Instrumental Music: An Email re “Upgrading a Worship Service Without Buying a Guitar”

angelharp1.jpgOne of the most popular posts on this blog is “Upgrading a Worship Service Without Buying a Guitar.” I received the following email earlier today about that post, and I thought I might reply to it here, so that others with similar concerns could see both sides of the issue.

Let me add this: if you are unhappy with something I’ve written, I’d really prefer that you post it as a public comment. I know that good people generally prefer to make their criticisms privately — and I appreciate that spirit — but this is a discussion blog. If no one disagrees with me publicly, well, it just doesn’t work.

And I’ve been at this for a while. I can take it. In fact, I’ve developed kind of a taste for it — because disagreement is a chance to either learn or teach or both. It’s all good.

I get emails —

Your proposals are strongly predicated on making the worship­-particularly the music-­appealing to young people.  For example:

—-You state that most unchurched people and most young people do not like much enforced quiet­-especially not every week.  (The worship service has always been a good place to learn!  This is a normal part of growing up and learning to behave.)

—-You mention that many of our children have never heard acappella singing except at church; so we therefore need to get out of our rut and be a little artistic to sound halfway decent to their ears.  (While they’re still teachable, let’s add beautiful congregational singing to the repertoire of music in their lives, just as church members have been doing for twenty centuries.)

—-You said that we live in a world where college students, young married, and most of the lost think of music as being a concert rather than congregational singing.  (Why would that influence anything having to do with the church?)

—-You say that it’s wrong to deny people the joy of expressing themselves by clapping, and that modern worshipers are just used to having a rhythm section on upbeat tunes.   (It’s hard to believe you would defend such an open-ended principle.)

—-You were particularly forceful in saying Stamps-Baxter (which started to be introduced into our song books in the 40s after arriving on the country music scene in the 30s) has to go.  You stated that many young people consider it so bad as to be hilarious.  You said you’d seen visiting college students struggle to avoid laughing out loud at it.  (If college students laugh at it, it needs to be eliminated?  Wow.  I’m not politicking for Stamps-Baxter; it’s just that your rationale is terribly hollow.)

I think it’s critically important that the older members set an example of Christ-like service.

(John 13:14-16)  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

I’m 55 and I’ve paid my dues. I’m an elder. And I figure that I’ve earned nothing. My role is to set an example of service by washing the feet of others — especially those considered the least worthy. To be like Jesus is to serve “the least of these.”

None of the above is a scriptural reason for determining what is or isn’t done in the worship. Our worship is not to please us, or make us feel uplifted.  Nor is it to be patterned in a way to please the unchurched, nor people who are uncomfortable being silent, nor children, nor young people, nor college students, nor young marrieds.  And your taking the position that it’s wrong to deny people the joy of expressing themselves in the way they choose during the worship is utterly astonishing.

I agree that the scriptures are the sole test of what to do in worship. But I observe that we act as though the preferences of the older members and big donors are what make that determination. I mean, the worship wars are largely over musical style — not instrumentation or such. We often doctrinalize our tastes, but most of the fights are about taste. People get upset when the song leader picks contemporary songs, not because they are unscriptural, but because they don’t suit the preferences of the person complaining.

Regarding joy,

(Rom 14:17-18)  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

Helping the members express joy in worship to God is scriptural at the deepest levels.

God commanded that our worship be pleasing to him, and to him alone.

I don’t have to quote the examples in the OT and the NT where God punished those who altered their worship to fit their own preferences instead of his commands.  I’m sure you’re as well acquainted with them as I am.

Uh, no. God made no such command. It’s just not there. Consider,

(1 Cor 14:2-3)  For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. 3 But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.

When Paul was confronted with the question of whether to allow tongues and prophecy in the assembly, Paul didn’t respond by saying they aren’t among the five and only five authorized acts of worship. Paul asked whether they edify, strengthen, encourage, or comfort the people present. I figure Paul knew what he was talking about.

