Good Church People?
I am finding myself having more and more conversations with long-time friends who are literally heart-broken over changes in their churches regarding the music. More and more churches that have had a good reputation for godly music are now going off in directions that are perplexing many of the "good people" who have borne the weight of that ministry.
It seems that 'after the flesh' has lost it's meaning and the claim to Romans 7 is being common all to acceptable. The word "walk" has become the newest four letter dirty word amongst Bible Believers.
In the recent process of change, pastors have succeeded in greatly offending many of the faithful mainstream of workers, soul winners and teachers to the point that many of these people are considering or will soon consider changing churches, or just quit attending, because they cannot tolerate the new direction the music has taken.
Call this reaction prejudice, being old-fashioned, being narrow-minded, or having hyper-spiritual convictions, etc. it is time that someone considered the "good church people" who are being driven from the churches they love by people intent on making church music more 'acceptable to the lost world' or even just more 'enjoyable' for themselves.
Church music has been rapidly changing in the majority of the churches in America. A statement was made in that between 1993 and 1996, the percentage of churches using mostly traditional music with piano and organ declined from 49 to 37 percent. And during the past five years, more churches that use mostly contemporary music (69%) experience growth than did traditional churches (47%). Christianity Today
And now, if can you believe it - the 'King James-Only' churches are experiencing this same challenge regarding the music being allowed into their services. Remembering that most of the KJV people caught up in this rush toward new music are not worldly, "bad people", we still must ask...
"What is Causing This Sudden Change?"
First, there is a new generation of membership emerging in our KJV churches.
Many of today's generation do not associate rock-'n'-roll, country, etc. with rock concerts, bars, drugs, immortality, or lewdness. They learned the music from constant association in shopping malls, grocery stores, etc., as well as Christian radio, youth organizations, and even church. Once it was simple for preachers who did not know the technical aspects of music to denounce rock, country, etc. because of the associations of that musical style. To this rising generation, "associations" is a non-issue. It has been in their lives daily!
We of the older generation have done a poor job of instructing our people concerning the music as well as the message. We have done an even poorer job of demonstrating what good church music sounds like. The music they have rejected, while occasionally good in its content, was often poorly prepared, carelessly selected, and boringly presented.
Much of this new music in 'Bible Believing churches' still stands as mild if compared to groups like Stryper, etc. (shows my age, eh?). Christians who are seeking a niche in currently popular CCM are finding it more and more in the KJV church. It is conservative enough to be allowed by concerned Christian parents and many Christian colleges, yet markedly different from previously acceptable church music.
While much "tamer" than other popular CCM styles, there are still very real problems associated with this music, not the least of which is the negative reaction of many good Christian people, which is the concern being expressed in this article.
Music is a very divisive issue.
You can discuss peoples dress styles, their eating habits, their jobs, raising of children, etc. and compare scripture with scripture; but when you start to talk about music, the discussion is closed. Friendships are over. The "line has been drawn". You are now labeled as divisive.
Because of pressure of so many people, the pastor may make allowances in the church music that are very disconcerting to many church members. It has been my observation and my experience that those who promote what we could call 'worldly" music for church are very vocal in their views, while those who see it as wrong often suffer in silence. Many times, because of their loyalty to the local church and to their pastor, they will merely draw back to a less public position in the church. Of course, in this process, many drop out completely, some change churches, but most decline in their usefulness within their church.
The net result is that their vacant leadership roles are then filled with people whose deepest spiritual thought comes from the latest tape or singing family.
Most people say that the church must be relevant and need-centered to be acceptable to today's generation.
Churches are examining their programs to accommodate this new wave of "my need and of my family". "Make them feel comfortable" is the cry. "Meet them where they live." "We all must learn to like this music".
The fact is that there are many things with which sinners are very "comfortable' that have no place in the church of God. Why do the lower standards of the home have to be the standards of the church? Does "making them feel comfortable" include serving a beer at church suppers - drinking pop and water during the service - dressing for their next sports activity, etc.? Does "meeting them where they live" include allowing off-color stories to be told at men's fellowship? Of course those appear ridiculous - but how far will we go? Where do we draw the line? We all draw it somewhere. Are we drawing them these days with pencil so they can be erased over and over?
If making a sinner "comfortable" in our services includes friendliness, kindness and genuineness, fine! If it involves eliminating everything that would be in contrast to a lifestyle lived in rebellion against God, NO!
In some churches, the visiting "sinners" feel more comfortable with the music than do sincere, mature Christians. Must we offend saints to reach sinners? Even though the saints are not to be offended, do we put forth the world in the church to attract the lost - and lose our children to the 'visitors' standards? Are we willing to displease God by allowing a little sensuality in order to please man? Once we embark on a path to accommodate man's sinfulness, that path must lead us away from a holy God.
It seems that CCM has actually been promoted to please Christians, not sinners.
In the late sixties, the reasoning was that rock-'n'-roll would reach the lost. "Speak to the world in their language:" was the cry. Every major music publishing company was cranking out Christian rock musicals to reach the lost "rock generation."
History has shown that the "rock generation" did not learn very much about Christ, but the Christians certainly learned a lot about rock-'n'-roll. A thirst for the forbidden was created which is only now being quenched by sensuality in our churches today. No Christians can drink their fill without fear of condemnation. Rock-'n'-roll has left the closet for the sanctuary disguised in many "acceptable" styles and the doctrinally solid 'safe sound' is being forced into the closet!
So while many Christians are now marching to the beat (literally) of a different drummer, others who never bought the arguments of the worlds earlier years are being overwhelmed with music for which they have no taste and with which they are most uncomfortable and have scripture to back-up their position.
Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles,
nor to the church of God
I Corinthians 10:32
Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend,
I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend
I Corinthians 8:13
Even if the reader here does not accept these arguments concerning the dangers taking place with this music, I hope he will realize the danger of people exercising their liberty at the expense of others. The people who are being offended, the average Bible Believing church can not afford to lose.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty;
only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.