August 16, 2018

Gonna Take a Sentimental Journey When I was a kid, I thought I really really loved hymns.  At least I thought I did. We didn’t sing them much at my 80s-fabulous megachurch, but I learned a few in children’s choir, I learned them for piano lessons, and there were the occasional trips to visit my grandparents over a weekend, where I would put on my Sunday best, park my butt in the cushioned pew, and when the time came for… Read more

August 13, 2018

Apparently John Piper added some words to the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and some people aren’t happy about it. Christianity Today spoke to a few hymnology “experts” for their opinion, and since my phone has yet to ring, I’ll go ahead and talk about it here. Also, allow me to share this friendly message. Dear Christianity Today, Hymns have words, not “lyrics.” Your Friend, Jonathan The Essential John Piper Knowing a little about Piper is important to this discussion,… Read more

August 10, 2018

It looks like the beginning of the end at Willow Creek. They aren’t saying that, but I feel like that’s what’s happening. If so, good riddance. And you can take the megachurch movement you spawned with you. I’m sorry if I sound bitter. I’m not, really. More relieved than anything else. Saddened for the stories of abuse, gaslighting, and hero worship. Grieved by the commoditization of human hearts and souls, the theological void, and the liturgical collapse. But relieved that… Read more

August 9, 2018

As a church musician, I’ve done my share of denominational sojourning. Every time I join a new tradition, I make sure I have funeral plans ready following its liturgy, even though I hope to not be using them any time soon. This service follows the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship. A Service of Witness to the Resurrection Gathering Prelude Solemn Melody H. Walford Davies Greeting Grace and peace in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We gather today in… Read more

August 9, 2018

One of the things the baby boomer generation has introduced into the liturgical sphere is the “celebration of life” service. That’s quite unfortunate. A “celebration of life” points to a dead person. A funeral points to the cross. A “celebration of life” sidesteps grief. A funeral confronts grief head-on. A “celebration of life” ignores resurrection. A funeral depends on resurrection. Funerals aren’t celebrations of human life. Funerals are proclamations of another life, a life that ended in a death that ended… Read more

August 7, 2018

Well, discussion on last week’s post on the Rocky Mountain Church job listing didn’t go as expected. You might recall that I wrote about the Colorado church that was looking to hire a “pastor” to plagiarize and impersonate other celebrity pastors every Sunday. Ridiculous, right? Yes, of course. But a strange thing happened in the comments. Instead of people discussing the ridiculousness of the Rocky Mountain situation, and other more common trends the megachurch movement has inspired, a number of… Read more

August 4, 2018

My name’s Jonathan, and I struggle with depression. So please know that when I wrote a post like this, I do so out of experience and deep empathy. These are not just vapid gospel songs that salve the soul but offer little truth. I’m not going to tell you what others have said; that if you just praise God all your troubles will melt away. Those are evil lies. Reliance upon God doesn’t melt away your troubles, and those who… Read more

August 3, 2018

I thought I had heard everything from the church growth crowd. I really did. Wrong. First, there was the celebrity pastor. That was bad enough. Now, there’s the celebrity pastor plagiarizer. I am not making this up. Rocky Mountain Church is a new aspiring megachurch in Woodland Park, Colorado. So far, their strategy has been to have fun “worship” music and watch a YouTube video of a hip celebrity pastor. Now, they’re upping their game. According to their website and… Read more

August 2, 2018

In my last post, I talked about the weird, unnecessary, overly pragmatic reasons we have for omitting stanzas of hymns. Of course, I forgot about my Southern Baptist background and some of their weird idiosyncrasies: They think you have to bring a covered dish to heaven with you when you die. They think the promised land is in Nashville, Tennessee. They think they should abstain from sex, lest it lead to dancing. They think it’s in the Bible somewhere that… Read more

August 2, 2018

In my time as a church musician, I have gotten more than an occasional gripe about why we have to sing all the stanzas of all the hymns. Often they come from the pews, occasionally they come from choir members. More often than you’d believe, they come from pastors. Fortunately at my current post, this really isn’t an issue, but other places, it’s been made into a big deal. Of course, there are many clergy who align a little closer… Read more

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