Then, we also read,

(Heb 10:24-25)  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews quite plainly teaches that the assembly is about encouraging one another toward love and good works. We are to encourage others. And if I can encourage my younger brothers and sisters by singing a contemporary tune, I’ll sing a contemporary tune. After all, the verb is active, not passive. I go to encourage, not to be encouraged.

Regarding the unchurched, Paul writes,

(1 Cor 14:24-25)  But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25 and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

The assembly should lead unbelievers to exclaim, “God is really among you!” and so worship God. Stamps-Baxter won’t do that in most towns. Bad music of any kind won’t do that.

Now, notice that I’m not saying the worship should suit my own preferences. Quite the contrary. I should give up my preferences for the sake of others — and I do. Our song leader has no idea what kind of music I like. I don’t tell him because my job is to serve others, not to be served.

While advocating changes to please young people, you’ve taken a really cheap shot at the older members with your cynical “nostalgia Sunday (once a year, maybe)” dissertation.  It reminds me of the dialog of a couple of very loose young women at my office who were making crude jokes and snickering about how hilariously corny the private life (not the term they used, of course)  must be of a couple who had been faithful to each other through fifty years of marriage.  Your idea seems to be that you could condescend to the older members’ tastes once a year and then not have to mess up other services by catering to them any other time.  That paragraph really, really, really doesn’t speak well for you.

You have to realize that I’m one of the older members. I grew up on Stamps-Baxter. I’ve been to the Diana singing many times. I was raised on fa-sol-la shaped notes. I’d love to have an annual old-fashioned singing. But I wouldn’t presume to impose my nostalgia on others more often than that. And I’ve not pushed for even this.

Once again, the role of congregational leaders is to wash the feet of the saints. We are to be humble servants. And, yes, while I still enjoy the music I grew up with, I know quite well that insisting on the music of my childhood would be to insist that others serve me. If someone has to sing music they dislike, it has to be me.

Do you recall what God’s NT commands are about interaction between young members and older members?

I think so. Is this what you have in mind?

(Titus 2:2-5)  Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. 3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

As an older man, how can I be worthy of respect if I fail to be a servant like Jesus? How can my wife teach younger women to be reverent if she insists on being catered to — rather than washing the saints’ feet? Isn’t “what is good” living like Jesus?

If you believe that the church’s worship service should be revamped and restyled to please the younger generation now, then what about the next generation after them, and all the succeeding generations?  What is there about this younger generation that warrants pleasing them-­rather  than God­-that was not present in the Roaring Twenties generation?  They didn’t demand that we inject the sounds of the Charleston into our song service.  Nor jazz in the 30s, nor swing in the 40s, nor surfing music in the 50s.

Actually, the hymns we have are in the styles of the times when they were written. It’s just that musical styles changed very rapidly in the 20th Century. Stamps-Baxter music, for example, is gospel quartet music from the 1930s and 40s — in the South — where quartets often traveled from church to church to entertain and even sang on the radio. They still do around here. I drove by a church the other day that advertised a concert by a gospel quartet (it was a church of about 25 members). That’s right: Stamps-Baxter music was Southern entertainment in its day.

What I want the young people today to do is submit to those younger than they are when they reach my age. I want them to follow my example. I don’t want them to follow the example of many older church members, who insist on having their way with musical styles and use their influence and money to get their way. That’s sin. Rather, I hope they see me submit my tastes for the sake of those less mature and follow my example.

I have four children. When they were quite young, I sang to them at bedtime. And I sang the songs they liked. That’s what parents do. That’s what the mature do for the less mature.

Now, I also shared with them the music I like, but I never forced it on them. You can’t command taste from on high. I exposed them to what I enjoy, and they largely have seen the wisdom of my musical tastes. But half or more of musical collection is from my kids — who are much older now — and who share with me their favorite music. And they have pretty good taste. There’s a great joy and beauty in sharing and submitting.

