October 31, 2015

I’ve seen about a million posts this week about what constitutes an appropriate “Christian” response to Halloween. My own childhood having been during the height of the evangelical withdrawal from Halloween festivities, I think I have a pretty good perspective on how Christians should respond. Here’s my take: -Relax. -Let your kids put on costumes of their choice. Because costumes are not satanic. -Take them trick or treating. Because getting to know your neighbors is not satanic. -Avoid any local… Read more

October 19, 2015

(Photo: Flickr: by Jiaren Lau, creative commons license) I grew up listening to contemporary Christian music. I’ve still got the Michael W. Smith cassette tapes to prove it. For a Baptist homeschooler, there was really no other option, it seemed. Our church was also contemporary, but in the late 80s and early 90s, that meant we sang little choruses, a few early CCM songs (think Keith Green, Maranatha, that sort of thing) and some gospel hymn medleys, not the stuff… Read more

October 2, 2015

I am tempted to feel apathetic, Lord, and that frightens me. These horrific and senseless acts of violence have escalated, and become so frequent that they are commonplace.  We remember Columbine. We remember Virginia Tech. We remember Sandy Hook. Another school, a college, a movie theater, a restaurant, a house of worship. After a while, they begin to run together, and that is a terrible thing. May we not be desensitized, but may our hearts break at the pain and… Read more

September 25, 2015

A Problematic Prelude After fighting the worship wars for a generation, evangelical churches first tried something they called “blended” worship (I used to make people mad by calling it “lukewarm worship”), which wasn’t the REAL blended worship as much as it was an ad hoc order of service usually including hymn/chorus medleys. In the end, nobody was any happier, usually because the medleys were weird and the enmeshment of organ and praise band even weirder. It magnified the disunity. Larger… Read more

September 16, 2015

It’s about meaning. A Problematic Prelude One of the things that I find puzzling about the whole worship conversation is all the put-on sympathy when it comes to worship practice. “You might prefer traditional worship, but I enjoy contemporary. Stop trying to force your preference on everyone else.” But everything we do in corporate worship has theological implications that are inescapable. When a church holds two services with different musical “styles,” the intention is to cater to various personal tastes… Read more

September 10, 2015

(I received this comment on my Contemporary Worship IS Declining post in response to my assertion that the contemporary worship movement has led to “Hillsongization,” a dreadful condition in which many churches sing the same songs, sing them often, and since they’re mostly aiming to replicate a commercial recording, usually sing them in the same way. Maybe they even do occasional hymns, but these are also replications of commercial recordings or reworkings of the tune so it fits in a… Read more

September 8, 2015

The false dichotomy of worship that fractures our churches into “traditional” and “contemporary” worshiping bodies has pitted old against new. This is detrimental in a multitude of ways, not the least of which is our congregational singing. I’ve written before about why we should be singing old songs. Here are a few reasons why we should be singing new songs, as well. 1. Time marches on. So does our story. Much of the church’s song repertoire was borne out of… Read more

September 4, 2015

Contemporary worship is declining. Some months ago T. David Gordon wrote a post entitled “The Imminent Decline of Contemporary Worship Music: Eight Reasons” that continues to be widely read and shared. While I don’t agree with Gordon on every point, what he says gives us hope for the future of the worshiping church. Alongside his reasons, here are the three main reasons I see for the decline (if not demise) of the contemporary worship movement. Baby boomers are losing their… Read more

August 18, 2015

Don Piper has an amazing story. In case you haven’t heard it, let me summarize. In 1989, Don was in a catastrophic accident in rural Texas on the way home from a pastor’s conference at a Baptist camp. His Ford Escort was hit by a semi, and he suffered life-threatening injuries. Rescue personnel assumed he was dead, covered him up, and went about tending to other victims. Some 90 minutes later, while a fellow Baptist minister prays for him in… Read more

August 10, 2015

Opening Sentences It’s about meaning, not preference. I must have typed that a hundred times here on the blog in response to the accusation that I just want everyone to worship like I do. Affirmation of Faith Traditional worship includes a wide and diverse spectrum of practices that span the history of the Christian church. If you were to visit ten different traditional services, you would probably come away with ten different ideas as to what exactly traditional worship is;… Read more

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