Preparing for persecution: two concrete steps to take...

(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.


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...


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.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.


Those of you who are privileged to be a part of Church of the Good Shepherd in Kinseyville, or of a similar church where disciples are made by teaching them to observe all the Lord has commanded His people, pray for those of us who live in communities where this currently does not exist. It is my suspicion that the (e)mergent church has been taken over by those who have come through feminized/evangelistically-oriented parachurch groups who justify their existance by how many asses they can pack into their meetings. We will soon be like Canada where the soft-speaking, but harsh-hearted feminarchists have all but silenced the "believing" pastors and their churches. Stalinism in Sesame Street clothing isn't far from being the order of the day in the good old USA. Our current Commander-in-Chief and many of our church leaders already operate this way.

Jack Flip of Wisco, in the shadows of Mad Town, Beast of the Upper Midwest

Dear Tim,

I just ordered the Workman book from Amazon. Great post, although I have many reservations about the implementation of your ideas in step one.

>I have many reservations about the implementation of your ideas in step one

Dear David,

I know, and appreciate your bearing with the Session and musicians in this. But keep in mind that it's likely we should have at least as many reservations about the implementation of cultural aesthetics in those churches staying on the more-traveled path.


Do you incorporate the Psalms in worship on a regular basis? Would you consider the singing of them an integral part of worship for God's people?


al sends

The equation of contemporary music--which is designed root and branch for performance rather than congregational singing--with the Reformer's insistence on worship in one's tongue strains all logic. For starters, the mass-mediated camp songs of the boomer generation reflect all the cultural disorder that Church of the Good Shepherd seeks to avoid. Its rejection of the musical heritage of the church, particularly the Protestant hymnody of Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley, robs believers of a critical resource for living in difficult times.

Insistence on quality music and good hymnody is not elitist any more than insistence on trained ministers who can rightly preach and adjudicate the Word of God. Ironically, the very choice of commercially driven music like CCM has little to do with a Christian understanding of culture or forms, but a utilitarian calculus that evaluates music for pragmatic reasons--because it allegedly draws a crowd, not because it is inherently better. If Church of the Good Shepherd really valued good congregational singing, it would never replace organ and piano with electric guitars and drums. If we take public worship as something that is really important (as we do for weddings, funerals, and Christmas Eve), the latter forms simply do not work. What young bride wants to walk down the aisle to a Top-40 tune?

As Ken Myers has argued cultural forms are not neutral: You change the music, you change the theology. A congregation that has been nurtured on vibrant congregational signing and the Trinity Hymnal would never be satisfied anything less.

>Do you incorporate the Psalms in worship on a regular basis? Would you consider the singing of them an integral part of worship for God's people?

Dear Al,

Not as much as we've always planned to. And yes, I think it an integral part, but more their reading and prayer than their singing.

>cultural forms are not neutral

My dear Bob,

Yes, precisely what I was saying. And it's an abuse of Christian Lord's Day corporate worship to fight that battle for one side or the other, even among those of us whose iPods are filled with early music (as mine is) and think that's what Africans and Indians and Asians will sing in Heaven.

But then, it's an old argument between us, isn't it? Still, a couple comments.

First, the heart of the church's hymnody is not the instrumentation or the music (certainly not the rhythm or harmony), but the doctrine. In other words, words. Hence Al asking if we sing the Psalms.

To say we can't sing Watts or Wesley because our instruments are amplified is--well, about what I'd expect from those who confuse aesthetics with doctrine. You know, "all an Englishman's prejudices are a matter of principle." That sort of thing.

Move on to music that encourages congregational participation and I'd agree, although not necessarily on what produces it. Spending my entire childhood and much of my young adulthood in churches that prided themselves on their tracker organs, it's hard to make the case that volume of instrumentation necessarily favors the pipe organ when it comes to congregational participation. I've kept track when I sing at CGS and I can always hear at least the voices of the twelve people around me. But the zeal of our singing; oh my, the zeal!