The young people today have more opportunities to hear the fad music they like when they’re not inside a church building than any generation in all of the history of mankind.  And you want to make the worship service into another medium to please them with what they like to hear!

Why?  To attract larger attendance?  If the gospel is palatable to people only when the music in the worship service is altered to what makes them feel good, what value are they to the church?

The gospel is only palatable to people when those preaching the gospel live the gospel.

(Phil 2:1-7)  If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

To live the gospel is to follow the example of Jesus by refusing to be selfish — even a little — by considering others better than yourself, to look after the interests of others, and to give up power, influence, and control in order to be a servant. Do that, and people will flock to hear the gospel.

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30 Responses

  1. On this subject I quote Hank Hill to the youth pastor: “You’re not making rock better. You’re making Christianity worse.”

    At the end of the episode Hank takes out a box of all the stuff that Bobby used to think was cool and that he eventually discarded when the fad went out, including a Ninja Turtles costume and a digital pet. And he says “I just want to make sure the Lord doesn’t end up in this box.” Profound. The Lord’s gonna end up in that box along with Santa Clause for some, because they’re grounded in “evangelical” fads not the Lord.

  2. “There’s a great joy and beauty in sharing and submitting.”

    That’s kind of an ironic statement, isn’t it? Being that it comes from one guy trying to change an entire denomination. Islam! Islam! Submit to the will of Jay (not Leno).

  3. Kind of a jerky response Rey. I think Jay had a solid response to the e-mail’s main points and did so in a Christian fashion. I haven’t ever felt pressured to submit to the will of Jay, but Jay has often brought me to submit to the truth of Scripture.

  4. Jay, you wrote the following statements:

    “What I want the young people today to do is submit to those younger than they are when they reach my age.”

    “Rather, I hope they see me submit my tastes for the sake of those less mature and follow my example.”

    — I am not sure I agree. Especially, in the church. I do not think that the wisest decision is for the most mature Christians to gather from and then submit to the youngest and least mature of Christians. Seems like it should be the other way around. I mean, you write:

    “What I want the young people today to do is submit to those younger than they are when they reach my age.”

    Think about the implications of such an idea… You would then have the young, new, and least mature Christians being submited to until they themselves mature. At which point (once they are experienced and mature), they should no longer be submitted to, but that they should then themselves start submitting to the newest generation of young and least mature diciples. How is that not backwards?! Why would we ever think that the tastes and opinions of the young and least mature are what is best for the rest of the church to submit to? With all due respect, I believe that the elders of the church should do moreteaching and instructing than they do asking and submiting.

    Lastly, you wrote:

    “To live the gospel is to follow the example of Jesus by refusing to be selfish — even a little — by considering others better than yourself, to look after the interests of others, and to give up power, influence, and control in order to be a servant.”

    Jesus was indeed a servent (as should be the elders today), but he NEVER gave up “power, influence, and control” in order to be such. Neither did he ever seek to submit his tastes to those of his newest and youngest disciples. Did he?

  5. Rey, you make a lot of good points. However, I believe you were slightly unfair in implying that Jay’s desire is for men to submit to his will. And I didn’t really get the “Islam” thing.

    Jay, at least deserves credit for treating those with whom he disagrees in a fair and respectful manner.

    Having said that, I understand your frustration with much of what is written here. Just remember, we don’t HAVE to read it.

    Good day brother.

  6. Rey and Hank,

    Both of you write almost as if the music style – other than the limitations of “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs – is mandated by Scripture. Someone said that a man worships best in his native language. The native musical language of the young today is not Stamps-Baxter (though I love to sing it!). In fact, the contemporary music that I hear is probably more Biblical than many of the songs I grew up with in the 40’s & 50’s.

    Most congregations I know throw a “sop” to the younger group while trying to retrain their ears to appreciate the good old hymns we love.

    Some of the old hymns are so good they are still among the most popular. I believe Amazing Grace is still American’s favorite hymn, isn’t it? And when was it written? John Newton wrote the words in 1779; the tune we use with this song first appeared in 1829, and the popular arrangement we sing comes from 1910.

