December 18, 2017

How “Traditional” is the Traditional Service?

fumc.jpgHere in Kentucky, where the worship wars/generational church division is everywhere and spreading, many churches are attempting to navigate the rocks of a potential church split by using multiple services.

I’ve been associated with multiple services since 1984, when I joined the staff of a large church that had both an 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. service. Most of my ministry friends are involved in multiple service options and an increasing number of them are doing a “traditional” service early, and a “contemporary” or “blended” service mid-morning. I’m aware of churches doing contemporary first, or even on another day (or evening,) but the contemporary service is increasingly the “lead” service in the Baptist churches I am aware of that are trying to navigate the various divisions that are tearing many churches apart.

This Sunday I found myself at one of the larger churches in our state, a leading traditional SBC church in a downtown setting. This is a church that did well in the heyday of the SBC up into the 1980’s, but has found the waters more challenging since. A large group of younger members split from the congregation several years ago to start a Purpose Driven church plant. This only delayed the inevitable generational and stylistic stress that a church with large numbers of senior adults and an interest in reaching younger families will feel.

The most recent approach- and one that appears to be working- has been to put the “traditional” service early and to make the 11:00 a.m. service a contemporary service later.

So what do we have here? I attended the “traditional” service (an excellent time of worship where I was warmly welcomed) and here’s the scorecard, with “T” for traditional and “C” for contemporary.

Worship Space- T (The church sanctuary is typical for a downtown SBC church built in the mid-twentieth century. It has been renovated, but it’s very traditional.)

Instruments- Piano and Piper Organ, both played very well. -T

Liturgy- C (Very informal. No call to worship, no scripture readings, no Doxology, lots of walking around, ministers chatting informally. A reading of the Prayer of St. Francis was the benediction.)

Music- Interestingly, the tunes were traditional, but the lyrics were all new, so this comes off as T/C, I suppose. A solo was in the “T” category, though just barely, while a robed choir did a very contemporary chorus.

Video-C (A dramatic video clip preceded the sermon, but the screen was retracted during the sermon. No projection used at all during the sermon, which appeared to me to be a concession to the concern of some people not to replace the Bible with projection.)

Printed Material- C (A Bible between two tennis shoes was shown on the cover art of the order of service. A “Fill in the blank” sermon guide was given to everyone. Both appeared to be pre-packaged.)

Sermon- C (A prepackaged series. Verse by verse teaching, but anything requiring exposition or theological explanation beyond the basics wasn’t there. Good, practical, well-illustrated, but extremely conversational, considerably more than Rick Warren, who probably was the author of the outline.)

Invitation- C (Speaking in terms of traditional SBC invitations, it was almost a non-existent event. Good for them.)

What’s my point? First, it appears to me that the “traditional” service was pretty contemporary. In fact, if the traditionalism I was seeing is typical, then aside from the instruments and the actual music, there was little that could be called traditional other than the fact that the music and instruments weren’t offensive to those in the older generations. I believe the contrast with the contemporary service would have been more the absence of certain elements rather than the presence of anything.

Second, “traditional” apparently doesn’t mean much in the way of modest liturgical order, scripture lessons, sung responses, less conversational tone, traditional choral music or other components of traditional worship as this type of SBC church would have done it in the past. This was a service that would have seemed very informal 30 years ago.

Third, it appears to me that “contemporary” and “traditional” are not real choices, but options on a line where we’ve already capitulated to much that is contemporary, and now we’re deciding how much the band can encourage dancing in the contemporary service.

As a post-evangelical hoping for real reformation in the SBC, I lament the loss of real choices I can see in these developments. My hosts told me that the traditional service is growing, and I can see why. But I have to wonder if it occurs to anyone that we might not just be wanting something “less contemporary.” Perhaps someone is longing for real tradition, more tradition and the actual reverence for God and reality of God that comes with the best fruits of tradition.

The “traditional” service is still waiting to reappear in most churches. It’s been obscured by the church growth focus, revivalism and wrong ideas about worship and evangelism as much as by the Purpose Driven movement, the Seeker Sensitive movement and the emerging church. I believe there are many people who are seeing a side to the “contemporary” direction of their worship that reveals its inherent tenuous, shallow, trendy nature. They will show up at the “traditional” option.

