Monday, September 26, 2005

"State of the Onion"

OK, a few days ago I had my first "encounter" with a family member that actually had the guts to confront me about the decisions I am making... It only ended because I stopped it. Maybe more on that later...

Afterward I started thinking and I talked through where I am in my thoughts.

I still believe that A Cappella music in worship is the best way, that has not changed. For me, it's less complicated and "purer". With A Cappella singing it is HARDER to get distracted (not impossible by any stretch) and more compulsive to participate...for me.

What has changed (the change started at least 12 years ago) is my understanding of the implications of instrumental music in worship. A Cappella singing is not explicitly commanded in the New Testament and worshipping in song with instrumental accompaniment is not rebuked or condemned. Whether or not we practice A Cappella singing or singing with instruments does not have salvation implications. Even if you could make an argument that the Bible implies that it is the best way, it does not condemn it (no more than it condemns someone for being paid to minister, even though it strongly implies it).

Given that it is not condemned or commanded, it is a preference...a choice. For the purpose of looking at a particular Church family to decide if you want to work with them long-term it now stands among other properties of a Church-body like:
  • Does it have a prison ministry?
  • Does it have a Youth Minister?
  • Does it have a dynamic preacher?
  • Does it have a strong senior's group?
  • Are they committed to foreign ministries?
  • Are there enough people there from your peer-group?

These are just a few examples, but you get the point. Some of these things will be more important to one person than the next. One person may not be very concerned that a congregation does not have a prison ministry, however another may be very excited about that fact that one does (maybe that person has a family member in prison). In any event, one or two of these things may not make a big impact on your decision to attend a Church body or not. However, if you add them all up, their sum makes a big impact.

The Church that I am attending now has so much going for it that it just makes sense to go, I want to be there, I want to be involved. Do I occasionally get uncomfortable about something that I see or experience? Yes. But that is no reason to dismiss it as wrong, inappropriate or unworthy worship! (see "We're not in Kansas anymore") I once wrote a lengthy letter to the elders of the congregation that I was going to a few years ago and in it a begged to "squirm in my seat", I want to be challenged and continually let God mold me into a tool for his use.

Throughout my entire life there were many times when something happened during worship or otherwise that I did not care for or flat out did not like. Some examples are (15 minute long rambling prayers, negative sermons made to make non-Christians and people of other faiths feel stupid, song services that feel like death marches, unorganized worship services, cold and unfriendly people...) I can now only assume that this happens everywhere, and that is just the point. There is no such church as as the one made just for me, wherever I go, there will be some compromise.

I have come to the conclusion that this is a complicated issue for some and a non-issue for others. For me, I am pushing it off to the side for more important matters - there are plenty.

(Thanks to a friend that reminded me that I need to watch my words...)

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"...Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:7-18