Of course, it's an all-or-nothing proposition with aesthetes, but with us it's a both-and. I'd guess proportionally, we sing about one-third of our congregational songs, hymns, and spiritual songs a capella. And we have a choir, too.

Quite interesting, though, that you said nothing about the words. Nothing at all.

Lots of love to you and yours, dear brother; I miss you,

>>>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.<<<<

Hey, Tim, that sounds very pragmatic of you. Are you adopting pragmatism as your guide?

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

>Hey, Tim, that sounds very pragmatic of you. Are you adopting pragmatism as your guide?

Yes, absolulely, Don. I hate principles! As I'd mentioned in the post, our elders were completely unprincipled in coming to this decision. That's why I supported it completely.

With affection,

Bob, recently Tim played a track off the new Good Shepherd Band album for my father and asked "can you imagine that in a Worship service?" My dad's response, "No."

I grew up going to churches with organs and pianos or just plain a capella, and as a family we sang hymns and psalms in family devotions every night (and only once was I asked to accompany on guitar). You sound like my Dad (don't worry, that means you're in good company). You cannot imagine how this 'rock & roll' or "top 40", as you put it, fits in a worship service. How can a band rock-out with their 'electric guitars and drums' and still allow the congregation to sing out (not just stand there and mosh). You want to know how?

Come to CGS. Any Sunday will do. Will you like it? Maybe... maybe not... but you will not be able to say that we have "rob[ed] believers of a critical resource for living in difficult times" because you will hear us sing (read 'belt out') Watts and Wesley. Come to a wedding and meet these brides who love the "top 40" tune the band has prepared for the occasion because it preaches truth to their friends and family rather than providing a cushion of soft-billowy sentiment to get them through the sermon. Come to our Christmas concert and see how we are truly committed to praising our Lord.

I do agree with you about CCM.

To Bob Patterson - I spent Satruday at a music festival marked by 'modern' worship songs that *are* designed for congregational singing - in this case, a congregation of several thousand, which is no mean feat for the UK. Go onto Youtube and dig out, "Blessed be your name" (Matt redman) or "God of Wonders" (3rd day), and you will find two (of many) modern songs that tick the boxes doctrinally. Oh, and we also got to sing some hymns too.

Oh, and in terms of persecution - with the opening up in the last twenty years of both the old Eastern Bloc and China, we can now talk to a lot of people who really do know what persecution is all about, and how to keep functioning when it happens.

Work with Asians, as I do in a foreign students' ministry, and you will also learn how to minister in a culture which is quite foreign to the Gospel and which will often oppose it directly as well (I am thinking of Singapore and Malaysia).

Thanks Tim,

One of the things we have greatly enjoyed in our worship is introducing a Psalm of the Month from the Genevan or Trinity. I think it would benefit us in times persecution to be able to recall them and singing is a fantastic memory aide. Not to mention the singing of God's word in worship seems right.

God bless Brother,

al sends

>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.

I couldn't agree more, Pastor Bayly. My personal style isn't with the instrumentation you describe, but the focus should be on sound theology and worshipful content in the songs. To be distracted by the style of instrumentation is basically self-centeredness.

My church also does an excellent job of incorporating solid doctrine and reverence in beautiful modern arrangements...


Re words: Almost any selection of the Trinity Hymnal, like "The King of Love My Shepherd Is" to the tune of St. Columba, is far superior to anything penned by the British heart throb, Stuart Townendy. I could go on and on: nothing on the chorus scene compares lyrically to hymns like Our God Our Help in Ages Past, Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken, Praise My Soul the King of Heaven, I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art, or Thine Be the Glory. I'll even include the more recent hymn by Margaret Clarkson, We Come O Christ to Thee.

Not only is conventional hymnody better when it comes to words, it is better structurally and musically. The structure of hymnody separates the words (the hymn) from the music (hymn tune) in such a way that the music submits to the words. Contemporary music, which our dear friend Paul Lusher considers "feminine" in attributes, has no such flexibility. The music tends to dominate and the words become secondary.