    But the us-them attitude has to go! The older people can set the example (after all, they should be more mature but I’ve seen a lot of them who are spiritually immature as can be!). How can you expect younger people to submit if they never see an example of submission in their elders?

    Even as Paul gave instruction to fathers in Eph. 6:4, he began by saying, “do not exasperate them” (“provoke not your children to wrath,” KJV). Would it exasperate you for all of the music of the church to be in Gregorian Chants? If so, then please spare some thought for those who may be a couple of decades or more younger than you!

    By the way, the purpose of the assembly is not “to please God” by the correct performance of the rituals. The Biblically stated purpose of the assembly is to encourage and exhort one another (Hebrews 10:24-25), to join the angels in festive & joyous assembly (Hebrews 12:22ff), and to edify the body of Christ (1 Cor 14, passim) as we remember Him and encourage one another. No where does the Bible say that we are the actors and God is the audience, as I have heard so many say. I blogged on this at here where I closed by saying:

    The assembly is not a performance with God as the audience. It is interaction with God and with one another in a way that will glorify God and build one another up. That way, our lives will reflect the glory of God as we go into the world to serve, living the life of Jesus, shining as stars in the darkness of this world

  7. I’ve been leading worship in churches of Christ for nearly 45 years — so I guess that demonstrates my age.

    My point of view is that worship should encourage, edify and draw the congregation towards God. But worship is not FOR God, it is FOR us. God does not need our worship, but we need to worship God.

    So, when preparing worship, the problem I’m faced is how to do something helpful to everyone there. I appreciate Jay’s willingness to subjugate his preferences, but not all older folks are so willing.

    At one congregation where I worshipped, we took a survey about music preferences. To no one’s surprise, the responses were all over the place, and often even contradictory.

    So, as a group, the worship team told the congregation, we’d try to plan worship times that would touch at least 60% of the congregation — and we’d try to reach a different 60% at each worship time.

    To take off on an old saying, you can satisfy some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.

    Among the most telling points Jay made is this one: We should be coming to worship to encourage others — putting others above ourselves. Our failure to put others first often leads to most of our conflicts — including the conflict of the style of music in worship.

  8. To David Himes:

    I am interesting in your point, “But worship is not FOR God, it is FOR us.” Upon what do you base that?

    By that logic, would you also say that we are to love God with all our hearts and minds NOT for HIM, but for US?

    Honestly, that makes sense to me—for what I believe to be the nature of God’s heart. I’m getting a little off subject here, but I’ve always wondered about that command.

  9. Hypothetically,

    I’m a father. My kids love me. A lot. They look out for each other, go out or their way to help each other, they encourage each other and build up one another. Others see them and the way they conduct themselves and admire them. And those folks say, “Wow, you are wonderful people. You treat everyone with respect and humility and serve those you come in contact with.” And the children say, “O it’s not us! We just live like our Father taught us. That’s how we were raised! If you know us, you’d know our Dad.” Do you know how much that honors me? Can you possibly imagine what it’s like to have your children testify to others that they love them because I loved them first? I don’t need them to call me three times a week and say ‘You’re great! You’re great!’ I’m honored and adored by the way they interact, encourage, build up, serve and love one another. It’s directed towards each other, but it’s me that’s honored!

    Get it?

  10. Jerry,

    Some good points and, you’re right. And we should adjust our type of music to the culture of today. I just think we need to be careful and that that the approach of submiting to the tastes and opinions of the youth and least mature (new Christians), and to the Christian world around us can (and has in many cases), carried over into other ares of the church. Even into the realm of what we even teach (or refuse to teach). The role of the elders (and who can be one), etc.

    I am fine with changing the style of music we sing. I just worry about the general idea of adjusting to the likes and dislikes of the immature (or new) believers.

