September 30, 2009

Excellence in Music, Excellence in Worship

Awesome response from my hubby who is so much more eloquent than I. Just wanted to share. If you don't know the context of this discussion , go to Josh Skogerboe's blog post , but this is a great standalone post also.

What I love about these seeker sensitive guys is that if a bunch of people react 'violently' to what they said (in this case about seeker sensitive music and worship) they blame it on the people. If a shepherd gives an experimental treatment or any other kind of treatment to a sheep and it has a violent reaction... does he blame the sheep?

All these seeker sensitive guys are feeding the sheep a high copper (i.e. worldly) diet that may be fit for goats and other animals, and then blaming the sheep for being weak and sickly and unable to 'feed themselves.'

That's not leadership, that's Jeremiah 23 'shepherd' behavior, or Ezekiel 34.

Anyway, on to Jason's post:

-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------
Subject: FWIW
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2009 05:21:26 +0000

I'd agree completely that too often "good enough for church" is used as an excuse for doing less than our best for the Lord. I've been on the soapbox fighting against that myself; it's no different than excusing poor Bible teaching or preaching because according to Is 55:11, God's Word "will not return... empty".

Having said that, I don't believe you've made your case well.

First, while I really appreciate that you provided a definition for "redeem," yours seemed sloppy, particularly given the first use you make of the term: "Our God is a Redeemer, and He uses His people – sometimes His artists – to bring about the work of redemption."

God's work of redemption is not fundamentally a restoration of honor; it is a buying back of His chosen people, paying the debts they cannot through Christ our Redeemer's inexpressible sacrifice.

I have no quarrel with your later use of the term talking about redeeming the phrase "good enough for church." But I hesitate to frame God's redemption of the believer in terms of restoration of honor or reputation of the Christian. Our redemption is completely by God's grace, through His gift of faith, by His choosing, and to His glory. Our value, honor, worth, and reputation is only found in Christ; we should be careful to always keep that in mind, or we'll be starting down a dangerous road.

Second, you spend quite a bit of time encouraging the church to create "excellent art." I would agree, IF we share the same criteria for excellence. That's the rub within any critique of art, and I think it's even more important when evaluating anything created directly for usage in worship or other ministry.

For example, are there objective standards of beauty that can be used as criteria? If so, what are they and what is their source? Are they self-evident in the nature of created order, or are they founded in some aspect of God's character?

Here's a more difficult one: Is effectiveness a criterion? If so, where does it rank in priority? Is "Does it work?" synonymous with "Is it good?" This is not an empty philosophical question; pragmatism is a horribly seductive error. It's seductive because it's so in tune with American cultural values of hard work and success; it is a two-fold error because at its core it assumes that we can (1) by our efforts move anyone toward (2) choosing salvation, contrary to Eph 2:8-9, and Luther's useful synopsis of Scripture found in the explanation to the Third Article of the Apostle's Creed. The embrace of pragmatic methodologies is causing enormous damage within churches today.

Until one has a biblical, consistent criteria of evaluation, there is no point in "recalibrating your excellence meter." In fact, it may be harmful, if one's meter allows worldly standards to trump eternal ones.

Unfortunately, you don't develop any criteria in this regard, Josh, so the reader is forced to supply the missing context. Frankly, that is dangerous. Are you arguing that only those with as-yet-undefined-but-significant talent and training should be allowed to serve in church? That a body that's unable to develop advertising that holds its own in the local media should close the doors until it can, or hire out the expertise that God hasn't brought to the congregation? That excellence is a fluid target, depending on the size of the church and the talent and training of the people within it? Regardless of your intent, I could see all three positions claiming the support of your article, even though they're mutually exclusive!

I don't want to just throw stones, so here's what I'd argue, and I believe I can support: God has called us to be faithful, not effective (see Ezekiel and Jeremiah). A church that preaches the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:21-27), edifies the body, and practices church discipline is being faithful; any numeric growth (or lack thereof) is by God's will according to His purpose. To be blunt, there is no such thing as a "seeker" as defined by Revs Warren and Hybels (per Rom 3:10, "There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.")

Given that, we as believers should be good stewards of the gifts and talents that God's given us, as we are faithful in the works He has prepared for us. I would agree that Col 3:23 has implications for the believer in serving the church, and that it calls us work diligently, to the best of our ability, but always keeping in mind biblical priorities and constraints. For example, could I play piano better on Sunday if I practiced three hours a day? Yes. But should I do that if it means ignoring my family? No.

Does this mean that sometimes I have to lower my expectations a bit because I'm singing with people who are less skilled? Absolutely. And I'm sure that tomorrow or next week, another in the body will have to be patient with my clumsiness in some other way. We strive to do our best, but if we keep in mind how flawed and defective our BEST is (outside of Christ) in relation to God's perfection, I would hope we'd be better able to be patient with someone else in church who has trouble staying on pitch every now and then.

September 13, 2009

Sunday School today

My husband used the first 15 minutes of Bob DeWaay and Gary Gilley's Faith at risk 4 Conference from Twin City Fellowship in Sunday School today. The seminar was entitled "Sola Scriptura" and focuses on trends that are undermining protestant Evangelicalism's faith and trust in the Word of God, that are coming into the very churches that are supposed to be preaching it, nowadays. Evangelicalism seems to be, in fact, returning to Rome little by little.

Husband was very careful to preface the whole thing with disclaimers about how sometimes it may get a little 'thick' for people who aren't used to this sort of thing but to be patient because pastor Bob DeWaay is awfully good at anticipating when people are going to be confused and to stop and explain. We went over definitions of terms that may be unfamiliar, etc. And husband pleaded with people not to just 'check out' if they hear something they disagree with or don't understand - but to please write down questions or comments, we want to discuss them!

After about 10 minutes in to your first session, one middle aged very QUIET single guy got UP and walked out, muttering "well this isn't interesting at ALL!" and my husband actually HEARD him. (So did a few others, but everyone else was very audibly and vocally enthusiastic and interested, including the pastor and his wife!)

The thing is, if it wasn't interesting, if being bored is ALL it was, would someone really risk doing something so noticeable to get out of there? Or would he just wait until the end of class and not come back? Something tells me something else is going on.

In any case, I talked to the pastor's wife about it and she was going to notifiy pastor and hopefully he will be able to check in on the guy and find out what is going on, because she agreed it was very strange. We didn't see him at all during church but I was in the nursery and husband was in the sound booth, so... hopefully he didn't go all the way home and stay there skipping church just because he was BORED! (?!)

Also was informed Chris Rosebrough will be coming in October to Twin City Fellowship where Bob DeWaay is senior pastor. EXCELLENT! I will definitely be there if it is at all possible!