Conventional hymnody, which Paul says is masculine in attributes, is also superior aesthetically. Of course, the PC dogma of multiculturalism cringes at such a thought. But doesn't common sense and what the Westminster divines call "the light of nature" cringe at the idea of adopting the genre of American Idol for the public worship of the Living God? Have we lost our minds?

God's people deserve something better that what pop culture feeds them. They need cultural forms that reflect the beauty, form, and order of God's creation. Aesthetics and doctrine are not as easily separated as you presume. You sound almost gnostic in suggesting that musical forms do not really matter. We are embodied creatures. Likewise, doctrine is embodied in form, structures, and ritual. To deny that some forms are more suitable than others for public worship seems to me more an expression of the 1960s counterculture that holds established norms and formality as autocratic and artificial. Tom Howard is exactly right.

Tim, as much as I appreciate your theological and social convictions, I fear your music works against everything you are trying to do.

I highly recommend that you go listen to the Good Shepherd Band linked in this post if you have not already done so. It seems from what you are saying that you have not. I think it would at least help you understand that our church sings nothing from the "chorus scene" you mention. We sing old hymns and also wonderful new ones, some written by a man from our church and some by others, all of whom think good lyrics and music should continue to be written to the glory of God, not left in the past. And I'm fairly confident that even among those who don't appreciate all of the musical decisions in the church, there isn't one who would agree with your statement that the church's music works against everything Tim is trying to do.

Dear Bob,
Just wanted to let you know that, as a young bride, I very much enjoyed walking down the aisle to an amplified rock band in my wedding. And, while "Arise My Love" by Michael Card (our processional) is not a top 40 hit, "I Should Have Known Better" by the Beatles (our recessional) certainly was, and both were just as moving and celebratory as any organ or string quartet!

Dear Bob Patterson,

I very much appreciate your argument and I agree with many of the things you are saying. But I believe many of your assumptions about the music we are doing at CGS are wrong.

There is seldom a song, chorus, or hymn in the CCM evangelical world that Jody (the music director) or I (choir director and assistant to Jody) are favorable to. We cringe at the very same things as you are referring too. But to the statements you made above I have to ask, what is “quality music and good hymnody”?

Certainly at CGS we INSIST on quality music and good hymnody and it is not elitist to insist on these things. But it is elitist to think that “good congregational singing” cannot come of out of worship music led by “electric guitars and drums.” I suffered from this kind of pride. I was proud that I went to Tenth Pres. and worked on the music staff along with my great friend and mentor Paul Jones. And I mocked anyone’s music that was not traditional. I’m not sure if you have been to Tenth, but if you have, you know how wonderfully their congregation sings and how much gusto they have when they sing. The same is true of our congregation here in Bloomington even with our second service being a third the size of theirs. And additionally at CGS we are becoming less and less ashamed of using our bodies in worship through clapping our hands, raising our arms, and shouting “Amen.”

Three years back when I visited CGS for the first time I witnessed “contemporary” worship music different than any other I had ever experienced. And I thought, “It can be done.” It was doctrinally sound and had lyrical melodies that could be sung even with contemporary musical idioms. Forms both musical and poetic are not lost in our worship, but expanded. We don’t only use the strophic form that hymns almost exclusively use. There is so much more freedom in Christ than this. We use modern song forms, binary, ternary, da capo, etc. “Vibrant congregational signing and the Trinity Hymnal” is exactly what we do. The congregation may not know they are singing the Trinity Hymnal but they are. It sounds to me judging by the list of hymns you mentioned above that you are not opposed to the content of the music sung at CGS but are opposed to our choice of instrumentation.

>Tim, as much as I appreciate your theological and social convictions, I fear your music works against everything you are trying to do.

Actually it is quite the opposite.

In Christ,

For the record, here is a list of the songs and hymns sung at Church of the Good Shepherd over the past four Sundays, beginning with the most recent. Note that only three of the songs are less than 100 years old.