Perhaps the real innovation for most churches would be to re-embrace the best of their own tradition and the Christian tradition together.

Comments

  1. Some very interesting observations. It is interesting that they are using a Rick Warren canned sermon when their splinter group was Warrenite. I know you did not verify the source, but even a knock-off is just as bad. As a new pastor I work on understanding how I lead a service. My congregation has had many pastors (ministry service mode is 5 years). They are very tolerant, which is good for me. It allows me the latitude to run a Tennenbrae type service on Good Friday instead of the standard Jesus rose on Good Friday.

    One question, what do you consider to be the part most worth keeping in contemporary, traditional and ancient liturgies? (As in one from each)

  2. It wasn’t a canned sermon, but I believe the series topic and outline + media is in a set. The pastor preached his own message, but I’d bet the main points are in the package. I don’t know for sure.

    The splinter was several years ago when it appeared to me the church wasn’t able to process the diversity as well as they are now, which is primarily because of the pastor’s ability to appeal to both.

  3. Here in bizarro world, we have university band composed of cello, mandolin, congas, and accustic guitar which has brought songs like “And Can It Be” “Be Thou My Vision” “How Sweet and Awful is the Place”, back to our 155 year old church, but hey are labeled “contemporary” by some folks in Burtonia.

    What say you, Michael? Is that a T or a C?

  4. T, because that isn’t a contemporary praise band, but an ensemble made up of instruments in the congregation playing classic music.

    I realize some would say anything with a drum is C, and anything not piano or organ is C. I disagree.

  5. Some interesting thoughts. Personally I love traditional services and there is just something about a liturgy that I find absolutely beautiful. However, there are things about a modern, culturally relevant (in an American context)churches that prevent me from ever going back to a traditional church environment.

    For me it boils down to life change. If the teaching is Biblical, conversions are happening, and people are experiencing life change then I put my preferences behind me and focus on the mission Jesus has charged us with.

    In summary
    Go into all the world
    Baptize them
    Teach them

    Now before I close this comment I must readily admit. My previous experience with traditional churches has jaded me. There was zero evangelisim and discipleship. Which means zero life change.

  6. Marc Anderson says:

    Michael:

    As as an estranged Episcopalian currently engaged in a Presbyterian church, I can’t speak for you Baptists on a lot of issues, But I can relate a past Anglican teaching that I hope shed can some light on this mystery; that is, that the following three things working in tension with one another are what holds together the church: Faith, Scripture, Tradition.

    Remembering that tension is a binding force, it kind of makes sense doesn’t it? Kick out on of the legs of the stool and you really do have unstable situation.

    This, I think, is why you’re seeing the conditions you’ve observed.

  7. Fr. Mike Creson says:

    I can be happy with most any kind of liturgy done well. From Gregorian chant to a Fender telecaster, it can all be done with reverence and active participation. In good Catholic worship all are trying to sing, guests feel welcome, there is decent preaching, ministers of music and liturgy are prepared, and the priest is praying the ancient liturgy that belongs to the whole church. It is not just the latest whim of the celebrant. I must admit my own whims have been more than a few over the years. You want to bring timeless words forward without your personality overbearing the Mass. Parishioners respond to the enthusiasm of those leading worship. Young people want to be involved in the service whether it is traditional or contemporary. I think contemporary services simply offer many more opportunities for young people.

  8. Michael, what would a perfect service look like to you? If you could design a worship service, sound theological preaching a given, what would it look like?

  9. I really wouldn’t ever use the concept of a “perfect” worship service. Everyone I know who would pursue that goal pretty much is running a museum.

    There are elements that I would want to see:

    1. Use instruments from the culture played by people from the congregation.

    2. Culturally expressing worship in a spirit of excellence but with an appreciation of local culture.

    3. Orderly according to Biblical elements of worship. These would include: Call to worship. Confession. Praise. Scripture reading. Silence. Testimony. Reciting confessions and/or Scripture responsively. Prayer.

