The Gospel Breaks Down Barriers, Even Musical Prefernces

Which more clearly communicates the Gospel? A church that has two services--one contemporary and one traditional--or one that has one blended service?

Tullian Tchividjian gives a good answer. The entire post is here.

You see, when we separate people according to something as trivial as musical preferences, we evidence a fundamental failure to comprehend the heart of the gospel. We’re not only feeding toxic tribalism; we’re also saying the gospel can’t successfully bring these two different groups together. It’s a declaration of doubt about the unifying power of God’s gospel. Generational appeal in worship is an admission that the gospel is powerless to join together what man has separated.

In Paul’s day the world was rigidly divided between Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female. Those walls of separation were thick, and the groups on each side were hostile. But that didn’t stop Paul from boldly proclaiming God’s intention to establish a new community—the church—that not only included all these but also allowed them to enjoy deeply interdependent relationships. As Paul argued for the Gentiles’ place in God’s redemptive plan, he said, “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon him” (Romans 10:12). As Paul decried certain Jewish leaders for teaching that the sign of circumcision was a condition for justification, he wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). And when he addressed class distinctions threatening to divide the church, he asserted our newness in Christ, in which “there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). If he were writing to the 21st Century church you could almost hear him say, “There is neither ‘traditional’ nor ‘contemporary’ worship; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The primary reason, though, that stylistic segregation in worship shrinks our souls is because it prevents us from knowing God deeply. The only way to know him deeply is to have many different types of Christian people in your life, since each person will help to reveal a part of God that you can’t see by yourself. This means the great tragedy of segregation isn’t so much that we see less of each other but that in separating from each other we see less of God. All of us need other lights than our own to see more of his myriad facets.

So, we miss out on some great things God intends for us to enjoy when we separate in worship according to musical tastes. The idea to do this comes, not from the Bible, but from American consumerism and we adopt this practice to our own peril.

As my friend Steven Phillips rightly says, we ought to use the best music, prayers, and traditions of our Christian past, so that our worship is guided and enriched by our fathers in the faith. In doing this we demonstrate that our Christian faith reaches back thousands of years. And we ought also to use the best new songs and styles – to “sing a new song to the Lord” as the Psalms say – so that we can demonstrate that the grace of God is ever new. God’s saving power is available now, in the present day, to all who call on Him in faith.

By musically blending things in this way we exercise love toward those who resonate with different musical tastes than us. We recognize that our worship service is a shared time and a shared space, so that if a particular song or style doesn’t inspire us, we can still look across the sanctuary and give thanks from our hearts for the diversity of people who are here. The gospel of Jesus Christ invites us to look across the aisle and say, “Though this song or style may not appeal to me, I see that God is using it to move you. I love you in Christ and I’m glad you’re here.”

Pastors, Beware of Getting Too Big

Carl Trueman gives an excellent warning to the dangers of becoming so big as a pastor that you may not be able to truly be called a pastor anymore.

Before and above all else, pastors are shepherds to real sheep. Lord, keep me from ever being too big.

Read the whole post here. (No, really read it)

First, I am immensely grateful that I have only ever held membership in churches of a size where the pastor has always been accessible and available. Indeed, my pastors have always even known my name, my wife's name, my kids' names, and even what sports they play (this latter may seem trivial but it has been peculiarly important to me: my kids may not always enjoy going to church; but they have never doubted that the pastor actually cares for them; and that is something for which I am more grateful than I can articulate). Indeed, each of my pastors has cared about his people, not as a concept or a good idea or as an indeterminate mass, but as real, particular people with names and histories and strengths and weaknesses; and this surely reflects the character and love of God who, after, calls his sheep by name and cares for us all as individuals. If I gave you the names of said pastors, few reading this post would ever have heard of them: they have written no books; they have never pulled in huge crowds; and they have never spoken at megaconferences. But they have always been there when even the humblest church member has called out for advice, counsel or even help with bailing out a flooded basement.


What Is The Bible About?

Tim Keller answers very eloquently and biblically,


Relevance vs. Trendiness

Churches should pursue the former and abstain from the latter.

Brandon J. O'Brien explains the difference in The Strategically Small Church :

True relevance is being sensitive to the culture or subculture in which you are ministering and incarnating your ministry in your specific location. It is vital that a church be relevant by that definition...

Trendiness, by contrast, is applying a strategy that is foreign to your personality and mission for no other reason than to draw a crowd. The worst thing a small church can do is try to reach people by pretending to be like them. A church should welcome everyone; however, they shouldn't become everyone. A young person will be open to hearing the gospel from a fifty year-old pastor who speaks and dresses in a way befitting a fifty year-old man, if--and this is a big "if"--that pastor and his church show genuine concern for that young person. But this same visitor will smell phoniness from down the street if the middle-aged pastor speaks and dresses like a twenty year-old in an effort to appear "relevant."

Pastors, let's be careful what we smell like.


A Pastor's Invaluable Gift

Brian Croft asks the question, "What is a healthy way for a pastor's wife to relate to her husband?"

His answer, "Supportive, but Unimpressed." Read his explanation to see just how much of an invaluable gift this is to a pastor.

Supportive: A pastor’s greatest asset isn’t a loyal elder or faithful deacon. It is a wife that knows him better than anyone, knows his struggles, knows his faults, knows his inadequacies, and knows the sins that most easily entangle him, yet has this unshakable support, love, affirmation and care for him. It is a wife with an unwavering faith in God and support of her husband, that sustains them both through the most painful conflicts, the greatest betrayals, and allows the hardest church situations to be manageable

But unimpressed: Though the unwavering support of a wife is of great value to a pastor and is essential in surviving the struggles of ministry, one of the worst roles for a pastor’s wife to play for her husband is to view him and his ministry with rose-colored glasses. The blind spots in a pastor’s life and ministry are most clearly and carefully observed by his intuitive ”supportive, but unimpressed” wife. A pastor’s wife that is impressed with her husband will not help him see the areas of pride and self-deceit in his heart that show up in conversations at home. A pastor’s wife impressed with her husband’s preaching will not objectively listen to him preach for the purpose to help him grow as a preacher. A pastor’s wife impressed with her husband’s gifts for ministry will be tempted to overlook those consistent criticisms that come from credible people in the church.

The reason I know what an invaluable gift it is to have a wife serve a pastor in this way is because I have a precious wife who is tremendously supportive and incredibly unimpressed with me. Because she has found this balance well she knows when to comfort me when I am legitimately discouraged and push back when I sulk. She affirms my faithfulness to preach God’s Word, but doesn’t think I am the greatest preacher in the history of the world (probably not even top 10!). When my first book was published and people asked with a bubbly excitement, “You must be excited, but I can’t imagine how your wife feels. What does she say?” I found the most accurate response being, “She is very supportive, but unimpressed.”

Thankful for Holly's support in the most difficult of times, but also for the fact that she loves the Lord enough to be unimpressed with me as well.


Praying To Never Preach "Much-Ado-About-Nothing"

A good word from Mr. Charles Spurgeon:

“Leave Christ out of the preaching and you shall do nothing. Only advertise it all over London, Mr. Baker, that you are making bread without flour; put it in every paper, ‘Bread without flour’ and you may soon shut up your shop, for your customers will hurry off to other tradesmen. … A sermon without Christ as its beginning, middle, and end is a mistake in conception and a crime in execution. However grand the language it will be merely much-ado-about-nothing if Christ be not there. And I mean by Christ not merely his example and the ethical precepts of his teaching, but his atoning blood, his wondrous satisfaction made for human sin, and the grand doctrine of ‘believe and live.’”