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By In Family and Children, Music

Musical Segregation: Questions from a Concerned Pastor

I am not a trained sociologist, though I play one at home as a father. I am constantly analyzing trends and the origination of certain behaviors and offering solutions. Thankfully, as a Christian father, sociology can be summarized simply by the study of sinful patterns; patterns that can be easily studied and analyzed.

As a pastor, I also have the opportunity to study trends and patterns in the local church. Church life is messy, and with it comes messy patterns and behaviors that only Jesus can undo. But I am not only a student of my congregation, I also enjoy studying modern church trends. In such cases, my studies will lack the gravitas found in well-funded research teams. Still, I am comforted by the fact that every sociologist is biased. He may have correct numbers, but what he does with the numbers is based on his presuppositions. How he phrases the questions determines what responses he will receive.

I set this background to emphasize that my conclusions are not flawless but grounded in my personal, ecclesiastical, and societal concerns. With this in mind, let me make the following assertion: “Churches that segregate musically are bound to segregate corporately.” I have seen it happen again and again, but beyond the anecdotal evidence, the rationale of modern trends seem to affirm that proposition. Let me flesh out my concerns with a few questions and affirmations:

First, why do we assume that children and teens need a different kind of music than adults? Why do we think that “praise and worship” provide something for young folks and not for older saints? We attempt to accommodate the tastes of Christians in different stages of life, but what are we actually accomplishing? Are we merely perpetuating society’s self-centeredness? Is ecclesiastical music shaped to fit particular tastes and styles?

Second, I have noticed that every church that has a modern flavor differs from other churches that offer modern musical flavors. So to say, “I like contemporary music,” leads to another question: “What kind?” Is Amy Grant “old” contemporary? Is Michael W. Smith “old” contemporary? Is Hillsong music “new” contemporary? We must keep in mind that we are dealing with a span of 20-30 years here.

Third, we have abandoned Psalm-shaped music. I am not advocating exclusive psalmody, but I am saying that when we abandon the regular singing of psalms, we lose gospel creativity to compose biblical hymns. Historically, psalm-centered churches produced psalm-like hymns.

Fourth, as our children continue to grow in evangelical churches where music is dispersed according to age and style, how will they and their aging parents ever come to a proper understanding of the role of music in the Church? Will they ever be able to sit together to sing? Will the college bound son ever wish to come to dad’s church during summer breaks and genuinely enjoy singing praises to God? Or will he merely tolerate it, as a kind gesture to his Fanny Crosby-loving parents?

Fifth, have we considered the consequences of dividing our services into contemporary and traditional? Are we making it easier for older saints to bless younger saints, or are we making it harder? How are we stressing unity when our churches naturally divide over musical styles? Can we fulfill Paul’s exhortations to eat and drink together?a

Sixth, is contemporary music as a category truly contemporary? “Shine, Jesus, Shine” appears archaic to modern worship services. While new musical compositions can be admirable things, many churches only use music composed by their musical team. What happens for visitors who are long-time Christians? What happens when people from diverse contemporary churches visit a church that writes their own contemporary melodies? Are the contemporary going to feel divorced from their fellow contemporary music lovers?

Seventh, does the predominant hunger for the new ever get old? In other words, what happens when millennials raise their own children who think their parents’ music is as old as an MP3 player? What happens when the world turns against the modern?

Eighth, are we teaching through our music that music divides rather than unites? Are we teaching our children that what we sing is what we like and we like only what we sing?

Ninth, will our children leave us when they find us to be evangelically irrelevant to them? Are we setting the stage for their departure by granting their generation musical style privilege?

Finally, what role does the Bible play in our church music? Does tradition provide any help in our consideration of what we should sing? Can we merely discard 1,900 years of church music for the new? Are we a better generation than our faithful forefathers who gave their lives for the gospel? Do we follow in the train of the latest trend, or the Davidic train that offered us divinely-inspired music? Does our inspiration in modern composition stem from cultural romantic tales or the gospel romance of Ruth and Boaz? Is our church music bringing our families closer together, or is it separating us? Can your 18-year-old say, “Dad, let’s sing together?” If not, is that a good thing?

We all claim our music is praise-worthy, but can our music be God-worthy if God’s people are not singing a new song together?

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  1. I am fully aware of functional/practical building issues, but here I am referring to churches that can easily accommodate everyone in one service  (back)

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By In Theology

On Dasher

enthronement of sonA virgin conceived. A carpenter believed. Shepherds dutifully tended their flocks, and angels joyfully followed their orders. God’s messengers made announcements from high in the heavens while a young couple made preparations in a lowly stable. A baby was born—rather the baby was born. The King of Kings left his throne and took up residence on his footstool.

Advent and Christmas—the commemoration of Jesus Christ’s nativity is festive and rightfully so. The only begotten Son of the Father came to earth in obscurity only once, and this unique, cosmos changing event inspires singers to sing, pipers to pipe, and dancers to dance. The trimming and lighting of buildings and trees; the baking and cooking and roasting of food; the drinking of glasses and bottles of wine; the making and buying and giving of gifts are exceedingly appropriate human responses to the coming of Messiah. There is every reason to celebrate for the King of Kings has come, but not all celebrated his arrival.