    4. Preaching in a spirit of seriousness, exultation and application.

    5. The celebration of the Lord’s Supper at least monthly or more and Baptism when appropriate.

    6. A mixture of old and new in worship music, with a strong bias toward tradition and heritage that honors the Gospel and teaches sound doctrine.

  10. Fremen_Warrior66 says:

    I attend a Church of Christ that’s based on the movement started by Thomas Campbell, Walter Scott, and Barton W. Stone.

    I’m just a recent high school graduate and I’m not too knowledgeable about the overall state of our tradition of Christianity. However, listening to conversations between older family members who have been in leadership positions, the problem of multiple services is common in Churches of Christ as well.

    Churches of Christ are infamous for splitting up. They split up over changes in eldership, replacing the traditional songbook with a new one, and most often from friction between two groups of church leaders and their respective followers.

    Churches of Christ traditionally don’t use musical instruments (for some time it was thought to be sinful to do so, although that conception isn’t widely believed anymore). Instead, we sing A Capella, usually with five part harmonies. I love this tradition and its one that the Churches of Christ are likely to not give up.

    The so called “contemporary” services these churches have, usually involve a worship team ( a group of singers up on stage with mics) and the social acceptability of raising hands during worship (i know it’s ridiculous). The traditional service has a single song leader up on stage waving his hands and people are either standing or sitting while singing.

    That’s the only difference in the two. Everything else is the same. The lord’s supper is given every week and is accompanied by a scripture reading and a short insight provided by a man from the congregation. The collection is taken. The preacher gets up and reads the passage he’s going to be preaching on and then he preaches. We sing some more and then there’s a closing prayer and benediction.

    A large majority of the Churches of Christ congregations are so concerned with their own adherence to tradition that they split up their communities for silly things like raising hands and having people up on stage singing.

    I think its pitiful. There are times when a strict adherence to tradition can be more damaging to a community of faith than spiritually uplifting.

  11. Mike Taylor says:

    I do find it odd that we spend so much time arguing about whether we should have old or new songs in our churches. Surely the issue is not old vs. new, but good vs. bad. There are plenty of old songs with lots of solid content (And Can It Be) but also plenty with nearly none (… And Now I Am Happy All The Day). Similarly there are excellent new songs (In Christ Alone) and vacuous new songs (I hardly need list these 🙂 I want the GOOD songs in my church!

  12. Michael, thanks for a good reflection. I am Bible college prof teaching in the area of music and worship, and as such have a unique opportunity to see how various churches do things. My background is the Stone/Campbell Restoration Movement, and the issues you periodically raise about worship are pretty much identical in our “tribe” (to use Leonard Sweet’s phrase). I have been doing an interim preaching ministry at a country church of about 75 people, but my “home” church is a suburban megachurch of about 3,000. It is quite interesting to see the differences between the two places, and how they approach worship.

    When it comes to traditional worship, I believe we all think of “traditional” as it was in the 1950’s. I wonder how radical it would be to get REALLY traditional and start incorporating elements from the early church. But then again, that would require church leaders to actually know something about the early church.

    Here are two questions, off-topic, that I wonder if you would address:

    1. I don’t presume to speak for anyone else, but I’ll be many people who read your site regularly wonder: Why haven’t you published a book? You have so much good material, and so much to offer. Have you thought about going down that avenue?

    2. Would you please take some time and distill for all of us your reading habits – how you get through so much material, whether you “speed read,” what your process is for selecting books, etc. That would be really helpful.

  13. Matt Maestas says:

    Doesn’t much of this conversation hinge upon whether we consider our services to be for the believer or the unbeliever?

    If we consider our weekly meeting to be a time when God’s people come together to worship, learn from the Word and commune with Him corporately, then having a service that “appeals” to the community would take a back seat to a service that seeks to lead the “believer” into communion with God.