Rejoice, the Lord Is King
Be Thou My Vision
For All the Saints
Man of Sorrows
Am I a Soldier of the Cross?

The Strong, The Tempted, And the Weak
Spirit of God Descend upon My Heart
Breathe on Me, Breath of God
The Son of God Goes Forth to War

Immortal, Invisible
We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought
Jesus, I Come
Take My Life and Let It Be

Ancient of Days
Holy, Holy, Holy
The Love of God
There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood


Make that only two were written in the last 100 years (The Love of God, and Ancient of Days).

I thought The Strong, The Tempted, And the Weak was contemporary, but the words were written by John Kent, an English Calvinist who died in 1843.

I have listed to the CGS band and I am not impressed. Unless I am missing something, you take lyrics of great hymns and attempt to graft them onto modern melodies. The two do not fit. It is like mixing oil and vinegar. Or more aptly, it is like trading our Protestant birthright of excellent hymn tunes for a mess of pottage of mass-mediated show tunes. No wonder we are losing people to Roman Catholicism.

My recommendation is that you visit Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia on a Sunday morning or evening and you will be blown away by the congregational singing. Tenth, not music that you find at a Young Life rally, embodies the Reformed tradition at worship. Tenth has seen no need to change her worship or music for decades. So I honestly do not understand why Baby Boomers in many other places think they need to radically alter the music and ethos of Protestant worship. But of course, it's all about them. Rather than allowing the church to shape them, they want to shape the church into their liking.

Does anyone at CGS listen to Ken Myers's Mars Hill Audio Journal? Or have you read John McWhorter's insightful book, "Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music and Why We Should, Like, Care"? Both Myers and McWhorter might suggest that when it comes to music, CGS seems to be no longer functioning as a normative institution--as a church that sets the standard--but has accommodated itself to the disorder of our age.

Dear Philip and Steven Baker,

Looks like our postings crossed each other in the Internet posting process last night. I'm delighted that you sing hymns from the Trinity Hymnal. But why rip these hymns out of the natural esthetic environment that nursed them? How in the world does CGS improve upon what Tenth Presbyterian does?

By adopting the musical forms and sentiments of popular consumer culture, you are lowering standards in a day when Christians, of all people, out to be saying enough is enough, or as the late William F. Buckley said when he started National Review, Stop!

Is your choice of musical forms related to your change of "using your bodies" like they do in Pentecostal churches, or might I say, like they do on American Idol? I'm all for raising hands, but only high enough to hold the hymnal! John Calvin had reservations about emotional expressions in public worship, but I guess the enlightened counter-culture of 1960s, which entertains no distinction between private and public, has persuaded you that restraint is artificial and inauthentic. So not only have you emptied good music out of worship, but you taken the "public" aspect out of worship as well. You also seemed to have removed the hymnal, a critical aid that helps worshiper sing parts. Doesn't all of this add up to a deconstruction of Protestant worship that would make Diderot and Foucault smile?

Phil, if you say you were prideful when you went to Tenth Presbyterian, that is not the problem of the music. The solution is not the change the music, but change one's attitude.

Egalitarianism is not useful, including musical egalitarianism.

"No wonder we are losing people to Roman Catholicism."

Seriously? You think this is a/the major reason professed believers are rejecting the true gospel for the Roman perversion?

Bob Patterson,

Did you bother to read Philip M.'s post before you wrote yours? You recommended that we visit Tenth Pres. Philip (a key leader in our music), not only visited it but was a member. My wife (another regular contributer to the music ministry of CGS) is long-time friends with Paul Jones at Tenth and has sung at Tenth. There is no lack of familiarity with what's happening at Tenth driving the music ministry at CGS.

>>I have listed to the CGS band and I am not impressed.

Interestingly, I have a similar impression of your arguments. A pastor friend of mine once noted that yelling something very loudly does not make it true. Your assertions have the appearance of well studied principles, but closer examination leaves me waiting for the substance.

