

    I am not saying by any stretch of the imagination that there are not some seeker-sensitve churches out there that are not right…but you simply cannot lump them all into a negative light.
    Just as you cannot paint all fundamentlist churches into a postive light.

    What do you think about most when you think about how Christ saved you? Is it the law, judgement, the legality of it all…or is it Christ’ mercy, grace and compassion that He had on an undeserving wretch of a sinner, and that He gave you new life and a promise of an eternity with Him?
    I know that you cannot live for Christ without obeying His commands…so they both go hand in hand…but it is His mercy that He had on me that amazes me most.

  3. I would also add that what killed, or nearly killed companies like Sears, Woolworth, IBM, among a myriad of others, is also the same thing that is killing many of todays denominational churches….”the refusal to admit a culture shift and embrace the changes necessary to adapt to those changes”.

  4. Jimmy,

    Great questions. I glad to see that you’d like some clarification regarding my negative opinions of ‘seeker sensitive’ methodologies.

    1. I have no beef with contemporary music, powerpoint or plasma screens. These are tools that we can and should use to help us get the message of the gospel out and to help us feed and teach Christians sound Christ-Centered doctrine.

    2. The issue comes when, in the name of being ‘seeker sensitive’ and ‘relevant’ you chuck songs that are overtly Christian (hymns) and replace them with songs that are vaguely spiritual.

    For instance: can you please tell me exactly what makes the song “This is the air I breathe” Christian?

    Answer: Nothing

    “This is the Air I Breathe” sounds like the lyrics were written by an obsessed girl friend who was begging her boy friend to not leave her. You know the lyric “I’m desperate for you, I’m lost without you”.

    Yet this song and many more like it are sung in ‘seeker sensitive’ services around the country sunday after sunday. While the great hymns of the Christian faith have fallen into disuse. If the way to be relevant is to offer services with contemporary music then lets take these great hymns, that are overtly Christian and let’s modernize the melodies. Any new songs that come down the pike needs to be just as overtly Christian as the great hymns before they should ever be considered worthy to sing in any service.

    3. ‘Seeker Sensitive’ is also the reason given for eliminating expository and expositional sermons that richly teach God’s word. In their place are dumbed down self-help sermons that are practical and relevant and dole out only two or three disconnected Bible verses at a time. Sermon topics include how to series on managing finances, dealing with dysfunctional relationships, sexual satisfaction, happiness, steps to successful careers. (All of these are man-centered and tell me nothing about What God’s word says in context, nor do these types of sermons teach sound doctrine. The only reason they are even in church is because that’s the type of fluff a ‘seeker’ wants to hear.)

    Again, Jimmy I have no problem exploring alternate ways to ‘do’ church. Where I draw the line is when that ‘alternate method’ messes with the message that we are clearly instructed to proclaim.

    9 times out of 10 The end result of these seeker sensitive services is that you fill these mega churches with a bunch of ‘baptized pagans’ who don’t know anything about what the Bible actually teaches and who have no real understanding what the real gospel message is.

    This does not qualify as fulfilling the great commission which tells us to go and make ‘disciples’.

    Jesus defines a disciple as one who abides in His word (John 8:31).

    That’s pretty tough to do if you never actually hear it at church.

    4. Regarding what I think about regarding how Christ saved me.

    I am the chief of sinners. I sin daily and my sins are not trivial. I know that I deserve God’s eternal judgement and punishment.

    But, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for MY sins when he was flogged, beaten and crucified under Pontius Pilate nearly 2000 years ago.

    By faith I’ve been given the gift of salvation which was won for me by Jesus Christ.

    I believe Jesus death and resurrection are historical events and that the Bible itself is the word of God and that the ‘stories’ it records are historical and true. (if that makes me a fundamentalist, then I’ll have to live with the label)

    Does any of this help you better understand where I am coming from?

  5. One more thing Jimmy

    We can never forget that it is NOT our methods that grow the church. It is ALWAYS the Holy Spirit doing that through the proclamation of God’s word.

    I’m writing an article for you on this. I’ve been working on it for a few weeks and It is nearly finished.

    It is entitled ‘Paul the Apostle of Irrelevance’. I’ll send you an email as soon as it is finished. It explains in much more depth what I am getting at.