    Just some thoughts

  14. Perhaps I’m just someone young, just getting started in ministry with stars in his eyes, but it seems like these sorts of issues don’t really matter. As far as I can tell god cares more about your heart than your mode of worship. I was just reading in Isaiah and Hosea yesterday about God being pretty upset with the people for practicing their “traditional” forms of worship when their hearts were far from him. I think if we love God we can seek out how he wants us to worship him together. I think corporate worship has much more to do with how we live our lives with each other the rest of the week rather than whether or not there is a guitar player on Sunday morning.

  15. William Geoffrey Smith says:

    Everybody knows that the best songs for worship are the ones with rocking solos. Just ask Spinal Tap. If there is no place for a rocking solo, then the theology of the writer is bad. If they had been reading the psalms they’d know that “selah” is a place for no singing, just solos. And besides……

    Anyway, the distinction between good and bad songs is probably the right one to make. There are some real stinkers sung in churches these days, but some really good new stuff exists as well. The reason it seems like a lot of old ones are really good is that we’ve picked the best over 1400 or so years.

    The sad thing is that a lot of the more doctrinally sound, Christ centered songs come from the bands that play in venues, not in front of churches. Even the songs about girls typically come from a Christian worldview, unless they are showing why man’s ways are flawed. I met the guys from Edison Glass and one of them was doing his evening devotion from Spurgeon. The guys from mewithoutYou read Kierkegaard, Yoder, Ellul, and Clairborne and the guys from Coolhandluke read guys like Piper and Edwards. Guys I know in worship bands read….watch TV. That might point to the bad songs selected/written. The rock stars read like worship leaders, the worship leaders read like rock stars. Go figure.

  16. Gee Michael, I don’t know. What you labeled as “contemporary” doesn’t really seem contemporary. Is it contemporary to have no call to worship? My tradition (another Stone-Campbell-Church-of-Christ guy) was very loose on that. Some churches had em, some didn’t. When I first started at my present congregation, we didn’t have a call to worship. I introduced one and suddenly that was contemporary! Now we don’t do it and that is contemporary! Which is which? “Contemporary” has become a very relative term, it seems.

    I guess the phrases: traditional vs. contemporary have become a boomer construct, now. A lot of the Emergent stuff I’m seeing is returning to a more liturgical bent (with a bit more flexibility). I find I’m drawn to Fr. Mike Creson’s observations about his Catholic liturgy.

    So here am I, rambling. Good post and discussion though. However, (forgive my cynicism) I can’t help wonder if the truly exploding-in-growth-discipleship churches (Chinese underground house churches, churches in Muslim countries, etc.)would look at these discussions and just shake their heads in disbelief at how important we make these issues.

  17. Nicholas Anton says:

    In the Corinthian Church, just thirty years following the death and resurrection of Christ, Paul already encountered a situation that needed to be addressed and rectified, namely, that of “abuses at the Lord’s Table”, or the Love Feast as it was called, which seemed to have been the main church function of that time. By calling it a love feast, one would suppose that love were present, and yet, according to Paul’s description of it, very little love seemed to exist. The assembly was divided into cliques. Some attendees were drinking to excess (perhaps, as suggested by Geisler, to get them into the right mood for praise and worship as practiced by some of the contemporary Greek mystery cults). Others were glutinous. All the while, others, (probably the poor) had nothing, and were watching those who had. Why were these abuses so serious?
    The situation at Corinth was quite different from that at Jerusalem because the Corinthian church obviously did not practice communal living (having all things in common) as did the church at Jerusalem. Otherwise, why would Paul have told them to eat and drink at home if they had “all things in common”? 1 Cor. 11:22;
    Hence, the Corinthian “love feast” was not a regular meal of necessity, a normal response to hunger as is regular eating, but one set apart for other purposes. Nor was it exclusively a symbolic meal of commemoration and edification. Irregardless, how it had begun and whatever it was to have signified, it had degenerated from what it was to signify into a meal of self indulgence. It neither commemorated the body and blood of Christ accurately (it was divided, not united), nor acknowledge His “body, the, church, but rather, promoted individualism (cliques) and self gratification (eating and drinking to excess, including drunkenness).
    Many contemporary interpretations of this passage seem to imply that the sins addressed by Paul were internal, unresolved, un-forgiven personal sins and unforgiving attitudes in the individuals, rather than corporate and individual, outward, selfist, self indulging, self gratifying, loveless, divisive attitudes and actions that some might even have deemed to be necessary for praise and worship. Even when considered from this second perspective, many expositors tend to overlook the problem of intoxication from liquor or some other form of inebriants or intoxicants used to bring one into a seeming required/desired emotional/spiritual state of worship, as well as worship and praise for the sake of self gratification. One could therefore, on the basis of these suppositions conjecture that Paul should have instructed the fellowshipping believers, that since all food and drink are of equal worth, and because there seemed to have been so much of it around, to solve the problems that existed, by encouraging everyone, especially those who had much, to bring what ever they had, so that everyone could share and enjoy equally with those who did not have. Yet, this is not what happened. The Word of God as given to us by Paul instructed the church to remove “all” food and drink for satisfying the appetite from this so called “love feast”, with the exception of the symbols, the bread and the wine. He instructed the people that if they wanted to eat and drink, they could do so at home. 1Co. 11:20-22;
    Why? Because the theme and focus of our commemoration, and subsequent praise and worship is not to be self gratification, eating and drinking, nor psycho/spiritual/emotional and physical fulfillment, but Jesus Christ. Is it therefore possible that, like the Corinthian church, when we “…come together therefore into one place, this is not to worship and praise” For in worshipping every one taketh before others his own form of worship: and one is hungry (for the Word), and another is drunken (on the music)”?