Again I would refer you to Philip M.'s post. He attempts to flush out your reasoning by asking "what is 'quality music and good hymnody'?" If you've established that definition, I missed it.

Finally, I am sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy the CGS band cd, but I would like to remind you that a cd cannot be entirely reflective of the Sunday morning worship. Therefore, would you please stop making false accusations against the men who lead our church until you've actually participated in one of our services?

In all sincerity,

>Tenth, not music that you find at a Young Life rally, embodies the Reformed tradition at worship. Tenth has seen no need to change her worship or music for decades. So I honestly do not understand why Baby Boomers in many other places think they need to radically alter the music and ethos of Protestant worship

Bob, do you mean Tenth Pres uses a cappella exclusive psalmody for their worship? That is the true Reformed tradition, after all. They weren't EP the last time I was there. Tenth Pres is a great church with a wonderful history and edifying music - but a part of the "true Reformed tradition" they are not.

I appreciate your wanting to preserve God-centered worship, but changing the music style that has been around for "decades" does not mean worship music is becoming more man-centered - it is simply becoming excellent in accord with the style and musical expertise of the day. In 20 years things will probably change again. As long as the content is focused on worshiping Christ in "spirit and truth," the style matters little, if at all.

For what it's worth, I prefer traditional hymns as well. But my preference is secondary to keeping my focus on the Lord in worship and preserving the peace and unity of the church, and supporting her worship, so long as it remains biblical and God-centered..

Mr. Patterson,

Again, I think most of your assumptions are wrong. None of our music caters to modern sentiments. We sing of heaven and hell, judgment, battle, the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, the pride-shattering power of the cross.

No modern sentiments there, I assure you.

Also, for what it's worth, we use very few modern tunes of these old hymns. Our music leaders believe that most of the old tunes are the right ones.

As for using our bodies in worship, we are simply being biblical. Your assumption that we are imitating American Idol is uncharitable. Remember who Tim Bayly is, please, before jumping to conclusions that are unfounded. Please tell me where the action of holding a hymnal appears in Scripture. But the action of raising hands and kneeling and--the horror!!--even dancing? Scripture is filled with such commands. No, none of it is done like the prostitutes on American Idol. But they didn't make the body up, God did. And he does command us to use it for his glory.


Um, I thought this thread was about preparing for persecution? NARAOM? (Not Another Row About Our Music)


Oh man, step away from your computer for one evening and look what happens!

You see, the persecution has already begun!!


Dear Mr. Patterson,

I just noticed that you hadn't seen Philip's post before you wrote yours, so I withdraw that question.

>>I'm all for raising hands, but only high enough to hold the hymnal!
>>You also seemed to have removed the hymnal, a critical aid that helps worshiper sing parts.

And you accuse the men of CGS of blurring distinctions? How about the distinction between the Biblical commands to worship God with our bodies verses our democratic opinion that every man deserves an equal opportunity to sing parts? (Incidentally, my wife and others sing harmony every week, from the pew).

I see no point in continuing to defend what goes on at CGS to you, but may the Holy Spirit give all the readers here ears to hear Tim's exhortation.

Some thoughts on sexuality and music:

>Contemporary music, which our dear friend Paul Lusher considers "feminine" in attributes...
>Conventional hymnody, which Paul says is masculine in attributes, is also superior aesthetically...

Let's please stop using feminine when we mean effeminate. Feminine is good; after all, male and female he created them. It is foolish, not to mention untrue, to reduce the argument to "Maculine = Good / Feminine = Bad", Scripture does not do this and neither should we. Broadly, the argument about sexuality is about the created order. Egalitarianism seeks to subvert that order; The Christian response must be to restore it, not deny that it exists. I've heard enough "masculine" hymnody, the Roman church has already tried this (as I recall, there were several hundred years in which only men sang at all in church). Good church music, much like a good church or a healthy marriage, has both the masculine and the feminine in their proper order.

