A Warning for ALL Evangelical Churches

January 24, 2018 at 8:02 AM 10 comments

Is it ENTERTAINMENT or WORSHIP?

I can say this from my own experience. Every church we ever attended and eventually left, we did so for one reason: the church atmosphere slid away from true biblical values toward the emotional, feel-good end of things. It ends up where people are taught by osmosis and direction that the best way to “experience” God is through our emotions. Because of this, congregants come to rely on their sense of subjectivity that their emotions conjure up, in determining how God is speaking to them, how He is directing them, what He wants from them and how He wants them to live. In short, people come to rely on their emotions instead of God’s Word and because of this growing reliance on their emotions, God’s Word is slowly, quietly, and consistently pushed off to the side.

I grew up attending church. I also grew up playing musical instruments. I started off learning trumpet and piano and then embraced drums as well. As I got older, piano and trumpet eventually took a back seat and that was mainly due to the fact that we did not have a piano so I couldn’t practice routinely. I eventually got out of high school and stopped playing trumpet. I continued playing drums because in the 1970’s, the music was good. Most of it – though rock and roll – was music that was pleasant to the ear and had meaningful lyrics, often about boy meeting girl, falling in love, etc.

Of course, over time, something called “hard rock” and then “metal” came to be. Music always changes and often becomes more repugnant. Today, music is all finalized using ProTools, a software program that can take any voice through the computer and adjust it automatically so that all flats or sharps from the singer are digitally placed in tune. Same with the instruments. There is also plenty of overdubbing in today’s music. Unlike what was called “the wall of sound” from the Wrecking Crew in the 1960’s where there were literally multiples of the same instrument playing different tracks, today’s music is simply digitally overdubbed and perfected.

Today’s music is really an engineer’s game. More often than not, most groups who tour today often have canned music and audio tracks playing with their live sound. You don’t really want to hear them without it because the groups that were hits when I was a younger person and are still touring are pushing their 70s now. They’re really old and should have stopped a while ago, but money beckons and it’s all they know. If they don’t tour, they don’t make money. It is interesting how it has all evolved.

The same type of “progress” can be seen in musical stylings in churches of today. When I was growing up, the hymns were hymns, sung out of a hymnal. After college, the music in churches took a slightly new approach. It all started with those neat little choruses. I recall even playing drums in several churches that utilized these choruses. It was fun, didn’t take a great deal of work, the songs themselves followed the instinctual route of good, normal music. In other words, there was a musical symmetry to these choruses as simple as they were.

Of course, nothing stays the same. I began noticing that in place of these simple choruses (often based directly on the Psalms or other portions of Scripture), the songs started meandering and began sounding more like Bob Dylan tunes. They told stories. To me, they started sounded annoying because they were going against type, with discordant notes and tunes. Instead of adding to the worship, it seemed like they were attracting more of the attention.

Eventually, worship songs have become these heavily convoluted, wandering songs filled with high-strung guitar riffs and loud, obnoxious volumes, all set on a firm foundation of bombastic drumming. If you take away the lyrics of many of today’s so-called worship songs, they could easily be mistaken for what passes as secular music. There’s nothing uplifting about it, in my view. It seems like music has taken center stage, overriding the actual worship experience. But to most, it doesn’t seem to matter because people appeared to be really getting into things. They’re enjoying it. It makes them feel good. But this is the actual problem.

Every church we have ever attended in which we eventually left was due not necessarily to the music itself (as obnoxious as much of it is today), but to the direction this music pulled the church. It has led me to believe that the more the music is given free rein and center stage, the greater the chances that it will derail what God considers holy.

Today, churches are filled with people who shed tears while they are singing. They sway, clap their hands, raise their arms, and emote in a variety of ways – all because of the music. I have to wonder why?

I love good music as much as the next person. But when music itself can bring us to tears, I believe there is something off kilter. These same people who cry because of the music (or words), and the worship “experience,” do not necessarily cry when they read God’s Word. They don’t cry out of joy or sorrow. They read the Bible (if and when they do), and they see words, but often the words do not impact them in any real sustainable way. They aren’t moved by the bare facts of Scripture related to God, His tremendous love for us as well as His ultimate sacrifice that we might have salvation.