  18. nicholas

    while i do not disagree with the thrust of your argument, I do disagree with your reading of the text. paul is not telling them to give up the love feast (or pot luck meal)–he is telling them to wait for each other before eating. there is no prohibition in 1 corinthians 11 against eating during the supper–the prohibition is abuse of the body of christ–failure to take note of the body (not the elements–but those who are the body of christ, the local fellowship). if you are that hungry and can’t wait–then eat at home. the issue (as seen in the entire book) is that of division and self-centeredness. the poor are being neglected and embarrassed because they come with nothing to eat and they leave hungry and humiliated.

    i would be very careful about allegorizing 1 cor. 11.

    now having said that–your point is still well taken. i think we’re overdoing this whole issue and it is beginning to take on a narcisistic flavor–(and i am as guilty as everyone else in this regard.)

  19. To William Geoffrey Smith,

    i didn’t know that about mewithoutYou and cool hand luke. they are two of my favorite bands. they’re incredible musicians and writers. i’ve never been to a mewithoutyou show, but i’ve been to 3 cool hand luke shows and each time mark (lead singer) has taken time out to talk about how they are, what they’re about and about the message of Christ. these guys are for real and have great things to say. those two bands have helped my walk with Christ immensely.

  20. Nicholas Anton says:

    Darryl

    I am not allegorizing 1 Cor. 11. The implication of
    1Co 11:20-22; is not to “share and share alike and enjoy”, but to remove physical “self gratification” FROM THE LORD’S TABLE. All that is left after these verses is the instruction to partake of the bread and wine TOGETHER, in memory of Jesus’ broken body and shed blood! The separation of the Lord’s table from eating and drinking for self gratification is quite obvious.

  21. I’ve learned that people who prefer “traditional”, don’t really want old school, they want what they’ve done for the last five years. Appealing to the past doesn’t get you very far, surprisingly, with the older generation.

    I don’t know how many times we’ve introduced a “new” song that was written 300 years ago. It doesn’t matter if its an “old” song, if they don’t know it, it might as well be a Passion song.

    KBH

  22. Good observation. There is a kind of “traditionalism” that is a cultural comfort zone, and not a return to tradition.

  23. John Richie says:

    My family, generations ago was a branch of the Presbyterian church that did not like hymns in worship. They believed that hymns watered down the word and represented an inappropriate compromise with the culture. For a generation or two, our family has names like Issac Watts as some ancestor showed which side of the controversy they supported by how they named their children.
    The point is that controversy about worship is not new or unusual. Our traditions are the innovations of past generations. We must be very sure that we are clear on the difference in our comfort and our theology. They are very different. Comfort can(and probably should) be compromised but not theology. They should never be confused.