Ack! You men are aggravating with your petty quibbling and pride over which genre of music is best in worship. Perhaps this is effort could be better used to putting forth Truth. It is no wonder to me that American Christianity has become watered down if this is where our men are spending their time. I think this may have been part of Pastor Tim's point. We are not prepared for the increasing persecution.

Dear Bob,

I understand the stance you are taking because I have fought in the same way and have said the same things. For me, this argument is not an issue of genre (as per Mary's comments, although that argument should be had at one time or another). I'm not opposed to singing the hymnal at Tenth, CGS, or anywhere else. I am opposed to limiting worship to the hymnal. God has gifted his people in so many ways beyond singing one page, 8 and 16 bar melodies, and in so many ways beyond composing hymns in the standard hymnal structure.

I believe our conversation would be more profitable in person than trying to extract our arguments here and there from paragraphs. And I truly hope that I will meet you here are Church of the Good Shepherd sometime because then this conversation would be more worthwhile.

Below are some responses to your comments and verses to meditate on about the use of our bodies in worship.

>Phil, if you say you were prideful when you went to Tenth Presbyterian, that is not the problem of the music. The solution is not the change the music, but change one's attitude.

Exactly! And I would not dare to change their music. They have a good thing going. Any other music in the context of Tenth’s worship would likely not fit because of the architecture alone, not to mention other things. I have repented of this pride and if I were back at Tenth, sitting in the organ loft (where I used to sit), I would continue to fight this sin while all the enticing glories of music surround me.

>Does anyone at CGS listen to Ken Myers's Mars Hill Audio Journal?

Yes. In fact I went to a church music conference that Ken Myers spoke in at Wheaton.

> CGS seems to be no longer functioning as a normative institution--as a church that sets the standard--but has accommodated itself to the disorder of our age.

I hope you will come spend some time with us before you make such assumptions. And you are most welcome.

>How in the world does CGS improve upon what Tenth Presbyterian does?

By singing just as gloriously and by raising our arms, clapping our hands, and shouting with joy unto the Lord.

>You also seemed to have removed the hymnal, a critical aid that helps worshiper sing parts. Doesn't all of this add up to a deconstruction of Protestant worship that would make Diderot and Foucault smile?

2 Chronicles 5:13
 The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: "He is good; his love endures forever." Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud. . .

. . . with a cloud of Trinity Hymnals? CGSers sing in unison and in parts. Deconstruction? Because the Red Trinity Hymnal is not being held? That’s ridiculous.

Psalm 28:2
 Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.

Psalm 47:1 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.

Psalm 63:4
 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

Psalm 95:6
 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;

Psalm 98:8
 Let the rivers clap their hands, Let the mountains sing together for joy;

Psalm 119:48 
I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.

Psalm 134:2
 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD.

Psalm 141:2 
May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

Ephesians 3:14 For this reason I kneel before the Father. . .

Acts 9:40
 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed.

In Christ,

I would like to say it is a pleasure and refreshment to see all the men that orchestrate, coordinate, and perform the music I've witnessed at CGS to be faithful to scripture and extremely edifying, and encouraging to know why they do things the way they do. Also who are willing to explain and argue it out. (Isaiah 1:18) Who have also been faithful to stand against, abortion, feminism, cheap grace, and stand for the Centrality of the Gospel, Biblical sexuality, and many more points in which culture and satan seek to tear down the Church. I thank God for spirit filled worship that isn't centered on man held tradition, but seeks to be reformed by God's eternal world.

Your friend from his emergelical, wish washy, Roman Catholic city in Cincinnati; a city which desperately needs to hear these things.

"Of course, it's an all-or-nothing proposition with aesthetes, but with us it's a both-and."

Yes, this is what all the aesthetes do. They set up false dichotomies between the consumer-driven "Shine Jesus Shine" and hymnbook-only Isaac Watts as if there weren't this vast, rich land between to explore. It's a very uncharitable way to argue a rather unimaginative point.

"Shine Jesus Shine" isn't even all that bad.

