Saturday, April 24, 2010

In Essentials, Unity; in Non-essentials...



Do we value all things that glorify God? Do we look at the "big picture" of what God's church truly is? Do we love and serve our brothers and sisters when we come together in times of corporate worship?

Or do we often use it as an opportunity to let trivial matters divide us?

20 comments:

Joe B said...

The theme of "whose music is the right music" is pervasive in churches.

What does it reveal?
(a) ignorance about Jesus
(b) indifference to Jesus
(c) some other "i" word

To me it supports my hypothesis: most of what happens in churches has rather little to do with Jesus Christ.

Garry said...

Scott,
Thought provoking question. I have to say first, I have not seen the video because I don't have sound where I am at now, forgive me if I am completely off base here.
We call it 'worship service' indeed, but it is not where we do our service unless we are participating in some sort of 'out front' leading perhaps. Surely the praise teams, vocal or drama teams and ministers are serving in corporate settings. Some because of giftedness, some because of calling. Either way, it is at least in part, their way of serving.
This corporate setting is where we can learn or teach, recharge or get inspired to "do unto the least of these" and all other things we do because of what we believe.
As for the 'trivial matters that divide' I have this to say about that:
This is a realative term in that something you have studied and become confident about might seem trivial to you while I, on the other hand, am still studing to determine my belief on that matter and so not trivial to me. I will say that division is not from God, satan is the author of confusion and he will use whatever is available to disable the the Kingdom growth.
Essentials are similar, who determines what is an essential in faith, other than Jesus? Is who He said He is? The Son of God, died and risen again, The Way, The Truth and The Light, the only One who can forgive our sin and save us from hell.
Once you get past that, what else is essential?
That we love God with all our heart, mind and soul. And to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. According to Jesus, that sums it up.
We come now to doctrine vs social practice (or as I take from Joe B's response, what worship style does God really endorse?) which is where the waters can become quite muddied if we confuse the two.
Doctrine is essential, Jesus IS who He said He is. No other name is given where by men can be saved.
Social practice is how I limit my exposure to things that I know might lead me to sin. These things are not necessarily 'needful' to others. As such, I should not try to push my limits onto others. Paul addressed this much better than I can in Romans 13-15, which is always a good read.
At any rate, I will answer the question you close with:
If it becomes the opportunity to divide, most likely it is satan attacking someone who is weaker in his faith rather than someone intentionally seeking to divide.
I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

Craig said...

This all reminds me of a quote from George MacDonald that I came across some years ago:

"Jesus never said that we must all think alike; but He did say that we must love one another, and not fight."

Joe B said...

When people are divided (and divisive) over matters of style, they will seldom admit it is a matter of mere taste. They will dress it up with some essential religious importance. And they go back to bloodying the walls over drums or hymns or flags or whatever.

Don't get me wong, I do not hate these folks, they are just behaving like humans...mortal humans.

In my experience, people come to church for the very purpose of being changed, adopting the shared values of God's community...at first. It is contingent on the leadership of the church, the elected and appointed officials, to model and teach these Kingdom values. A congregation obsessd with their personal tastes has been trained to be that way. They are following their leaders. They are manifesting the values they have received.
In a place where the leadership focus is set on "making the ideal worship environment", the congregation will be perpetually debating it. But in a place where the leadership focus is on The Jesus Way (love God, love your nieghbor), the congregation will breed life and peace and power and converts.

Okay, you dont believe me? Here's a test...
Who fusses the most about style issues in any church? Is it the new people who have not been inculturated? Or is it the long time members who have been breathing toxic air. Newer, more carnal believers are seldom infected, while the "mature" believers are the chief offenders.

An apple does not fall far from the tree.

tagskie said...

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Garry said...

Joe, Scott, what am I missing?

Craig said...

Just for the sake of stirring the pot a little, can I interject here that not all of these, shall we say 'aesthetic debates' are purely and merely 'matters of taste'? There are legitimate distinctions to be made in terms of what really promotes worship, and what misses the mark, perhaps ever so subtly. . .

I have, from time to time, been involved in reviewing new music for our community. And there is a fair bit of what might be called 'Contemporary Christian' music that is really catchy, and lively, and gets people excited, etc, which, when you look closely at it, is much more about me and my feelings than it is about giving worship to God. Which (it seems to me, at least) misses the point. Nor is this purely a 'contemporary' phenomenon - there are quite a few 'favorite hymns' from the 19th century that are pretty maudlin and saccharine, too.