  6. Freakin’ Awesome! I love the video and the message it contains is spot on. I cannot believe someone watched that video and then wants to debate worship music or “seeker sensitive” Stop criticizing what you don’t understand or embrace. Do what you do well – let others do what they do well. Move on, get over it, find a way to win people to Christ and disciple them. These Ephesus guys are finding A way – Applaud them! Rejoice with them. If you are more traditional and it’s working – you found A way – and thats freakin awesome too!

    I love what Ed Stetzer says – he says we need to be “seeker comprehensible.” This isn’t about relevance or seekers or styles – its about making Jesus known in the culture we live in. I’ve been to the countries of Zambia Africa, Thailand, Romania and Texas. Guess what – the cultures are all different and that means we have to speak differently. You don’t go to Thailand and teach them to Speak King James English and Sing Martin Luther’s Hymns to convert them and help them encounter God. You learn their language and their culture and then you can speak the truth.

  7. Wow, very spicy conversation!

    Well, I’m reading a book now called “Revolution” right now by George Barna, the guy who wrote “Frog in the Kettle”. I have to say, it’s very revealing about where the “church” is headed. I’ll put together a post on it because I believe it will show that traditional church, while set up for the reason to help Christ-followers live a God-centered life, has begun to lose it’s focus. It has become more focused on the institution rather than the relationship.

    Churchgoers have begun to worship the traditions, buildings, and rituals of the religion and unfortunately have forgotten about the relationship with God. Let me lay some facts on ya about churched believers (these are quoted from the book which are taken from studies done by the Barna group):

    On the average regarding worship:
    – The biweekly attendance at worship services is, by believers’ own admission, generally the only time they worship God.
    – 80% of believers do not feel they have entered into the presence of God, or experienced a connection with Him, during the worship service.
    – Half of churched believers admit they have not felt a spiritual connection with God in the past year
    On the average regarding Spiritual Growth:
    – Only 9% of all born-again adults have a biblical worldview, that is a view that believes in absolute truth and that the Bible contains that truth.
    – Althought the average churched Christian contends the Bible is accurate in what it teaches, they spend less time in a year than they do watching TV, listening to music, reading other books or publications, and talking about hobbies or other interests.
    On the average regarding Stewardship:
    – Churched Christians give away about 3% of their income in a typical year and feel great about their ‘sacrificial giving’
    – Fewer than 1 out of every 10 churched Christians donates at least 10% of their income to churches or nonprofit organizations (More than 1/3 of them claim to do so)

    I’ll detail some other facts in my post. I say all this to convey that we are not trying to bash each other here. There is an obvious problem with the ‘Church’ in general.
    We are losing people through hurt, disillusionment, and fights over things that really don’t matter. Rather than attacking each other, we should look at our churches and ask God to show us the board in our eye, or better yet, work together to see how we can change this trend of pushing away the world.

    We’re arguing over wrapping paper when what matters is the gift inside. As long as whatever church you’re observing is pointing to the absolute truth that Jesus is the way to salvation, He is God’s son, and that a personal relationship is the way to live, and they are using the Bible as the only basis of that absolute truth, then why should we attack? Why cannibalize against each other?

    More on my post. Sorry this comment is so long. Love every one of you guys! Remember we’re all in God’s family!

  8. Chris,

    Thank you for the clarification.

    I respectfully disagree with you…especially on the “mega-churches” and “baptized pagans”.

    As far as the song This Is The Air I Breathe, If you pay attention to ALL of the lyrics, there is no doubt as to who it is referencing.

    Here are ALL of the lyrics…judge for yourself:

    Breathe

    This is the air I breathe
    This is the air I breathe
    Your holy presence living in me

    This is my daily bread
    This is my daily bread
    Your very word spoken to me

    And I, I’m desperate for you
    And I, I’m I’m lost without you

  9. Chris, I have to ask if you’ve ever read the whole song? That’s crazy man. It’s pretty obvious who’s being talked about there. Also, I keep going back to your blog and have not yet read an answer on why it is Ok to quote someone who didn’t believe in a literal Hell, but then castigate “emergent” authors for quoting someone who’s belief’s lay along the same lines? Email me if you want to. 🙂

  10. N8, great points.

    I will ditto what N8 said.

