Sometimes, when I’m trying to focus, I need music. Some like a quiet place to find center; not me–I’m a noisy guy. Not only that, I grew up in the ’60’s & 70’s–well, “grew up” may be somewhat inaccurate; most people who know me very well swear I’m still a kid, albeit a 59 year old kid.
So I guess it is OK for this 20th century conservative preacher to say “I love rock & roll!” Therein is the quandary. I enjoy music. These days K-Love is more my speed but sometimes I just need a good dose of Rock 103 [Memphis, TN]. Some days I find myself in a jazzy mood, other days it’s instrumental. Sometimes I like straight-up country and western, you know, George Strait not Taylor Swift. BTW, if you haven’t listened/watched Big & Rich’s That’s Why I Pray, do yourself a great big favor and watch/listen to it today.
Sometimes I like Southern Gospel; later in the day I might find myself listening to Grand Funk Railroad or the James Gang. For me, music taste is like fresh-brewed green tea at five in the morning. I never know which of 5 or 6 varieties I’m going to throw in the pot until I stumble into the kitchen eyes half open. That doesn’t mean that Earl Green in any better than Jasmin Pearls. It just means that my taste is different that day.
A few weeks ago, Debbie and I went to Florida to visit with our son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. Recently, they moved near Ft. Lauderdale to serve in a really big church. Chris, my son, gave me the 50 cent tour and I was truly amazed. God has been working overtime in that place. It appears they are a well-oiled machine when it comes to doing Kingdom work. On the Sunday morning we were there with them in Coral Springs, we went to one of their four Sunday services–the one we attended was, I think, their “main” service. Several thousand people gathered and, then. . .then it happened. The theater like setting of the church went dark, the lights began to flash, the drummer let loose, the lead and back-up guitars began to twang, the bass player ripped a riff, the keyboard chimed in, and the praise team began to sing. FLASHBACK. Where was I? Is this church or am I back in NYC or Baltimore or Philly at a rock concert. The sound was almost deafening–and I’m a little deaf.
I could feel the amplified beat of the drums. The stage presence of the worship leaders was precise and prepared. Their spirits were free and their words were powerful. And yet I almost found myself offended. Surprised. . .so was I. Hey, this is church, isn’t it? Yeah, but not like we do it back in Mississippi. I’m familiar with contemporary, but this is something else entirely.
I found myself having a real problem with this. I looked down and my toe was tapping the concrete floor. The more I listened, the more I smiled. The more I heard, the better I liked it. The people were telling the audience/congregation the great truth that Jesus Saves! They weren’t doing it the way I’d do it, but they were doing it, nonetheless. Their last song was a bit sedate by comparison, but still powerful with a message that drew listeners in–and then the pastor took the stage. I don’t think the walls are painted because if they were, he would have preached it off the walls. Truth without any mixture of error. Isn’t that how we’re supposed to preach? That’s what HE did.
I left that place thinking I could never worship that way every week. And the funny part is, while I was thinking that, I was rocking in my head to one of the worship songs they shared. By now, you might be thinking, I’d sure like to know more about that church. Look ’em up. They are Church by the Glades in Coral Spring, FL. Their services are on line, live.
For a moment, go somewhere else with me. About every month I get a newsletter from a local pastor warning me and all who read his letter about the dangers of the “contemporary” movement and about all the shortcomings (I’m being nice) of ministries led by men like Bill Hybels and Rick Warren. He talks about the old days, old-time religion, and how purpose-driven ministry in not from God.
I have a question? What IS the purpose of ministry? I always thought it was about leading the lost to Christ. Maybe I’m wrong (not really). Do you get my drift (I’m going to try drifting one day)? My Presbyterian friends are mostly high-church both in music and practice. My Church of God friends sway back and forth. My Methodist friends put food in backpacks for kids who otherwise won’t get to eat after school on weekends. None of them are wrong if they are preaching Jesus crucified and risen for the salvation of all men!
Sure, the practice is different, the methods vary; if they are kingdom building, I’m on their side. I don’t have time to run down those who are different than me, whether it is the color of their skin, their ethnic origin, or their bad habits (I have some of those, myself).
One of my newest “preacher-boys” posted this on Facebook yesterday, “When it comes to the Church and us living out what we believe, I’d rather we be known as lunatics than hypocrites any day of the week.” Young friend, Amen! I lost my mind a long time ago–I’m crazy about Jesus.
Guess what? I may never be a part of a dynamic church like CBG, but I like loud music.