Know Your Bible

VOL. 5                           May 7, 2006                           NO. 16

 ROCK MUSIC PACKS THE PEWS

    Attendance sagging? Experiencing the "graying out" of the local flock? The Rev. Paige Blair can take care of your woes by rejuvenating the worship service where you attend! Her worship format will have the parishioners dancing by the altar! She has done "wonders" for some Episcopal congregations in the United States and the same revival could benefit your church!

    Recent news stories have detailed a new strategy being used to reinvigorate stagnating congregations of the Episcopal denomination in this nation. Paige Blair, an Episcopal parish priest, has created a worship format which weaves songs by the rock band U2 into the liturgy. The objective of this strategy is to attract young people and social activists to congregations dwindling in size and aging in their demographics. U2 was probably selected as the rock band of choice for a couple of reasons. First, the lyrics of many U2 songs make references to the Bible and religion. Second, U2's lead singer Bono is an advocate of efforts to alleviate global poverty and thus the band appeals to social activists.

    If judged by increased attendance to eucharist services, these rock-n-roll worship services are a resounding success. Worshipers bothered by the volume of the music are offered ear plugs. Plasma-screen televisions, streamers in the "sanctuaries" and flourescent glow sticks wielded by worshipers complete the ambiance of the worship service.

    Not everyone is totally thrilled with these changes. Some of U2's song lyrics apparently express doubt and anger about the fact that God allows human suffering. Some worshipers are puzzled as "traditional rock'n'rollers -- they swear, drink, and sing about sex."

    The Episcopalians are only doing on a small scale what mega-churches are doing on a larger scale. Find out what "un-churched" people want and give it to them in religious packaging. The Episcopalians are clearly amateurs in this arena. Think of the possibilities! Churches on the "go" could integrate some connection to current entertainment interests into "worship" services. We've missed "March Madness," the recent college basketball tournament, but the NBA finals would work just as well. Surely we could find some basketball player with an emotionally-evoking religious experience to highlight each week in the sermon. The congregation could post game results in the bulletin and playoff stats on a large bulletin board in the auditorium. Worshipers could even develop closer relationships to one another as they speculate about which team will be eliminated this week. Just think about what could be done with NASCAR (instead of the twelve apostles, the young people could memorize the top twelve drivers on the circuit this week)! Don't forget the "Football in the Fall" evangelism campaign! I wonder if we could get Hank Williams, Jr. to do a rendition of "Are you ready for worship?" that could be played before each worship service? Did I mention "American Idol"?

    The marketing strategy of "give them what they want" employed by some churches is a far cry from the reverent, God-centered worship offered by early Christians. There is a complete paradigm shift from offering praise according to divine instructions to the entertainment and gratification of worldly "worshipers." For many churches, it's not about honoring God, but "packing the pews." In the rush to fill church buildings, people forget to listen to what God has to say about acceptable worship (Col. 3:17; Jn. 4:24).

    The church of the New Testament was not concerned with "marketing strategies." The early Christians "went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts. 8:4). The apostle Paul identified the gospel of Christ as the "the power of God to salvation" and wrote of his determination to appeal to the Corinthians on that basis only (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 2:1-5). Apparently he did not understand the effectiveness of presenting biblical truths in the lyrics of rock and roll, but instead instructed early Christians to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19). The "give them what they want" strategy will fill church buildings with bodies, but won't produce spiritually-minded disciples of Christ (Rom. 8:29).

---Allen Dvorak

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THIS & THAT: If you were listening to CNN Headline News (3/27/06) and heard the Nancy Grace segment of it, you were treated to a travesty of misinformation as Nancy sought information about the church of Christ from Tom Rukala, a Baptist preacher. This came about as a result of the tragedy occurring at Selmer, Tennessee in which a minister's wife has been charged with his death.

    Mr. Rukala told Nancy that the church of Christ "is a legalist sect." That's no new charge for when Paul stood trial before Felix, Tertullus, the Jew's lawyer, charged Paul with being "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes," and Paul confessed "that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the law and written in the prophets," (Acts 24:5,14). Paul didn't acknowledge being a member of a sect but to a group "which they call a sect." Who charged that Paul was a member of a sect? A lawyer who was just as ignorant of what Paul believed and taught as Rukala is of us! Note that Paul said; "believing everything laid down by the law and the prophets." Is this what makes one a part of a "legalistic sect?" If so, the Baptist church surely isn't one because one can follow every New Testament directive and it won't make him a Baptist!

    Rukala is just as far off base about church history as he is about Biblical teaching. If Campbell started the church 150 years ago, how did Paul send greeting from "churches of Christ" (Rom. 16:16) to the Roman saints and since the Lord "added the saved to the church" (Acts 2:47) on Pentecost, whose church was it? And as to the validity of baptism depending upon being baptized by one of "their preachers," it may surprise Mr. Rukala to learn that Alexander Campbell was baptized by Mathias Luce, a Baptist preacher!!!

    As to our use of "intimidation and pressure tactics, " we promise to give book, chapter and verse for what we teach and practice in religion (1 Pet. 4:11) and call upon others to do the same and that's intimidating to a denominational preacher! He can't do it.

---Lowel Blasingame

via STAND, April 2006)

 

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***SENTENCE  SERMONS*** 

Money may be used as a universal passport to every where except heaven,

and a provider for nearly everything except happiness.

*****

Many so-called Christians are like the farmer's pond:

dried up in the summer and frozen in the winter.

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