    The purpose of this post was not to insight argument, rather to call attention to someone stepping out, taking a chance and doing something different to appeal to people and invite them to be a part of God’s family.

  11. Not to add fuel to fire but I felt since the song was challenged that I should give some scriptural basis. Needless to say this is just a little part of the many scripture dealing with how God breathes life and the holy spirit into us, that his word is our daily bread and the bread of life, and that we truly are nothing without Him.

    I know that the song’s not everyone’s fave, in fact, I’m not much of a Smitty fan myself. But it is very scriptural, while very simple.

    Genesis 2:7 (duh)
    John 20:22
    2 Timothy 3:16-17
    John 6:25-40

    and these are just a few.

  12. Jimmy,
    The move went well, My wife lost my debit card so that’s kind of scary but we’re still looking for it. I woke up Sunday morning with Strep throat. My throat was just a mass of grossness. I’m still recovering. Starting to feel a little better. 🙂 I do have a job interview tomorrow so we’re enlisting people to pray all over the place.
    Peace.

  13. Come now gentlemen. You cannot possibly think ‘Breathe’ is Overtly Christian.

    Let’s do a little exercise together.

    First, Re-read the lyrics.

    This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me
    This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me
    And I, I’m desperate for you
And I, I’m I’m lost without you

    Second, Imagine yourself in a Mormon Church and you hear them singing this song. Is there anything in this song that specifies which deity this song is supposed to be sung to?? Is there any reason a Mormon can’t sing this song?

    Third, Imagine yourself in a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall and you hear them singing this song. Is there any reason they couldn’t sing this song to their ‘god’?

    Fourth, explain which GREAT Christian doctrine does this song reinforce?

    If you are honest with yourself, you’ll have no choice to admit that this song has no meat. It is just generically ‘spiritual’.

    Compare ‘Breathe’ to this great hymn and you will see that there is no comparison.

    Thy strong word did cleave the darkness;
    at thy speaking it was done;
    for created light we thank thee,
    while thine ordered seasons run:
    Alleluia, alleluia! Praise to thee who light dost send!
    Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia without end!
     
    Lo, on those who dwelt in darkness,
    dark as night and deep as death,
    broke the light of thy salvation,
    breathed thine own live-giving breath:
    Alleluia, alleluia! Praise to thee who light dost send!
    Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia without end!
     
    Thy strong word bespeaks us righteous;
    bright with thine own holiness,
    glorious now, we press toward glory,
    and our lives our hopes confess:
    Alleluia, alleluia! Praise to thee who light dost send!
    Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia without end!
     
    God the Father, Light-Creator,
    to thee laud and honor be;
    to thee, Light of Light begotten,
    praise be sung eternally;
    Holy Spirit, Light-Revealer, glory, glory be to thee;
    mortals, angels, now and ever praise the Holy Trinity.

    This hymn is overtly Christian. It couldn’t be sung in a mormon church. It reinforces the doctrines of creation, God’s sustaining hand in creation, the trinity, and Christian, sanctification and more and all this in just 4 verses.

    This hymn has meat and rich content. It is manly, bold and Biblically true.

    ‘Breathe’ is airy-fairy, it is generically spiritual, lacks substance and is a girly song.
    Overtime I hear the verse ‘I’m desperate for you.” I hear the voice of one of my former girlfriends begging me not to break up with her.

    Come on guys. Let’s be manly, bold and proud of our Christian doctrine and Biblical truth. Let’s be like the great Christian men of old and boldly worship the one true God with songs, hymns and spiritual songs that have real meat, real substance, real doctrine that is really narrow and really true.

    Let’s trash these girly and meaningless songs.

    That’s what I call being relevant!

  14. Chris, I get that you don’t like it. I do. Your Mormon stance is irrelevant. They sing those hymns of old to that you love. I’ll refuse to address the girly statement because that seems to be just a little too sexist to me. I agree that this shouldn’t be the only song I sing, but my wife (who is all woman) happens to love this song. Like or not Chris, your hymns use words that many people don’t understand today. It’s just the way it is. Are you honestly suggesting that there isn’t “fluffy” hymns out there? Did God die? Can we not write new music today?

