I’ve been talking a lot about revival and churches lately, but I feel like these posts are timely and perhaps a little necessary. I won’t fool myself into thinking that these posts will make much of a difference, but I know that God has called me to write them nonetheless in hopes that eventually, they do make a difference whether it be in an entire church, in a group, or in just one person. I hope that these posts convict you, perhaps offend you a little, and inspire you to live better. To do better. To pray better. To live for God. I assure you, that when I write these posts, they convict me. All of the stuff I say about praying more, witnessing more, being stronger…know that I’m not just writing them down and forgetting about the words. I’m writing these kinds of posts because I relate to them and I feel that, at least in my life, these types of posts are relevant and needed. Recently, I’ve listened to a few sermons from local churches and even visited a couple, not to switch churches or anything of the like, but just to experience things. I belong to a conservative Baptist church, and while there are certainly imperfections like any church, we are, in my opinion, a pretty good church. I love my Pastor, I love my church family. My Pastor preaches from the Bible, and doesn’t water it down. I am very, very blessed, and I know that churches like my own are not exactly common nowadays. It’s not every day that you find a good, Bible believing church. In these churches that I visited (and please keep in mind, I’m not being hypocritical, or saying you have to believe as I do, and worship exactly as I do. I assure you that I will explain my views thoroughly and as always I welcome other opinions.) I have seen loud music, flashing lights, intricate dances, exciting activities…really, a whole lot for us to enjoy. I’m seeing things made to draw people into the church, which isn’t a bad thing to try to do, but it seems that these things draw in more sinners rather than saints. I’m seeing things meant for our own enjoyment, to please our own flesh, to get us excited…and I am seeing absolutely nothing for God. Now, before you get upset with me – I am not saying that you have to listen to hymns in order to truly worship God. I am not saying that all new Christian music is bad or sinful. I’m not saying that you can’t get excited about God and raise your hands and dance in joy for Him. But here’s the deal..I want you to really think about the way most church services are. Think about the activities. Think about those flashing lights. Think about those worship services where people sing and dance and the instruments are so loud you can hardly hear your own thoughts. And ask yourself this…is this for God, or for me? Is God enjoying this? Better yet, ask yourself, if Jesus were here, would He want to stay? Would He enjoy those drums and guitars and just the overall…loudness? Would He appreciate it?
This post may offend some people, because I know a lot of people enjoy secular services. But that’s my point. In church, we are called to worship. And worship, although we should enjoy it because we are giving glory to God, is not meant for us. It is meant for Him. When we are so focused on our own entertainment and emotions we are losing sight of Him. When we worship, it should be all about Him. Not about impressing everyone with your incredible worship group, not about drawing the world into the church by using things they like -secular rock styled music, dancing, a “home” like setting. Church is not for sinners, it is for God and His people. Despite popular opinion, the Bible is actually very clear on what church is for. Who church is for. The church is the body of Christ, His people. And certainly, we should encourage lost sinners to come visit church and listen to sermons! But if a sinner comes to Christ because of a service, we should make sure they come to know Christ truly, that they begin learning who He is immediately. We don’t need to be drawing sinners into an ear tickling church because then they will be carnal minded Christians, or have a false conversion.
For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body,so also is Christ.
When the Bible says we are one body, it means that we are all part of the family of God. We are the church of Christ. So our churches in this world, our little buildings full of people, we should reflect God’s church of Christians around the world.
As I normally do, I’m going to draw in an old Pastor to this post. A.W Tozer, one of my favorites as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now. Part of the “theme” of this blog is using these old Pastor’s and missionaries and amazing men and women of God to inspire posts, because they should be inspiring us. Let’s look at what Tozer had to say on this topic,
I’m going to tell you one of the most important things to have in a church. Something that most of our churches is starving for. That is a knowledge of His holiness. We have very little respect for God. We are no longer reverent, and it seems to me that we forget how holy He is. We are dumbing down God in order to fit our desires for entertainment. We can hardly imagine sitting and praying in quiet for over five minutes, we can hardly imagine singing to Him songs that aren’t meant to stir US up, but please HIM. We can’t imagine bowing down to Him and thanking Him unless we are thinking about ourselves. We can not see His holiness because we have buried it under entertainment. We are so busy with planning activities for the congregation that have little to nothing to do with God (trips to movies that are not at all Godly, going to a bowling alley, going to sports games…) that we forget the reason we have church. To fellowship with the other believers in a Godly and reverent manner, and to honor Him. To worship Him. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing sinful about going to ball games or going out to eat with a fellow Christian. In fact, you should do that. Fellowship outside of church! Make friends! Do things! But these fun activities are taking too much of our time. When was the last time you went out preaching with your church friends? When was the last time you and your church went out and witnessed? Spread the Gospel? We are so focused on our own flesh that we are completely forgetting God and the things He called us to do. Nowhere in the Bible does He call us to entertain ourselves and go have fun…He tells us to worship Him, to respect Him, to honor Him. And that is certainly not what most churches are doing now.