  24. Camassia says:

    Regarding Matt Maestas’ comment above, I visited a lot of different churches in my time as a seeker, and I don’t think it’s necessary to adjust the liturgy to make people feel welcome. Actually, about a year ago I wrote about what personally makes me feel welcome or unwelcome at church, and none of it had to do with liturgy. The Eastern Orthodox church I went to was quite friendly, and of course the liturgy was as traditional as all get-out.

    The church I’ve been attending the last few years, which is Mennonite, used to be pretty standard-evangelical but it’s been moving towards making liturgy more traditional. An old-timer there said it was because they wanted to make the service more participatory. The result is actually a lot like Michael’s ideal service, except that confession is only on Lent and a few other occasions. It doesn’t exactly feel “traditional” though, in the sense of doing something that has been done for generations, because it hasn’t been done for generations. That type of traditionalism may be impossible for modern Protestants.

    I’m not picky about music but I do think that churches shouldn’t have a full-on rock band unless the sanctuary has appropriate acoustics. I heard a rock band in a hundred-year-old Quaker meeting house once, and it was an abomination.

  25. nicholas,
    agreed the self-gratification issue is dominant. we don’t totally disagree–it’s a matter of minor emphasis. however, i think there is a tendency to create a dichotomy between “physical” and “spiritual.” pinching a piece of bread and sipping wine never was the focus of the supper. it was truly a supper. paul does in no way suggest they should relegate the supper to a ritualistic shadow of a meal as is observed by many churches today. paul’s main thrust is the self-centeredness and divisivness that is demonstrated by those who don’t seem to care about the poor (generally slaves) who come in late with little or no food to add to the feast. those who have already eaten and have been satiated have not “discerned the body” which in context is the gathering of believers (if you keep the passage in the middle of 1 Corinthians 10 and 1 Corinthians 12 where “body” is primarily referring to the group of believers). that is my point.

    perhaps “allegorizing” is too strong. but i’m not certain you were comparing apples to apples when you said: “For in worshipping every one taketh before others his own form of worship: and one is hungry (for the Word), and another is drunken (on the music)”?” You added “the Word” and “the music.” But that wasn’t paul’s point, was it? so maybe not allegory, but certainly not appropriate application of text. i just don’t think your application is a natural extension of paul’s point.

  26. nicholas,
    go ahead and respond if you wish, but i think i’m pulling the discussion away from the central point of the blog so i won’t continue.

    you get the last word on this one if you want it.

    sorry if i got anyone off on a rabbit chase.

  27. Using “traditional” to describe Protestant Worship in America is kinda silly. A good portion of the hymns sung are from either the 19th or early 20th centuries, there’s little or no liturgy, and even organs only became fixtures in the late medieval period. The current style of worship in the majority of Protestant Churches was really only finalized during and in the years following WWII, with some elements of the previous 100 years. Doing any cursory reading of Protestant Worship earlier than that is like stepping into another world that people who like “traditional” worship wouldn’t even recognize (and even that’s “Separatist Protestant,” not “Traditional”). I tend to call typical Protestant worship, “Leave It to Beaver” worship because that’s the era it sprang up in.

    Likewise, calling “contemporary” worship “contemporary” is a misnomer – as that style really cropped up in the 1970’s. It’s 37 years old, which is hardly “contemporary.” I tend to call it “contemporary-ish” as the form is 37 years old (and aging fast), but it still makes room for new elements of communication to be included when them become available (and just like with “traditional” worship, the worth of their use is related to how the people make use of them – a poorly used screen or video clip is just like a badly played organ or piano).

    What’s worse is taking these two forms and saying it’s, “blended.” At most, 75 years of worship practice is being included (really it’s less than that, but I’ll make room for the tent-meetings of the 20’s and 30’s in this) – this leaves over 1900 years of Christian worship out of the equation in the “blending.” Oops.

  28. wezlo,

    i think you nailed it.

  29. Wezlo,

    For almost 7 years I’ve pursued the post evangelical vision of real tradition. As regular readers of this blog know, I’ve come back to my SBC roots out of necessity. I won’t run the links. I’ll just say that your post reads like what I’ve written 100x on this blog.