Yet, on Sunday mornings, with the guitar screaming loud, long high riffs, the drums banging away and the singers all staring at the ceiling with arms raised, somehow this is enough to bring grown men and women to tears. I frankly don’t get it. I mean, I do and I don’t.

I realize that what’s happening is that these people are simply responding emotionally to sounds but it doesn’t go any deeper than that. There is no real change in their lives. They react emotionally to a stimulus that is very fleeting. I want no part of that because it draws people away from God, not closer to Him. Do these same folks shed tears of joy over some of the classic hymns that reveal Scriptural truth?Instead, they become fully enamored with the way they feel about something and they assume their feeling is connected to God. It’s not. It’s connected to themselves. They are actually reveling in how they feel.

These churches that go down that path all end up moving toward some form of Charismatic renewal. It might not be overt at all and I’m not even talking about full-on tongues here. The very fact that people are caught up in a wave of emotion because of the impetus of music is very telling. The push toward reliance upon our emotions is often the first step toward a move away from God.

My wife and I watch Call the Midwife and it’s often very moving. Part of the reason has to do with the hard realities of life during the 1960’s in England when midwifery was still the normal way women had children. Life was very hard for most. The other reason has to do with the scripts, which are often very well written, though I’ll notice at times a political statement inserted here and there that would definitely not have been part of that decade. The other reason is due to the power of the actors in the show. Everyone is so realistic that you tend to forget you’re watching people act. However, another reason that is almost always forgotten is due to the musical background peppered throughout each episode.

Without those musical interludes here and there to help tug at your heartstrings or to signal how you should feel about something, it would be like watching real life between several people. We don’t go through life with musical tracks in the background emphasizing certain events in our life. When we do something fun, there is no musical background attached to it. When something sad happens, a quartet of strings does not automatically appear to help you get in the mood or support you in that mood.

Music has tremendous power to turn people in one direction or another. When my wife and I traveled to Europe a few years ago, we went to a symphony concert in Vienna. It was beautiful music. I recall on the plane flight home, I listened to one symphonic concert several times because the music was simply beautiful.

The hymns of old were designed to lift our voices and our attention to God. They were not meant to distract us away from God. They were meant to undergird our worship as we directed our attention to the only God worthy of our love and expression of worship. The hymns are a reminder of what we believe and in essence, we are stating these truths in musical fashion to our God. That is worship.

Much of the music of today that is routinely used in churches is absolute garbage in my opinion. If offers nothing except an opportunity to focus on yourself. You can actually watch (and “feel”) yourself as you sing some of these songs of today. It is very easy to get caught up in the emotional pull of the music rather than on God Himself.

Our church is just beginning a new study on Wednesday nights called, Behold Your God. It asks some very tough questions and as my wife and I were working on our homework, one of things it asks us is about our relationship with God. One question is this: Do you think that Jesus is the most precious thing about Christianity, or do you find that the idea of what He can do for you is more enticing than who He is?

As my wife and I considered that question, we thought of what it will be like when we see Him face to face. I think when I see Him face to face, it will be enough to bask in His Presence. To absorb Him. To drink Him in. That will be worshiping Him, just as Mary sat at His feet to absorb every word Jesus spoke. Imagine that.

Music does not do this. Emotion does not do this. Certainly our emotions can react to His Presence, but in truth, Jesus is enough. There is nothing more. The Bible says “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence…” 2 Peter 1:3 ESV.

If you see that your church is starting to slide in modern music, reducing the number of hymns, be wary. It often starts like that and pretty soon, the hymns are shunted off to the side and the modern music is given the spotlight. Older folks are encouraged to “come along with the Spirit” so that more young people will come to church.

Over time, the pastor will stop wearing suits and a tie. The pulpit may be pushed off to the side. Sermons that might have at one time been expository are now broadly topical. In short, everything is dumbed down so as not to offend.

If you see this happening in your church, be prepared to find another church. You might try to take your concerns to the pastoral staff only to have them try to urge you to come along with the program or it may come to a point where they simply tell you that this is the direction and if you don’t approve, maybe you should look elsewhere. When that happens, you will know that Cultural Marxism has fully invaded your church. Best look for another one.

One day, authentic Christians will worship Him in absolute truth without the limitations of our sin nature. When we do, it won’t be because the music is sweet. It will be because Jesus Himself is beautiful, wonderful, loving, accepting, full of forgiveness and God Almighty. What a privilege to know the God of the universe.