  15. Chris,
    That hymn, would interfere with my attention to God, which is what worship is about. I’d concentrate on stumbling over lyrics in an English I don’t speak, probably with a hymnal in my hands, which would keep me from raising them as the scripture commands. In short it would be pretentious and gaudy and anything but worship. I don’t like Breathe either, but not for your reasons, that’s for sure!

  16. Ok Chris…I will agree that perhaps lyrically Breathe is not as deep as the hymn you mentioned…or “overtly” christian.

    What about songs like:

    We Fall Down

    We fall down
    We lay our crowns
    At the feet of Jesus

    The greatness of mercy and love
    At the feet of Jesus

    We cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy”
    We cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy”
    We cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy”
    Is the Lamb

    Or how about;

    Forever

    Give thanks to the Lord
    Our God and King
    His love endures forever
    For He is good, He is above all things
    His love endures forever
    Sing praise, sing praise

    With a mighty hand
    and outstretched arm
    His love endures forever
    For the life that’s been reborn
    His love endures forever
    Sing praise, sing praise
    Sing praise, sing praise

    Forever God is faithful
    Forever God is strong
    Forever God is with us
    Forever
    Forever

    From the rising to the setting sun
    His love endures forever
    By the grace of God
    We will carry on
    His love endures forever
    Sing praise, sing praise
    Sing praise, sing praise

    Or how about;

    Shout To The Lord

    My Jesus, My Savior
    Lord there is none like you
    All of my days, I want to praise
    The wonders of your mighty love
    My comfort, My Shelter
    Tower of refuge and strength
    Let every breath, all that I am
    Never cease to worship you

    Shout to the Lord, all the earth let us sing
    Power and majesty, praise to the king
    Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
    At the sound of your name
    I sing for joy at the work of your hands
    Forever I’ll love you forever I’ll stand
    Nothing compares to the promise I have in you

    My point is this Chris,

    I love some of the old hymns…but even many of them in their day were considered too “secular” by some people of that time because they sounded too much like many of the old bar tunes.
    We do quite a few of the old hymns that are easily translated to “modern” english to make them understandable for those of us that do not speak the “King James English”.
    You cannot say that because of what you consider to be a “generically spiritual” song, that all modern contemporary praise and worship is not, as you coined it, “overtly christian”.

    And as usual…this post has been taken WAY off from it’s original intent.

  17. Ok, Smitty didn’t write it. Some woman named Marie Barnett did. One of the things that kills me is often when we call something contemporary what we mean is late 80’s or early 90’s contemporary. This song is a great illustration. I love to jam to this song while I’m doing office work. I can’t remember the last time I sang it in church. BTW, I love that song too Jimmy!

  18. Joe,

    I am not arguing that we should only sing old hymns. The style of the music does not determine whether a song is Christian or secular. The lyrics do.

    My suggestions regarding wheter a mormon can sing the song or not is also not a hard and fast rule. It is more designed to open people’s eyes to the content or lack of content in the songs we’re singing.

    My point is that in the name of being revelvant sooooo many churches has stopped singing songs that had real and overt Christian substance and exchanged them for songs that have almost zero Christian content.

    I think this is a huge error and mistake that must be corrected. What we sing has a huge impact on what we believe. Even post-modern prognosticators like Tony Campolo agree with this fact.

    The latin term for this idea is Lex orandi, lex credendi

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lex_orandi,_lex_credendi

    So if you sing songs that teach the great doctrines of the Christian faith, it will deepen your faith and belief. If you sing heretical songs, you may come to believe those heresies. If you sing songs that teach nothing then you believe practically nothing and your doctrinal development is stunted.

  19. Jimmy,

    I’d like to remind the folks here that you were the one that linked to this blog entry by Chris Elrod.

    http://chriselrod.typepad.com/chris_elrod_dot_com/2007/03/let_me_make_two.html

    Let me remind you of his point. (Which you liked and which I am actually here defending)

    Elrod Said: “If the church is going to be relevant in the coming generations we’ve got to get back to reaching men…and helping them become Godly husbands and fathers. In order for the church to reach men we’ve got to have music on Sundays that has the lyrical depth of John Newton, the musical kick of Guns N’ Roses and led by a man that looks like Ted Nugent.”

    I am in strongly in favor of this radical and relevant idea.