Anyway, God is to be worshipped, and He is properly the object of our worship. No matter how we feel. . .

But always, and above all - 'Love one another, and don't fight'. One of the great 'tricks' (if I can call it that) of life in Christian community is learning how to disagree, even vehemently, while still maintaining unity and love. . .

Scott said...

I think Garry needs to see the video! :-)

It's an infomercial for the "Song-B-Mine 2000."

Description: "Tired of songs not being the way YOU want them to be when you are at church? Listen as infomercial pitchman Ricky Hayes talks up the ULTIMATE solution, by the fine folks at Pew Brothers."

Garry said...

Scott,
I was finally able to see the video with the sound. I understand the point I think.
It begs a question in my mind though, does the division come from people who are okay with the worship style as it is or from the people who strive to change it to suit themselves?
Riddle me that, Riddler.

Joe B said...

Craig, amen. Scott, darn straight. Gary, I'm not sure you're missing anything. Tagskie, go away you're a robot. Garry, it's not about who got there first. Both hypothetical categories you cite, if interested in suiting themselves, are both guilty. We should all love whatever glorifies God, whatever people give from their hearts.

Bottom line: Jesus is about crosses, not pleasing ourselves. If you don't like crosses, you don't like Jesus.

My taste? I don't like complex wordy songs that are hard to learn and sing. But I'll be nailed before you hear me griping about other peoples' heartfelt praises.

Scott said...

Craig, I'll agree that the words are, generally, much more important than the style of music. But I don't think that's ALWAYS the case. I'll admit I snicker a bit at songs that talk about dancing in fields of flowers and stuff, but at the same time, passionate emotion and "getting excited" is often a big part of how we praise and worship. "The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." Surely a charismatic man like yourself can appreciate when unintelligible shouts of praise might be called for. :-)

Garry, my thinking is mostly that churchy-folk often mistake "preference" for "morality" or "Biblical mandate." It happens with the political viewpoints of Christians ALL the time, for instance. And it happens with all sorts of things in the church. Music style is just the most noticeable. It's fine to have a preference, but it's not fine to state that your preference is God's preference when He in no way states so.

But the big problem is that it has become such a big issue in so many churches. And all of that goes back to the elevation of "the church service" over every other aspect of the church's life. We're Sunday-morning-centric, and it only follows that people will fight, gripe, and complain about what happens on Sunday mornings.

So where does the division come from? I think it comes from anyone that makes it a big deal worth fighting over. But it's hard to say that, because we've ALL made it a big deal.

Craig said...

OK, you caught me - as a charismatic Christian, I do understand what 'passionate emotion' is about, and how it can help point us to God. But, I can also tell you that, in order to sustain a long-term life together, you need to build your life (including your worship life) on something more solid, and less ephemeral, than people's emotions. God is worthy of our worship, even when we don't feel like it, even when we don't have a hot praise band to stir us up. . .

Not at all that 'Emotions Are Bad'; God made us with them, and He intends them for our good, and they have an important place in our lives. But they aren't ends in themselves, and they aren't 'trump cards' over against the Truth. Which is a real common mindset in the larger culture, and increasingly so in the Church. Emotions are good servants, but terrible masters. . .

In my previous comment, I actually had more in mind songs in the mold of, 'Jesus, you make me feel so good. . .' (I'm not trying to directly quote any particular song; if I do, it's purely accidental) Which is nice, but how Jesus makes you feel isn't really the point. Another, more subtle example, which is actually in our songbook (and thus 'passed muster'), includes the phrase, 'Sing with me, how great is our God. . .' (obviously, I AM quoting a particular song here) which, honestly, isn't really so terrible, but I find the ever-so-brief placing of 'me' in the spotlight to be annoying. . .

So, yeah - I'm not gonna jump up and down, and pitch a big fight over it (see above re 'disagreeing, even vehemently, while maintaining unity and love), but there are distinctions to be made, and things worth thinking about; not everything that stirs up my emotions is necessarily promoting worship. Which is really the point I was trying to make. . .

Garry said...