This hasn't been explicitly stated in the arguments, but I know it is the underlying principle for considering the Trinity Hymnal to be the best form of hymnody, because my church is facing this same decision right now. Time. We consider the hymnal to be the best because it has stood the test of time. The trinity hymnal wasn't always hundreds of years old. It hadn't always "withstood the test of time". And honestly, do you really think we won't still be singing "In Christ Alone" over 100 years from now?

Gentlemen and Scholars,

You make a valid point that I should visit Church of the Good Shepherd before we continue the discussion. And yes, there are limits to a fair exchange over an Internet blog, as we do not know each other all that well (other than Tim and I). Please be assured that my postings were not intended to level any "false accusations" against any individual; only to raise questions about patterns that extend far beyond CGS.

Perhaps lost in the related topics that fired me up is a word of caution that I submit with all due respect: When we exchange inherited forms of worship representing the accumulated wisdom of previous generations for, as Mason writes, "the style and musical expertise of the day," especially of our disordered generation, we may end up with a lot more than we bargained for.

As Ken Myers contends, it is difficult to embrace idioms and forms of pop culture without also buying into the notions that pop culture embodies, including a preference for informality, a suspicion of authority and social hierarchy, and the elevation of the self as the measure of all things. (See his "Christian Content and Cultural Forms," Nicotine Theological Journal, April 2005.)

Likewise, the English Reformers struggled for years to get forms, ceremonies, and liturgy right because they knew that form and content cannot be so easily detached. The evangelical assumption that the two can be separated, or that all forms are neutral, is at heart what I find most troublesome.

Thanks for letting me contribute to the discussion.

Dear Mr. Patterson,

The following lengthy comment I prepared before your last comment, but I only now had a connection to submit it, so excuse any misapprehensions. Thank you for your intelligent, straightforward, and respectful exchange with us. I do look forward to meeting you in person and discussing further sometime.



Dear Mr. Patterson,

I don't believe we've ever met, so please forgive me in advance if I make presumptions about you by these comments. I, too, appreciate much of your argument and your concern and commitment to God-honoring church music. Yet, as others have pointed out here, you have made a number of presumptions in your argument that are ill-founded, both about the music employed at CGS (Church of the Good Shepherd), and about the constituent elements of church music in general.

As a preliminary, it will be helpful for you to know that I am far from serving as a "yes-man" for the band here at CGS. My background contains little sympathy for CCM music, and even far, far less for rock music, which my family regarded as more or less inherently immoral, rebellious, and God-dishonoring. And in fact, in our postmodern, distinction-hating world, I do not despise, and indeed still have a measure of respect for this position, though I no longer accept it in its entirety (but that's another discussion). I have little love for electric guitar, and great dislike for distorted electric guitar, which I find obnoxious and caustic. I know by heart the four-part harmonizations to hundreds of hymns, and I like little better than a 4-part hymn-sing accompanied with piano, organ, or a capella. I dearly love each of the members of our band here, but I will just as readily offer (hopefully constructive) criticism as I will commendation of a particular musical arrangement that I find objectionable.

I say all these things not to boast, but to show that I have no natural reason to defend contemporary music in any context here. And yet, having said all that, I do accept and defend the philosophy that guides the music here at Church of the Good Shepherd. I understand and agree with the musical principles that undergird our worship, even if occasionally I disagree with the implementation of those principles. In an area such as music that so wonderfully bridges our hearts, spirits, and minds, but whose affective power we struggle to trace or explain, it is inevitable that we will disagree on musical decisions. Yet it is the principles that govern worship that we most want to get right, and we leave it to Christian charity to cover the disagreements that come with their implementation. And so with this backdrop I must say that charity demands that you argue with the principles that actually guide worship music at CGS. Parts of your argument here reflect neither the actual nature of the music employed here at CGS, nor the Scriptural principles that inform it.