    Let’s get to work men. Far too many of the songs we’re singing in church are crap.

  20. Have you guys not seen the incredible contemporary Christian music that is being published by a group called Indelible Grace?

    These folks have taken the greatest old hymns and re-worked the melodies into contemporary settings and have published all of them as an online hymnal complete with chord charts and piano music.

    They also have released albums with really really good arrangements of these songs.

    Maranatha and Willow-Creek’s songs don’t even come close to depth of these amazingly rich Christian songs.

    Here are some samples

    http://www.igracemusic.com/sandrahymns/

    [audio src="http://64.147.16.238/thedeepend/whoisthis.mp3" /]

    http://igracemusic.com/igracemusic/hymnbook/hymns.html

    You guys haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the riches that are available to us in worship.

    Take off the ‘arm floaties’ and come on over to the deep end of the pool. This is the side of the pool where the real men hang out.

  21. It’s your second to last paragraph that is arrogant beyond belief (Petra Fan’s Enjoy that little pun) You have no idea what music I listen to. You couldn’t tell me three of the CD’s in my truck right now. Enjoy your end of the pool, of “real men” make silly testosterone filled sweeping, meatless statements, I’ll stay over here where I’m at. I thought crap like that was reserved for a certain other guy you and I know, Chris.
    All of this from a post that had nothing to do with music.

  22. Joe,

    That you defended ‘breathe’ speaks volumes.

    That you we’re offended by what I says tells me that your skin is far too thin.

    Consider this from the book of Proverbs.

    Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
    profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

    Prov. 27:6

    I will never pull a punch with you Joe. You may not like what I have to say but nothing I say is spoken from malice but from a heart of a friend that wishes your good not harm.

  23. Chris, I appreciate that, I do. But this time you are wrong. You’ve never worshiped with me, you have no idea what I prefer in worship. I disagree with you on this song. It seems to me to be rather disingenuous to make the rabid assumption you made. My skin is fine, I just couldn’t resist the Beyond Belief part. I appreciate the no pulling punches, nor will I with you. So I’m saying that I think you made some rather large jumps in your logic.
    ***Now I’m off to find my Smitty CD**** which incidentally I haven’t listened to in years.

  24. Chris,
    I could not even finish reading the hymn you quoted because I do not speak like that. I enjoy a lot of the old hymns that have been modernized into a more contempory style!
    You have every right not to like the song “Breathe” I happen to love it. I do not agree with your take on its depthness. When I sing that song the joy of knowing that Christ Jesus reigns in my life is what flows through me! “Your holy presence living in me!” Wow, when I sing this song I am remind every time how the breath I am taking was given to me by God. I breathe, my life is complete, it is full because Christ Jesus reigns supreme in my life! That is the air I breathe! I know you think the song is stupid but to knock it and say it lacks theoligical deptness is absurd! One of the greatest theologies you could know is that Jesus Christ and His holy power is in you. When pageans sing that song, it is speaks voulums to them. Why? Becasue they have no idea how that feels to know that Jesus Christ reigns in their life!
    Sunday was my second Sunday at Mars Hill. My parents went to church wit h us there. They are very conservative, fundamentalists. My dad actually enjoyed it! When I go back to my parents church, I see and feel no energy. Those people our not excited to be at church! Sunday at Mars Hill the people were excited to be there. They were singing and claping and enjoying Jesus! I personal would rather see people that enjoy the One who gave then life. Than to look bored out of thier mind. It was one of the best messages I have heard in a long time. It was full of scripture and good theology. The whole service was designed for you to focus on Christ ‘s life here on earth and how He died for us! That is what church should be about JESUS. Singing is a small portion of the service. However I do believe the songs we sing should be in english we can understand and we should walk away feeling Gods presence.
    Just my thoughts 🙂

  25. Ok, these comments are getting rediculous. We’re starting to sound like the Baptist General Convention.

    If we’re going to argue music, let’s do it in conversation or through private messages or something. I’m worried about the damage this could do to possible non-Christians who are looking here after being disillusioned in church. They’ll see that we’re just like the failing churches of today, fighting amongst themselves over stuff that isn’t worth a fight.

    I grew up in the traditional Baptist church, in fact I used to fight for the traditional hymns, but what I realized is that if the music they sing is connecting people with God and they are singing it to God, then I’ve no right to judge.