I'll jump back in the deep end and answer my own question with some of my first response: Joe, you are correct, it isn't about 'who is the interloper and who has roots.' or who is right and who is wrong. The answer to "who is the divider?" is "Who could it be? Who could it be, Maybe SATAN!" (nod to the Church Lady). All kidding asisde, satan is the author of all confusion and all conflict.
Scott, you make an excellent observation that there are many things which we hold to very tightly that we want to call 'doctrine' that are simply personal preference or social practice. These are the areas where division come in that can become the most bitter quarrels. That is where the Scribes & Pharisee's lost their way, tradition. Traditions have killed more Kingdom growth than rock & roll, playing cards and moving pictures put together. :-D
Worship style and music is most of the time just the highest lightning rod in the storm.
Respect for others is the key. Joe, like you I have my own 'favorite' styles of song and they can change from day to day. I admit, it sometimes more difficult for me to "... love whatever glorifies God, whatever people give from their hearts." because I can't see their hearts and, quite frankly, some of it is just too close to the edge for me. I'm trying.
If someone can tell me how to make everyone (I'd settle for a simple majority sometimes) in the corporate worship setting happy I'd probably pay handsomely for that information.
It all is going to boil down to this: What are we willing to do to better mature the believers we have while we are trying to attract the ones who are still in the dark?
Isn't that the real commision we have? ... preach(reach out), teach(mature) and baptize.

Moments Of Truth said...

Hi, my name is Mary...none of you know me- but, I just wanted to say. I like the post, and I agree with all of you on all of your perceptions of the post-lol.... kinda crazy huh lol. It makes you look at every aspect. :)

Scott said...

Glad to see you here, Mary. Feel free to jump in with any random opinions at any time!

Garry, I kind of feel as though "wanting to make everyone happy in the corporate worship setting" has very little to do with preaching-teaching-and-baptizing. That's exactly what the video is poking at. I don't feel as though that's part of the church's mission at all. Yes, we are to LOVE each other, above all... But I'm not sure it's really serving the church to be too worried about making everyone happy. (Although I realize it's a very human trait of ours!)

Plus, it's always going to be impossible to do, as I'm sure you see every week!

Moments Of Truth said...

I think we all need to realize that no matter what extremes are taken to "try" satisfying everyone- it will never work. There is always "SOMEONE" dis-satisfied with "something".I think they should take some of this valuable time spent on unnecessary materialistic satisfaction and spend it on something more proactive. Something that could help reach out and bring more souls into the church. I think i read through everything correctly, but if it's all about music. I think way to much time and money is being spent on this subject. Money like that can help families in need, Reaching out in other ways are are way more satisfying.

There are lots that love music. I personally love music, and the Worship service with music really helps me move into His presence... but at the same time, it is the word of god that does it the most.... and you can sometimes, actually most of the time feel the presence of God on the worship leaders and music, and definitely feel it when there's not there. We are getting so caught up in technical stuff, who has the best music, who can sing best, etc. There are some people who want to sing just to glorify Him, and some being pushed aside because they don't have money to back them up, or a certain name.... this is causing the focus to be taken off Christ. People are going to church to be seen, to hear so and so sing.... to hear the Choir.... it's not for the right reasons.... and because of all this- people get discouraged and quit. This has to stop, or the church will eventually fall apart.
i may not make any sense here, and I don't sound near assmart as you guys lol but it's a lot of the thoughts that come to me when reading this blog.

Garry said...

Me again. http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2010/spring/weassessspiritual.html

I am not completely sure that this really applies here but it is a good short read that deals with growing spiritually in the corporate setting (I think).
It really is a look at the leadership, which is where I wanted to point in some of my comments. We need our leaders and more mature (maybe) believers to quit looking at what we like/want and focus on whether we are growing people in faith. Making better disciples who are making new disciples is the 'real' measure of "How are you doing with that Great Commision thing?" A good measure is NOT 'how many' or 'how much.' We need to get past that. Proper elvaluation of "how well are we maturing believers?" will render the other questions moot because, I believe, growth in those areas will occur naturally when they are not the prime focus. The same, I believe, will be true of the 'style' issues. The focus will come off of the individual.
Yeah, I can worship a little better if what I am participating in is what falls under 'my style.'
I really can't think of a time where I was hindered from worship because the 'style' didn't suit me.
For me, it is personal condition over personal prefference.
If you really want to 'trip my trigger', let's have some more family and friend baptizings. Let' have more reaching out in the hallways to the discouraged and tired. Personal growth of believers is really the measure of a 'successful' ministry.

Moments Of Truth said...

See- garry... you are much smarter with words than me lol. I agree completely with what you posted. Kinda what I was trying to say.

Craig said...

Garry, you hit it right on the head. Making disciples is the whole point; if it isn't, then we are radically missing the point. . .

Joe B said...

word