(Tim, w/thanks to James) Please listen to Wake Up Sleeper (the title cut) and Where Are the Persecuted? as you read this post.
At Church of the Good Shepherd, we work to raise our children and disciple new believers in expectation of growing persecution. Calvin says times of peace are not to be used getting fat, but to prepare for the next battle already on the horizon and closing on us quickly.
This is our goal at CGS and it informs our preaching, Bible study, childrearing, reading, and worship. It's these last two things I want to focus on in this post--worship and reading. First then, worship; and within worship, the themes and instrumentation of our music.
STEP NUMBER ONE: MUSIC
In our age of feminized discourse and cheap grace, Church of the Good Shepherd makes a conscious effort to restore the biblical themes of persecution, conflict, suffering, Satan, death, the coming Judgment, Heaven, and Hell.
Have you noticed these themes are absent from reformed worship today? And beyond absent, they're anathema to woman deacon/Emergelical churches where everyone has an iPhone, evangelism happens in the art gallery, sermons are eloquent discourses on the many faces of narcissism, and women administer the Lord's Supper.
Living in such a decadent age, we're working to restore them--particularly to the music of our worship.
Next to one of the world's largest music schools, Church of the Good Shepherd is a congregation filled with musicians and composers, most of them classical...
We understand the central place and power God has given music in Christian worship and we're unwilling to corrupt that gift by wasting it passing on Western culture when it can be used to help us put on the full armor of God and stand.
For years we chose that broad, more traveled path in conservative Reformed congregations, indoctrinating our new believers and children that, although they could have amplification the other six days of the week, there would be none allowed the Seventh Day--at least during corporate worship. But we repented, and now we worship in the same vulgar tongue the Reformers restored to Christian worship in the face of Rome's Latin elitism. The electric bass has replaced the pedals of the pipe organ, the drums play alongside our (miked) piano, and now and then our guitar sings out a killer descant.
This reform was led by highly-trained musician elders and we've never looked back. There's been a sad, but seemingly inevitable, change in our congregation as those who couldn't stomach amplified instruments departed for congregations where the music is olde and quaint (or more likely Gaitheresque or late eighties Vineyardy). Although we miss them, those leaving have only been a very small number, and nothing compared to the number we've added whose only prior musical experience has been in the vernacular.
We all agree the benefits of the elders' decisions and the direction our Sons of Asaph have led us under the leadership of Jody Killingsworth have been overwhelming.
Preparing for persecution, imagine how original anthems written from our midst strengthen our work:
Where Are the Persecuted?
“Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” 2 Timothy 3:12
Where are the persecuted?
Show me a willing man
Since everything’s gone easy now
What a happy time we’re in
Caught in a fog of feeling
She‘s gone and dropped her task
You take too much for granted boys
Someday you‘re gonna pay it back
You‘ll have to pay it back
Where are the persecuted?
There’s something not quite right
The signal fires were beaming strong
And you turned out the light
The Lamb went to the slaughter
And you go to your bed
Our fathers drank a bitter cup
But mine went to my head
I drank wine instead
So proud of your demeanor
They like to feel you smooth
They tell me you‘re legitimate
‘Cause you don‘t pick and choose
Truth went in the cooler
Got buried in the shed
But tell me not to worry now
And I’ll make sure you‘re very well fed
‘Cause everybody knows that above all else a man has got to do just whatever he can
Here in America the times are bad and it is harder now just to keep your family fed
Keep your family fed
Where are the persecuted?
No one ever stirs the dust
It was good for Paul and Silas
But not good enough for us
© 2009 ClearNote Records, All Rights Reserved
Again, music's themes and instrumentation are key to the creation of biblical culture within the Church assisting in the preparation of each of us and our children for the coming persecution. I wish all of us would give up using music to pass on taste and aesthetics, and turn again to the simplicity of biblical themes and words conscientiously put in the vugar tongue. But on to preparing for persecution and the role reading should have in that preparation...
STEP NUMBER TWO: READING
As it's now against the law for Christians to do anything physical to stop the dismembering of the 1,300,000 unborn children slaughtered each year just down the street from us, soon it will also be illegal for Christians to preach or say anything warning the sexually immoral that their conduct is an abomination to God--and that, unless they repent, they will perish eternally.
Here's a little prognostication: those believers and their pastors who find saying "No" to abortion distasteful and prefer to say "Yes" to crisis pregnancy centers are likely the same Christians and pastors who, as the cost escalates, will also find saying "No" to sexual immorality distasteful, preferring to say "Yes" to the joys of Christian marriage and morality. Those who feel most comfortable witnessing to the Faith in the "God loves you and has a wonderful man for your plan" or "God loves you and has a wonderful wife for your life" sort of way.
God's "No" is already a stench in the eyes of Emergelicals, but soon it will become illegal, too. And those who have been timid in these days of the feminization of discourse and the slothfulness of cheap grace will turn and run for their lives when prison terms are added to the cost of biblical preaching and witness.
If you want to think through carefully what steps to take as you raise your children and disciple believers in preparation for the coming persecution, don't just consider your music.
Also, get a copy of Persecution in the Early Church and read it. Carefully. Or, do as we did and read and discuss it with the church's future officers and their wives.
Honestly, I don't know how anyone can begin to consider how to live in this present world without a thorough knowledge of the circumstances and methods used in Ancient Rome to silence the Christian witness of the Early Church.