    Bottom line, we’re still arguing over wrapping paper here. Let’s get over ourselves and agree to disagree, ok?

    Love you all, of course, fellow brethren . . . and Erica 😀

  26. Erica,

    Dr. Boyd’s sermon on Cristus Victor had much to it that I agreed with and could say amen to.

    Apply the principles of his sermon to these songs in this discussion.

    Our Lord and savior tells us that those who worship him “MUST worship him in Spirit and TRUTH”.

    Dr. Boyd told you on Sunday, “we are to be hell plunderers.” And that we are to take those things that are not in line with God’s will and bring them in line with God’s will.

    This is what you were told on Sunday.

    The reason I am fighting for the Christian church to sing hymns and songs that are overtly Christian and proclaim the great truths of scripture is because our Lord said that our worship must be in both Spirit AND Truth.

    Far too many of the praise chorus that we sing don’t have enough truth in them to fill a thimble. I find it VERY hard to worship Our Lord with songs that contain little or no truth in them.

    Let me give you another example. You told me that you really learned a lot from Dr. Boyd’s sermon on Cristus Victor.

    Please tell me which of the two songs we’ve been dialoging about overtly proclaim and exalt the Victorious Christ?

    Breathe does not. The hymn I posted does?

    Your issue with the hymn that I posted was that the language was “not your language”. This is a petty and shallow complaint that avoids the real issue. If you don’t like the “Thy’s and Thou’s” then modernize the lyrics.

    I am not defending antiquated language.

    My point is that we should and must be singing songs that exalt our victorious king with deep and rich words of truth.

    I’m not defending ‘tradition’ or a ‘religion’ I am defending Our Lord’s standard for worship.

    On Sunday nights I’ve been attending a church where the worship is deep, rich and vibrant. All the songs are contemporary yet every song is packed with Biblical truth and every song overtly proclaims the Christus Victor. Some of the songs are ancient, and a good many of them were written just a few short years ago. The worship at that church is amazing and the people in that church are alive and vibrant and share this incredible sense of community together. When I am there I feel like I am at home with an extended family. We care for each other, we eat with each other, we work together to feed the poor in our community. This is an amazing church.

    Sadly, the church I teach at on Sunday mornings sings the latest praise choruses coming out of Saddleback, Maranantha and Willow Creek. There isn’t enough truth in them for me to even say amen. The church I teach at has no sense of community to it at all.

    I experience this stark contrast every single week. I am telling you that if you are only getting these shallow praise chorus at church you are being robbed. You are being given a twinkie when you could be having a steak.

    John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit AND TRUTH.

    Think about it.

  27. Interesting points Chris. (I don’t really care for a lot of the stuff from Saddleback or Willow Creek either.)

    Give me your feedback on these songs;

    I Can Stand

    Verse:
    You have revived my soul, immersed me in Your Spirit
    Even though I should walk through the valley of the shadow
    I will be bold, I shall be strong, for You my God are with me

    Chorus:
    By Your grace, by Your love, By Your resurrection power I can overcome
    With Your hand on my life I know that I can
    Stand by Your love By Your resurrection power I can overcome
    With Your hand on my life I know that I can stand

    We Love You

    Verse
    We come before you now
    Holy hands lifted high,
    To worship You – worship You
    With voices lifted sing
    Praises to our King
    We worship You – worship You

    Chorus
    We Love You
    We Love You
    We Love You
    Jesus, We Love You

    bridge
    With this simple song of praise
    We exalt you Lord today

    I appreciate your honest feedback!

    Jimmy

  28. Chris,
    Get over yourself. Worship is about God not you. You’re like the disciples poised to rebuke someone doing God’s work just because he or she is not with you. Show me a “deep” Psalm and maybe I could find some value in your judgments, but until then you’re arguing nothing but personal taste and using it to put down someone else.

  29. Jimmy,

    My honest feedback is this.

    (Forgive me if I sound like Simon from American Idol)

    Those songs are not bad and not great. I see that both weave in Biblical elements, that is to be commended. But we could still do better. Here’s why.

    If you look a little closer to the words you’ll notice that the second song appears to be focusing on us. This isn’t exactly a bad thing because more than a few of the psalms to this.