  11. The denomonation known as the Church of Christ is at a fork in the road. 80% of our children are leaving the church by the age of 20. Only 35% ever return. Why? Because their faith is not their own. It is their parent’s faith, their parent’s church, their parent’s worship. If they cannot find a place where the message and worship is relevent to them, they will find another denomonation or leave their search for faith all together. The churches who realize this and do something about it will be the only ones left standing when the babyboomers are gone. This “niche” that we have appealed to over the last 50 years is getting older and smaller. Its doctrine and philosophies are “destined to perish with use” like the “will-worship” Paul preached against. I am a minister in a church of christ and my teenage son is a respectful, responsible, and Godly young man. But he is also a young man who will never worship at an accappella church once he leaves my home. That is his choice, it is not sinful. He is moved to worship through christian contemporary music. His faith is his own. His worship is in his own way. And I couldn’t be prouder.

  12. Don

    You are right and it is a hard problem to solve but we have to try.I have taught a life group of the older members for years and the complaints they register are around the power point presentations and music styles.Naturally they want traditional music and have problems with the power point that has music or a action type theme consistant with the sermon. How do you satisfy the young and old simutaneously? How cam you design one service for all?

    David, you have a challenging task as worship director and I’m sure the problem frustrates you to satisfy all.

    I personally am for helping the younger have a service they can relate to. I am old enough to get all I need out of about anything by the way of music or whatever else. Our children are growing up in an unbelievably sin filled world of sex, drugs and goodies. It is impossible to watch a movie that sex is not performed several times during the movie or on TV.

    We need to help our children and show a lot of toleration toward worship style, not only for them but the lost and un churched.

    We are a community consisting of all ages and maturity. They did it Acts 2:42-46. We should be able to find a model that works, The World of AD 50 was pretty evil as well.

    Hoping for the best Bob

  13. Hank, Islam means submit. It was a joke.

    Jerry, I never said the music style is mandated by Scripture. And I agree that “The assembly is not a performance with God as the audience.” But I’m not edified by the music minister leading the most complicated song he can possibly find just to show off, and that generally what this contemporary stuff is about. Its pride: “Look at the complcated crazy song I know how to lead! Don’t I know music so well?!!” A lot of times you can actually see it in the deranged expression of the music minister, when he smiles like a nut and holds his head as high as he can, genuflexing and all, to make the point “I’m super holy and talented.” I’m in my 20s but I’d much rather have a crotchety old man get up and lead Rock of Ages or When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, than have to watch the profane type of show that some of my contemporaries put on up there.

  14. This “niche” that we have appealed to over the last 50 years is getting older and smaller. Its doctrine and philosophies are “destined to perish with use” like the “will-worship” Paul preached against.” (Don)

    How exactly do you define “will-worship”? Again, I see irony. If singing accappella hymns is will-worship then Guitar Mass is certainly will-worship on steroids. How then do we avoid will-worship?

  15. rey, seems you have an inferiority complex problem. Try praying about it instead of blaming others.

  16. to JMF:

    First, as Jay’s post highlights, worship is about encouraging one another — I’ll not bother repeat it. I just rephrased a point Jay made.

    Second, how does worshipping God, change God? I think not at all, but worshipping God, does change us.

    Third, according to 1 John 4, we love God by loving one another. God is glorified because we love others the way Jesus loved us — that is our response to his grace, love and forgiveness.

    Is God changed because we love him? Are we changed because we love one another?

  17. Interesting Rey complains that contemporary singing is the most complicated song available and I hear regular complaints that contemporary praise is too simple and repetitive. How about some of the part songs we have sung for years? They are very complicated songs which serve to highlight the skills of the various voices in turn. They only seem simple because we heard them in our cribs. Rey you focus on the outside, worship begins and ends in the heart, with the spirit. If you worship in spirit and in truth it is hard to find a worship style offensive.

  18. “They didn’t demand that we inject the sounds of the Charleston into our song service. Nor jazz in the 30s, nor swing in the 40s, nor surfing music in the 50s.”