    For a year I tried to pursue this in worship in a home fellowship and God simply slammed the door.

    I’m back in the SBC and the discussion isn’t going to be about ancient tradition EXCEPT to the extent that comes in with ME as a part of these church communities.

    So please understand that I agree with you, but that revolution isn’t happening in the SBC except by the smallest of increments, and this blog is dedicated to that task.

  30. Michael, I understand – just keep putting scare-quotes around “traditional” and “contemporary” when you say the terms and maybe someone will eventually ask you why you do that. Of course my first comment on worship to the search committee that brought me here was, “I like hymns, played on electric guitars.” It’s still a mystery how on earth I got called here…

  31. If you want Traditional, try the local Missouri Synod Lutheran Church!

  32. Suzanne says:

    I just found this blog. Interesting thing I’ve noticed about this “traditional” vs. “contemporary” worship is that, in my circle of friends and acquaintances, it’s the 45 – 55 age group that really wants the rock band kind of contemporary worship services. My children, ages 18 and 20, hate, and I cannot stress this enough, HATE Christian rock and Christian rap and absolutely do not want it in church. They are both involved in campus ministry organizations in their schools, but it was a struggle to find those that didn’t revolve around what they call “Be-bopping for God”. They, and some of their friends, equate so-called contemporary worship with a bunch of middle agers trying to reclaim their youth.

  33. Suzanne,
    Wow. I was a youth minister for 18 years. I am a “pastor” (we don’t call them that in my fellowship) and have been in this role for 11 years now. I think your observation is very close to my own. However I never thought about your last sentence until you articulated it so well. “They, and some of their friends, equate so-called contemporary worship with a bunch of middle agers tryng to reclaim their youth.” Ouch, ouch, ouch!

    Thanks for the observation!

  34. Suzanne says:

    You are welcome. I’m just calling it like I see it. When, oh when, will we stop trying to make being a Christian “cool”?

  35. “..reality of God that comes with the best fruits of tradition.” I like the way you stated that, because not all fruits of tradition are good. Sometimes traditions can distract from the working of the Spirit.

  36. Greetings Fellow Christians,
    I have been the ‘good’ kid through my life. I was rarely invited to any ‘party.’ The pull of temptation has always been there, some people feel it others ignore it and some fall into it. Whenever I was somewhere or around someone doing something ‘wrong or bad’ I felt as if God were telling me that something was bad. When I graduated from high school the attack increased. Trying to ‘let your light shine’ in the darkness of the world can become very exhausting. When I started teaching Sunday School to the Teenagers, the pull increased again. Each time I accepted a task in my church, the temptation level increased and God’s strength and comfort increased too. My sister invited my family to the dedication of her new child. This dedication was in her new church. I love my sister and accepted her invitation. She had been attending this church for about a year. I did not know much about this church except that she enjoyed going there.
    Well cutting to my point, the moment that I stepped into that church, I felt as if God was warning me. As if He was preparing me for some event that would require much more than my human strength was able to provide. That church was every bit as contemporary as any other contemporary church could be. About the only things I recognized was (1) the short period of ‘meeting everyone, (2) the offering collection, and (3) the pastor waiting at the door when the services were over. Needless to say, after being with my sister and loving the new baby, my wife and family left. The talk on the ride home was almost unbelievable. My oldest child Chris was 14 at the time. He was very upset. He said he did not want to ever go back there. He said that some of his ‘friends’ went to churches like that one but that they were not really ‘good.’
    The next Sunday, we were back at our church. The traditional service was so refreshing. I could feel that God was there right beside me, repairing the world’s wear on my body. I was being renewed by God’s worship and the fellowship of other Christians. The next couple of months were sort of strained, my sister called and invited us back to a couple of events (45 mile drive) to her church. My son insisted that he did not want to go back to that church. My sister stayed at that church for another year and a half, she now attends a traditional church.
    I can not help but be reminded that (1) God states what is to be accepted as worship (2) God is only present when the worship is acceptable to Him (3) that the worship be reverent and ordered, and (4) be not of this world.