Herod, the king of Judea, heard of this child born King of the Jews. In futility he attempted to commit regicide, but could only accomplish infanticide—mass infanticide. This king of the earth set himself up against the Lord and against his Anointed. Herod dashed the innocents; Rachel wept; comfort was refused. Joseph dreamed and fled. Herod died. Joseph dreamed again and returned. Thus, out of Egypt God called his Son. The Holy Family settled in Nazareth, from whence something good finally came. No, not something good—someone great.

The great thing about a great king—a reason to celebrate—is that he always remembers that he is never less than a king. He serves as king from morning to noon and from noon until night. He sleeps as a king and awakens a king in the morning. A great king never tires, yea, he ever lives to serve his people, and Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, is such a King. He always protects his people. He always stands against his foes. He instructs his people to recognize the enemy, and he equips and prepares them to fight.

This requires a great king to be a great judge. As long as there are enemies, a king must rightly separate friend from foe.  Royal discernment is the order of the day in order to distribute weal and woe accordingly, and distribute it he will, for a great king is not one to be trifled with.

The righteous are left unprotected if the evil are left unchecked. Therefore, a merciful king wields a rod of iron for a singular act with a manifold purpose: to strike down the impudent enemy, thereby protecting the innocent from the enemy’s wiles. Since the enemy’s endgame is nothing shy of the throne itself, for a righteous king to guard his throne is to guard his people. The enemy wants the kingdom, the throne, and, ultimately, the people. The enemy wants it all. He has ever since that tree in the middle of the garden.

Like the vikings of old, this enemy cannot be placated. To quote Rudyard Kipling, “We’ve proved it again and again. That if you once pay him the Dane-geld, you never get rid of the Dane.” Either the enemy must be converted, thereby ceasing to be a threat by ceasing to be the enemy, or the enemy must be dashed into pieces, thereby ceasing to be the enemy by simply ceasing to be. A wise king knows this and strikes a death blow with exacting precision.

As the kings of the earth take counsel together and set themselves against the Lord and against his Anointed this Advent season, the followers of the King of Kings have no reason to fear and every reason to rejoice. The whole point of Advent is that we now know the name of the Lord’s Anointed. Jesus is the Son to be kissed, lest he be angry and you perish in the way. And Jesus is the One who blesses all those who take refuge in him (Psalm 2:12). Behold, the goodness and severity of God (Rom. 11:22).

A virgin conceived. A carpenter believed. The baby was born. The King of Kings left his throne and took up residence on his footstool. King Jesus laid down his life, and he took it up again. Wielding a rod of iron, he needed only one swing to both conquer his foe and save his people. In Jesus Christ, we have every reason to rejoice and sing, to eat and drink, and to have ourselves a merry little Christmas.

“You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Psalm 2:9

This article was originally published in Every Thought Captive magazine, Volume 18 Issue 10, December 2014<>game mobiкак правильно раскрутить

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By In Worship

What Does the Ascension of Jesus Mean for Us?

The Church celebrates the Ascension of our Lord today. Since most churches are not able to have Thursday services, traditionally many of them celebrate Ascension on Sunday. The Ascension of Jesus is barely mentioned in the evangelical vocabulary. We make room for his birth, death, and resurrection, but we tend to put a period where God puts a comma.

If the resurrection was the beginning of Jesus’ enthronement, then the ascension is the establishment of his enthronement. The Ascension activates Christ’s victory in history. The Great Commission is only relevant because of the Ascension. Without the Ascension, the call to baptize and disciple the nations would be meaningless. It is on the basis of Jesus’ enthronement at the right-hand of the Father that we image-bearers can de-throne rulers through the power and authority of our Great Ruler, Jesus Christ.

The Ascension then is a joyful event, because it is the genesis of the Church’s triumph over the world. Further, it defines us as a people of glory and power, not of weakness and shame. As Jesus is ascended, we too enter into his ascension glory (Col. 3:1) This glory exhorts us to embrace full joy. As Alexander Schmemann once wrote:

“The Church was victorious over the world through joy…and she will lose the world when she loses its joy… Of all accusations against Christians, the most terrible one was uttered by Nietzsche when he said that Christians had no joy.”

A joy-less Christian faith is a faith that has not ascended. Where Christ is we are.

And we know that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. He is ruling and reigning from his heavenly throne. The Father has given him the kingdom (Psalm 2), and now he is preserving, progressing, and perfecting his kingdom. He is bringing all things under subjection (I Cor. 15:24-26).

We know that when he was raised from the dead, Jesus was raised bodily. But Gnostic thinking would have us assume that since Jesus is in heaven he no longer needs a physical body. But the same Father who raised Jesus physically, also has his Son sitting beside him in a physical body.  As one author observed:

Jesus has gone before us in a way we may follow through the Holy Spirit whom he has sent, because the way is in his flesh, in his humanity. a

Our Lord is in his incarnation body at the right hand of the Father. This has all sorts of implications for us in worship. We are worshipping a God/Man; one who descended in human flesh and who ascended in human flesh. He is not a disembodied spirit. He is truly God and truly man.

As we consider and celebrate the Ascension of our blessed Lord, remember that you are worshiping the One who understands your needs, because he has a body just like you and he rejoices with you because he has a body just like you.<>skypebreaker.comстатистика ключевых слов гугл

  1. Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World. Paraphrased  (back)

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