    Stamps-Baxter music owes much of its syncopated rhythmic style to the Rag-Time music that had its heyday in the 19-teens. Interestingly enough, Rag-Time was also a major influence on Jazz.

    In its day Rag-Time so popular that Scott Joplin – easily the genre’s most famous contributor – sold over a million copies of the sheet music to his “Maple Leaf Rag.” At the same time, however, many pious individuals considered vulgar. Some racially motivated jerks went as far as to create a parody genre known as – please excuse the expression as it’s not mine – “coon music.”

    My point in saying all of this that I have a sneaking suspicion that if you attempted to lead a Stamps-Baxter song in a Church of Christ circa 1914, the Rag-Time influences would be immediately recognized and someone could easily make the similar arguments against its inclusion.

    Just sayin’…

  19. “They didn’t demand that we inject the sounds of the Charleston into our song service. Nor jazz in the 30s, nor swing in the 40s, nor surfing music in the 50s.”

    Stamps-Baxter music owes much of its syncopated rhythmic style to the Rag-Time music that had its heyday in the 19-teens. Interestingly enough, Rag-Time was also a major influence on Jazz.

    In its day Rag-Time so popular that Scott Joplin – easily the genre’s most famous contributor – sold over a million copies of the sheet music to his “Maple Leaf Rag.” At the same time, however, many pious individuals considered it vulgar. Some racially motivated jerks went as far as to create a parody genre known as – please excuse the expression as it’s not mine – “coon music.”

    My point in saying all of this that I have a sneaking suspicion that if you attempted to lead a Stamps-Baxter song in a Church of Christ circa 1914, the Rag-Time influences would be immediately recognized and someone could easily make similar arguments against its inclusion.

    Just sayin’…

    Jay, any chance you could delete my comment above? I didn’t mean to post it in all italics.

  20. Can someone explain what exactly Stamps-Baxter is? Perhaps name a song that classifies as Stamps-Baxter. (Probably won’t help much because I still probably won’t know it.)

  21. “Just a little talk with Jesus”, “Farther Along”…Maybe it’s a southern thang.

  22. I know those songs, but I’m still unclear on where the dividing line between Stamps-Baxter and a classic old 1700s hymn like When I survey the Wondrous Cross is. I don’t like that peppy march imitating stuff. Its annoying. Its performance directed not worshipful. And they tend to be generic too.

    “Interesting Rey complains that contemporary singing is the most complicated song available and I hear regular complaints that contemporary praise is too simple and repetitive.”

    Repetitive yes, simple no.
    Contemporary music always has a lot of jumps and repeats and you’re left starting at the page thinking “where are we at now???!!?!?!!?”

    “How about some of the part songs we have sung for years? They are very complicated songs which serve to highlight the skills of the various voices in turn.”

    A lot of those peppy overcomplicated march songs I consider ‘contemporary’ even if that’s not correct usage of the term.

    “Rey you focus on the outside, worship begins and ends in the heart, with the spirit. If you worship in spirit and in truth it is hard to find a worship style offensive.”

    I’m talking about the attitude of the music minister which is visible in his demeanor and reveals the true purpose of the style change. It isn’t the style itself I’m referring to. The motive for the change in style comes from within, and yet manifests itself without. And in the demented “look how holy I am expression” on the face, I see the devil tormenting the congregation.

  23. This “niche” that we have appealed to over the last 50 years is getting older and smaller. Its doctrine and philosophies are “destined to perish with use” like the “will-worship” Paul preached against.” (Don)

    How exactly do you define “will-worship”? Again, I see irony. If singing accappella hymns is will-worship then Guitar Mass is certainly will-worship on steroids. How then do we avoid will-worship? (rey)

    Sorry rey, I should have been clearer. When I said “will-worship” I was quoting from the “King Jimmy”. NIV says, “self-imposed worship” (Col. 2:20-23)