The Bible tells us to make joyful noise to Him, to sing. But think about what and how we are singing. Why do you think we started using guitars and drums and the flashy lights? Do you honestly think that we started doing that because we thought God prefers rock music? No. We did it to start pleasing us. Because we got bored. We got tired of being labeled as old fashioned. We wanted to please ourselves and enjoy the music more. We are called to be entirely focused on Him, not ourselves.
Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
First, let’s remember how this whole “making worship music secular” thing started in churches. Where did it begin? It began in “seeker friendly” churches. Ear tickling churches. My first question is, do we really want to follow their example? Below is a quote from Ministry Today Magazine.
The seeker crowd will argue that unsaved people love hearing secular songs in church. When they hear a pop song they know, they’ll think, Wow, church isn’t boring after all. I think I’ll come back! For these Christians, getting the unsaved into church trumps everything. I appreciate and applaud their dedication to reaching the lost. However, using the same do-whatever-it-takes-to-get-them-in-the-door logic, why not install stripper poles next to our drum sets—wouldn’t that attract a crowd?
Now, your church may not use actual pop songs from secular artists, but really, what is the difference between most Christian music on the radio and pop songs? We may slide Jesus’ name in there, but most of the time, it’s bordering on blasphemy. Once again, I will say that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with some secular music. It’s a matter of my taste and opinions when it comes down to most of it, so don’t think I’m telling you to stop listening to your radio. In fact, I like a lot of Third Day’s songs, I like some Casting Crowns. Not a lot, because of my own taste, but I don’t think new songs are evil just because they are new and a bit…peppier than hymns. But songs that mimic the world’s music so strongly do not belong in church.
All of this entertainment is distracting us from the real point of church – God. Worshiping Him, putting ourselves and our own emotions aside for these moments. Remember what church was like before Jesus’ death. It was so holy that only certain people could darken the doors of the temple. He was so holy that we had to use sacrifices before even speaking to Him…guys…He is still the same God that He was in the Old Testament, the only difference is Jesus, sweet Jesus, died for us and became that sacrifice so that we could have a relationship with God. But that did not make Him any less holy. He is the Great I Am, the beginning and the end, our great intercessor…and He deserves every ounce of reverence and adoration that we can possibly muster up.
So…and this may offend you…stop focusing on yourself and pleasing yourself for a few hours and focus on God.
When 99% of the service is music and entertainment…there is no room for good Gospel preaching. There is no room for Christ. There is no room for holiness, because we’re so amped up we can’t possibly sit still long enough to pray and admire His holiness.
I will end with a few more words and this verse,
Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
Christians…the church is Holy Ground. It is His home. His. When we go to church, we are in His presence. We are approaching His throne, our Savior’s throne. So do so respectfully. If you were to be invited to a King’s throne, would you dress immodestly, would you dance up the aisle while blasting rock music? Or would you humbly approach that King in a respectful, quiet manner, and bow in adoration? He is our King. So let us begin to humble ourselves and learn how to approach Him.
“Almost every Bible conference majors on today’s Church being like the Ephesian Church. We are told that, despite our sin and carnality, we are seated with Him. Alas, what a lie! We are Ephesians all right; but, as the Ephesian Church in the Revelation, we have ‘‘left our first love!’’ We appease sin—but do not oppose it. To such a cold, carnal, critical, care-cowed Church, this lax, loose, lustful, licentious age will never capitulate. Let us stop looking for scapegoats. The fault in declining morality is not radio or television. The whole blame for the present international degeneration and corruption lies at the door of the Church!”
― Leonard Ravenhill,