    If these songs were on the worship docket I’d want to also put a song or two into the mix that was even more overt and proclamational where the clear subject of the song is Christ and what he’s done for us, rather than what we’re doing for him. These would be songs that thank our Lord for our salvation, for his forgiveness, for his grace.

    Here is an example. This song is called Redeemed, Restored, Forgiven. Not only does this song thank our Lord for what He has done for us, it is also part prayer.

    Redeemed, restored, forgiven,
    Through Jesus’ precious blood,
    Heirs of His home in heaven,
    Oh, praise our pardoning God!
    Praise Him in tuneful measures
    Who gave His Son to die;
    Praise Him whose sevenfold treasures
    Enrich and sanctify.

    Once on the dreary mountain
    We wandered far and wide,
    Far from the cleansing fountain,
    Far from the pierced side;
    But Jesus sought and found us
    And washed our guilt away;
    With cords of love He bound us
    To be His own for aye.

    Dear Master, Thine the glory
    Of each recovered soul.
    Ah! who can tell the story
    Of love that made us whole?
    Not ours, not ours, the merit;
    Be thine alone the praise
    And ours a thankful spirit
    To serve Thee all our days.

    Now keep us, holy Savior,
    In Thy true love and fear
    And grant us of Thy favor
    The grace to persevere
    Till, in Thy new creation,
    Earth’s time-long travail o’er,
    We find our full salvation
    And praise Thee evermore.

    Again this is not a matter of style or personal taste for me. This about the very heart of what it means to worship our Lord in Spirit AND Truth.

    Another very cool aspect of singing old hymns as well as new songs is the idea that we are in communion with the saints that preceded us.

    Christianity didn’t just start yesterday. The songs we’ve inherited from our fathers are a rich heritage of Christian worship through the ages. When we sing them, update them and bring them into our worship community, we in a very real sense connect ourselves with the worhsip communities that have preceded us.

  30. SLW,

    I’m sorry that you feel that way. However, you are incorrect. This is not about personal taste nor is this about me.

    As for ‘deep’ Psalms. I hope that your anger toward me was the purpose for your statement because fact is, if you’d open the Psalms you’d see that even the shortest amont them is deep. But, since you’ve asked for one example here it is.

    Psa. 32:1   Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 2 Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. 3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD” — and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah 6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. 7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. 9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. 10 Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. 11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

  31. N8,
    I missed your rebuke, and in light of it, will tone down my rhetoric with this remark.

    Chris,
    I don’t see how you can call Psalms deep and not see that fluff like “Breathe” is along the same lines. Most of the Psalms are about personal expression of heartfelt emotion toward God. They are not deep in the sense that they celebrate doctrinal points (a few do) and they concentrate on singing to God (they are songs) rather than about him. I think you’re confusing style with substance. If the picture of heaven is any help, what do you make of that which transpires before the throne of God (e.g. Rev 4 & 5)?
    I am not angry with you, just a little frustrated with your point of view. If I shared that with you, I think I would be pressing for songs whose lyrical content was borrowed from the scriptures rather than from a theologian. Wait, if you did that, you’d end up with half the worship fluff that’s been written over the last 30 years!

  32. Jesus died on a cross – sing about it however you want to! Just sing! Keep singing. Keep telling the story. Tell it however you want to. Just stop this nonsense. Good grief! Tomorrow I might post a message called 10 reasons your church sucks and you are one of them. That ought to get us started on something fun. The music debate is over – its dead – its done – fight about it all you want but it will NEVER EVERY CHANGE anyone’s mind.

  33. Chris,
    I am sorry you think my argument is shllow. We can go round and round and round about this. Here is the reality. You have the right to your opinion on songs just like I have the right to my opinion. I think breathe has spiritual deptness you do not. I am not sure we are going to change each others mind. Sure, there are songs out there that we sing that are theologicaly incorrect in both modern and old time songs. I like a lot of the hymns in a modern format. I have seen you argue this whole thing about songs have to be about God and not about us before. We were created in Christ Jesus. We are nothing without him. It does not matter a whole lot if the song has to do with how much I need God or what Christ did for me. We were made to need God. Through out the bible you see men crying out to God about were they have fallen short. We need God. Why not sing it! Christ lived a perfect life and died on the cross for me. Why not sing it! I think it is arguing in circles to say you can not sing about both.
    Do you enjoy listening to sermons from Mars Hill?
    Why do you attend two different churches? Why not just one?
    That is all I have for now. 🙂

  34. Chris,

    Thanks for the critique on the 2 songs.