    When I said the doctrine of the C of C is “will-worship and destined to perish with use” I was referring to our desire to make the world submit to our rules, our “human commands and teachings”. Our restrictions on worship are not God-imposed, they are “self-imposed”. And, to some, they may indeed have an appearance of wisdom…..but one might sooner hold back the tide than to tame and regulate worship. If it is in you, it will come out…and most of the time…it won’t be constrained to “3 songs, a prayer, a song, the Lord’s Supper, invitation song and a closing prayer”. It should be the kind of worship Paul described, where an unbeliever who enters will fall down on his face and worship God exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

  24. Wasn’t Paul talking about prophecing a person’s sins when he said that? 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” He’s talking about how someone would be able to do what Jesus did with the woman at the well and tell her she had 5 husbands without even knowing her. There is no way worship today will ever be like this.

    But back to my question on how you define ‘will-worship.’ I am very aware of what King Jimmy says. My question wasn’t about the phrase ‘will-worship’ but what you think it mean. Obviously it means a worship that you make up yourself. That’s my point. Wouldn’t that description fit more with contemporary worship? Isn’t it more made-up?

    Say what you will about 3-6 songs, some prayers, a sermon and the Lord’s supper. But these things are actually found in the NT. A lot of what people come out with today isn’t. So my point is that if anything is “will-worship” its contemporary worship. Its made up in people’s own heads and not from the Bible, right?

  25. Actually, rey, what we “read about in the NT” is worship that involves prophecy, prayer, speaking in tongues, singing, demons being cast out, preaching, interpretations, people being healed, Saturday worship, Sunday worship, Worship in homes, Worship by the river, presenting your body as a living sacrifice before God as a spiritual act of worship, love feasts, and even more stuff that we would never allow in C’s of C today.

    If anyone is still diluded enough to believe that the mission of the “C of C” was to restore the NT church then they obviously haven’t READ about the NT church because we don’t look anything like them…..nor should we.

    We must be Christ to the world today. I have no desire to be the 1st Century Church. I have every desire to be the 21st Century Church.

    The reason the C of C doctrine is destined to perish is clear. While claiming to be the 1st Century Church, we really desire to be the 1950’s Church and to remain so forever. Our funnel (who we will and will not accept) is getting more and more narrow and our requirements for who we will and will not fellowship (based on human commands and teachings – thus -Paul’s definition of will-worship) get more and more stringient. To the point where most churches can’t even fellowship each other anymore. It is Pharaseeism run amuck. Read the “woes” Jesus expressed against the Jewish equivalent of the the C of C and you will see a description of half of the Church of Christ Elders and Preachers I know.
    It is all destined to perish.

  26. By the way, rey, will-worship is not “worship you make up yourself”. Paul is saying that will-worship is making self-imposed regualations (or in other words…”the rules”) what you really worship. Instead of worshipping God and his son Jesus Christ, you worship the rules….how we “do church”….that becomes the ultimate goal…the main consideration. What you can and cannot do…that becomes the ultimate test for fellowship or for “true-believers”.

    Doesn’t that sound familiar? If it doesn’t….you haven’t been to a church of Christ lately.

  27. Weldon,

    Thanks for that piece of musical history. It makes sense. And explains why some of those songs are so hard to sing.

  28. Don,

    I think you’ve nailed “will worship.” As we see in Galatians, binding rules that God doesn’t bind is a serious error. When in doubt, binding a rule on your brother is not the safe course.

  29. Isn’t “true worship” how we show God’s love by taking care of those around us who are in need? True, we are told to not forsake the gathering of ourselves together, but that is for the purpose of edifying and encouraging each other. As for serving, (which in the previous posts seems to mean giving up one’s preferences for what type of songs to sing in “worship service”) that is supposed to mean taking care of the needs of others. Period. It has nothing to do with personal taste in singing, and it does not apply to the “older” more than to the “younger”, as seems to be indicated in prior posts. It applies to every Christian. If we truly put God first in all of our actions, all else will fall into place!

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