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, devil worship, Eastern Mysticism, emergent church, Emotional virtue, eternity, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, Satanism, second coming, Shadow Government. Tags: , , , , .

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10 Comments

  • 1. NWRambler (@iamgregk)  |  February 19, 2018 at 10:01 AM

    On the other hand, I left a church organization that was heavy on the hymns and their organs but all sermons were topical with a sprinkling of bible verses, usually out of context, as well as quotes from an author they believe brought them “new light”.

    • 2. modres  |  February 19, 2018 at 10:17 AM

      Yes, but isn’t that one part of a cult? There’s more going in there than music or are you referring to a mainstream denomination, Greg?

      • 3. NWRambler (@iamgregk)  |  February 20, 2018 at 12:40 AM

        Yes, you or I would call them a cult. They vehemently deny it of course.

      • 4. modres  |  February 20, 2018 at 4:27 AM

        Very glad you’re out!

  • 5. Deight  |  January 28, 2018 at 3:32 PM

    Generally, I agree. However, as a pastor for over 50 Years, now a staff pastor, I do think there is a workable, Christ honoring path. If the music is not given to self edifying, points genuinely to Christ & the music is balanced to not overplay the emotional bent, there is a balance. The church where I attend & serve has really worked at bringing hymns & choruses to blend into a wonderful worship experience. The blog seems quite critical. We need to be careful here.

    • 6. modres  |  January 28, 2018 at 4:21 PM

      Thanks very much for your comments. They are much appreciated. If you have found a way to do what you’ve outlined, that is wonderful. Unfortunately this has not been my experience. I’ve seen how too many times it starts as you’ve described and ends up with music overriding everything else.

      I apologize if I came across in a critical fashion but the time of this article was deliberate to mirror the title. I truly believe too many assemblies go down the wrong path because they do not do as you’ve done in your assembly.

      I could list all the assemblies that are now leaning heavily toward heretical teachings because of the over emphasis on the way music makes people FEEL.

      Once they begin to rely on feelings, it’s not long before they begin interpreting God’s Word with those feelings.

      Thank you for your comments. I DO appreciate them and it is wonderful to hear that you can attest to the fact that this problem is something you’ve managed to avoid. It appears that way because you seem to have continued to include hymns in your worship.

  • 7. rutnerh  |  January 27, 2018 at 9:09 PM

    I agree, many modern churches are little more than social clubs focusing on loud brassy music with shallow lyrics.
    Herewith my two favorites, both oldies, seldom found in modern hymnals. The first a personal prayer hymn, the second a missionary hymn intended to rescue the eternally lost souls of the perishing multitudes from a literal fiery hades and ultimately the Lake of Fire, by default or choice.

    1. What a friend we have in Jesus,
    All our sins and griefs to bear!
    What a privilege to carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
    Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
    Oh, what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
    Have we trials and temptations?
    Is there trouble anywhere?
    We should never be discouraged—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Can we find a friend so faithful,
    Who will all our sorrows share?
    Jesus knows our every weakness;
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Are we weak and heavy-laden,
    Cumbered with a load of care?
    Precious Savior, still our refuge—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
    Take it to the Lord in prayer!
    In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
    Thou wilt find a solace there.
    Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
    Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
    May we ever, Lord, be bringing
    All to Thee in earnest prayer.
    Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
    There will be no need for prayer—
    Rapture, praise, and endless worship
    Will be our sweet portion there.

    2. Fanny Crosby hymn:
    Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
    Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
    Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
    Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.
    Refrain:
    Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
    Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.
    Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting,
    Waiting the penitent child to receive;
    Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently;
    He will forgive if they only believe.
    Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
    Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
    Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
    Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
    Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;
    Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
    Back to the narrow way patiently win them;
    Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.

    • 8. modres  |  January 28, 2018 at 12:39 PM

      Thanks very much for this 🙂

  • 9. Glenn E. Chatfield  |  January 24, 2018 at 11:44 AM

    Excellent examination of what is happening with music in the church today. It is really a sad, sad situation.

    • 10. modres  |  January 24, 2018 at 11:51 AM

      Thank you, Glenn. I will run the other way if/when I see it happening in any church we attend. I know where it is heading.


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