    Me and a friend of mine wrote the first one back in 1999 and the second one I wrote in 2005.

    We sing them at our church and people absolutely love them. the first one has been recorded by 2 different artists and the second one is scheduled to be recorded later this year.

    They are my ‘modern day psalms’ or ‘hymns’.

    They speak to me and others like me, on a personal level. They help me express to God my appreciation for all He has done.

    Singing is only one ‘expression’ of worship, and is not the all in all element of worship.

    As I tell our people all of the time, worship is not just something we do in church…worship is a lifestyle.

  35. Jimmy,

    I agree that there is a huge ‘subjective’ aspect involved in our preferences regarding the songs we prefer and sing.

    But, we should never let pure subjectivity be the sole way by which we evaluate the songs we sing in church.

    This is why I am here taking the heat for defending an objective criteria for evaluating these songs.

  36. Erica,

    It is perfectly okay if we don’t agree. One of the great things about the internet is being able to be exposed to different ideas. I love the dialogue. I really learn a lot from it.

    I’ve just started listening to Mars Hill’s sermons. I’ve heard a lot of good and bad about Rob Bell and I wanted to judge for myself based upon hearing the man for myself whether he’s a misunderstood visionary or a dangerous emergent heretic.

    One thing I can say to his credit is that he actually spends time preaching from the scriptures. He covers 6x more ground in the Bible on any given Sunday than Rick Warren. I appreciate the fact that he actually wrestles with theology. He doesn’t treat the people in his church like a bunch of 3rd graders. He assumes that they have a brain.

    I’m certainly do not agree with all of his theology. And, what he is fighting against actually resonates with me.

    As far as why I am attending two churches, it is a long story. Let’s just say that myself and my family have struggled with lack of good solid Biblical preaching from the pulpit and worship that is repititious and mundane. I’ve tried to help change things from the inside but I have no real voice or influence with the head pastors. I’ve been watching this church die for the last two years. We’ve lost over half of our membership in the last 24 months but the pastors still insist on doing things the same way. It is sad and tragic.

    The other church we’ve been attending has offered me a teaching position and I am seriously considering accepting it.

    The whole situation breaks my heart.

  37. I’ve always wanted to do a whole West Coast baseball tour. If I do, I’ll def. look you up and drink all the coffee you want to buy.

  38. I would agree that Rob Bell is a little better in the theology department than Rick Warren. You should come up to Michigan and check out Mars Hill in person. It is a great experience!
    I enjoy dialogue too. I am just not sure we will get any where on the whole music thing. Actually we probably have similar tastes. Although, I like the song Breathe!:-)
    I am sorry to hear about your church experience. It is hard to change a church that is use to do things a certain way.
    You seem to be very passionate about what you believe. You would probably do great as a teaching pastor. Your writtings on your blog are always very easy to understand and you explain things well.
    I told Joe the other day that for some reason I thought you were a Luthern minister. I am not sure why I thought that.
    Do you like a contempory service or do you like a more traditional service? You confuse me some times!lol

  39. Chris,

    I can empathize with you. I was a youth pastor at a church for a long time, and had the misfortune of watching the church dwindle to nearly nothing in about a 2 year span. It was very, very sad.

    I will pray for you in this situation Chris.

    Again, thank you for your honest critique on the 2 songs I wrote. It is appreciated.

  40. Erica,

    My theological training was under Lutherans. I have a Bachelors degree in Pastoral Ministries, Relgious Studies & Biblical Languages and a Masters Degree in Business Administration.

    I am not ordained, yet.

    I’ve been teaching at a Southern Baptist Church.

    The church my family and I have been attending at night is a Lutheran Church.

    I hope to be ordained someday. But, I leave those details in God’s hands.

  41. Chris,
    Wow, you have quite the resume! I hope one day you can get ordained! Ordination, that would be a fun discussion sometime. Joe was ordained in the Southern Baptist world.
    Have you always been Baptist?

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