If you only read a little bit of this, let it be the first and last titled paragraphs.
This is the Face of Christianity
These are the most recognizable faces from TBN, the “America’s most watched faith channel.” Not having cable, I find myself watching this network disturbingly often. I enjoy the appearances by Mr. T, Deion Sanders, M.C. Hammer, and John Tesh. The TV personalities sit on gold thrones and interview Christian celebrities and ask viewers to call for prayer. I have no problem with prayer, music, or using the medium of Television to spread the word of God. My problem is with the current way that it is being done. The picture that the world sees of Christians, is one of pink-haired women crying their mascara into streaks while they sit on gold thrones. According to TBN Christians are uber-conservative losers with bad taste in music, drama, and decorating. I don’t know any Christian that acts the way some of the people do on that network. The only good thing that I have seen is Kirk Cameron and his Australian friend teaching people “The Way of the Master” which sounds like some sort of Kung-Fu movie, but is actually a way to talk to non-believers about Jesus…it is pretty good. The more I read Relevant Magazine and the more I learn about the way that Christians can interact with culture, the more I realize that there needs to be some serious change. TBN is not Christianity as a whole. It is a wierd conservative evangelical off-shoot that squanders money, misrepresents our Lord and does a disservice to believers and non-believers alike.
Praise and Worship Music
I have always loved the Organ. I love the way the low notes shake the Pew and rumble your heart. I love old Hymns, I have formulated the opinion that the music and memorable tunes touch the heart like nothing else can, and the well-thought lyrics touch the mind. The power of such amazing music and Lyrics make the Worship experience complete for me. In choir, when we would sing an old solid hymn like “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” With Giant Organ blowing every possible note, and all the members of the choir singing as loud as they possibly could without it being shouting, the song would literally make me tremble and bring tears to my eyes. If you look at the lyrics of the hymn mentioned above or “And Can it be That I should Gain?” or pretty much anything by Charles Welsey, you can’t help but notice the beauty of the word’s themselves. This is Praise and Worship music! This is the Utmost for His Highest!
The Place for CCM
I realize that contemporary Christian music sung in a lot of churches and chapels serves a different purpose than these old songs. It gets people’s heads out of Hymnals and up to a screen, it reaches those who aren’t familiar with the old hymns, it is easy to catch on to, and easy to play. Instruments such as guitar, drums, keyboard, bass, etc can be added and attract a whole different audience who might never be interested in “traditional” church music.
My Stance on CCM
What I do not understand is why anyone would want to trade in the previously mentioned, earth-shaking hymns for songs with such shallow lyrics as “Cry of My Heart” or “Open the Eyes of My Heart”. I Think that the Tunes of the old hyms are just as catchy, if not more so, than any praise song. I also believe that the Music that we play at worship services should be our best. An electronic drum-set being played by an inexperienced 25 year old, or an out of tune guitar played by a man who only knows a few chords is not our best. We should have music that is worthy to be played to the ears of our Lord. (I do believe that god loves all praise no matter if it is out of tune, as long as it is heartfelt, and I think that bad music is better than no music at all, but I think you get my point) We can So better, and we should want to do better.
I like having a sanctuary, I like stained glass, I believe that the house of God is a Holy place that should feel as such. I am turned off my gymnasiums, and malls that function as places of Worship (I realize that God dwells everywhere, but this is just my personal preference) I want to worship in a place that architecturally promotes the worship of God. I have always loved the history that is held within the wals of a church. Carved wood, stained glass, steeples, organ pipes. There is something about it (even if it is in a new church) that makes the weight of God and his presence more tangible. God is Beautiful and I believe his house should also be. For me the comfort is in the churchy-ness. Some find comfort in rooms that can function as basketball court, theatre for plays, or mixers for singles. But I want to worship in a Church, a Cathedral, a building in which every detail is thought out and specifically crafted to enhance the worship experience, from carvings to acoustics, from seating to ventilation.
Having belonged to the same Church all my life, I know many other members, and they know me. Whenever I go home, people ask me about my life, and are genuinely interested in what I have been up to. I do the same. My church is an extended family who has watched me grow, has prayed me individually, and has committed to caring for me. My church is small, and becoming smaller and I do think that plays a factor. I do see how large mega-churches can make people feel at home. How can a faceless mass watch to make sure that you are following the Lord? How can a place with such a rotating cast of preachers, speakers, and song-leaders care for you as an individual? I know that some of these churches have small groups that help to bring smaller groups of people together, but that doesn’t do it for me. I want a church that wants to know me, and wants to be part of my family.
The Church Ideal
It may sound as though I am stuck in a rut myself, fully enjoying the closed-minded, change-resisting, pew-sitting, non-movie-going, suit-wearing, non-clapping, stone-faced, traditional church of the old Dutch forefathers who planted the first CRC in America. But I am far from it. I do not think that this is acceptable. I believe that the Church should interact with the community and become a force within it. It should interact with culture, popular media, politics, and every other part of everyday life. It should embrace everyone equally and try to help all sinners to find Jesus and follow his will. It should not fear change but also not change for the sake of change. It should make all people feel welcome and comfortable. It should use technology in a benneficial and appropriate manner, and use it effectively. The Music should be beautiful, catchy, thoughtful, and well-played. The Sanctuary should feel Sacred. The people should be like family. And God’s Presence should be evident in every aspect.
Ok, I have been wanting to get that out of my system for a long time…I am pretty sure that most people won’t even read it, but for those of you who did, thank you and let me know what you think.