First, it is likely that very few of those who attend CGS would have much sympathy with the majority of the CCM scene, and also likely that fewer still would find the music played in our worship services to bear much resemblance to that of the CCM scene. Indeed, were you to attend a worship service here, it would be a fairly rare occurrence for you to find a popular CCM song used in our congregational singing, and far more likely that you would find a hymn of Watts and Wesley sung (rarely) to a new tune, (often) to a new arrangement, or (occasionally) to even a traditional arrangement. Seriously, to identify the music at CGS with that of CCM because (for example) both incorporate guitars is something akin to conflating an anthem by Henry Purcell with one by the Gaither vocal band because both are in English and rely heavily on tenors.

Second, you assume that the musical approach taken here at CGS comes out of a desire on our part to "draw a crowd" by appealing to the commercially-driven tastes of those we wish to attract. I assure you, this is far from the truth. Musical decisions, and particularly as they relate to lyrical integrity, are not made from a "utilitarian calculus that evaluates music for pragmatic reasons," but rather from a desire to glorify God by leading His people pastorally into worship that honors the true God, not the false one that much of CCM has imagined. Honestly, if our goal is to draw the biggest crowds, we have failed utterly, for often the music sung here drives more people away than it draws. There is little that is commercially utilitarian about it.

Third, while I agree with you about the need for doctrine to be expressed in "form, structures, and ritual," your arguments imply that communicating doctrine in a contemporary style inherently demolishes form and structure. On the contrary, consider the elements of both form and structure that remain in our contemporary music: melody, often contained in a standard 8-bar pattern; harmonies, generally triadic and simple in nature, and a homophonic structure that incorporates simple chord progressions with a long pedigree in Western music. Indeed, though it's true one can make the argument that contemporary music is at times slavish in conforming to regular patterns, it's difficult to claim that it represents a hatred of form and structure.

Fourth—and this is the nub of the matter—though you seem to hold that contemporary music militates against established norms, I believe your larger point actually grants implicitly that contemporary music conforms to standards—but to standards that you consider artistically inferior to those of traditional forms. Indeed, much of your argument here turns on the notion that church music should incorporate structural elements that are better than what the pop culture offers. Thus your contention that we may be "trading our Protestant birthright of excellent hymn tunes for a mess of pottage of mass-mediated show tunes." I point out, in passing, that your opposition of excellence and show tunes is hardly self-evident. Are there no excellent show-tunes? Some of the composers of our "excellent hymn tunes" were hardly opposed to writing the equivalent of "show tunes" in their time (Handel, Mozart, and Haydn come to mind...).

Having said this, I have no quibble with making and applying value judgments to art in general, or music in particular. I do believe that certain music is "better" (however we wish to define this) than other music. Yet even if we grant your contention that the musical forms in which hymns are traditionally sung are better than those of contemporary music, it is one thing to admit this, and quite another to declare that church music should only incorporate those elements that are artistically superior. Such a contention owes more to Western cultural aesthetics than it does to Scripture. The Bible says little about the need for music to be artistically superior, and says much about the need for God's people to worship from hearts that are humble and joyful. God has been pleased through the centuries to inspire art that ranks high on the aesthetic scale (St. Matthew's Passion) as well as creations that never touch the sublime, never boggle our minds, and yet express their devotion to God in humble, heartfelt ways ("What Wondrous Love is This," "Were You There," etc.).

From a linguistic angle, had God been most concerned about artistic value, Classical Greek, with its wondrous flexibility and elegant structures, would have seemed the superior tool to use in communicating Holy Scripture; instead, however, we find the NT written in Koine Greek, a language of inferior aspirations and impoverished forms. But is it not God's practice to show His incomparable excellence by using lowly earthly vessels? Has He not chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise? I am not denying a place for high or superior art, whether in music or in literature, and indeed the NT does contain passages that at times reach for sublimity. But to insist that church music only be of the highest aesthetic caliber is to force a straitjacket on worship that is foreign to the NT. God has created elegant roses, to be sure, but He's also created common thistles, and our gardens need room for both. Can we work in a pop genre without buying into, as you say, the notions it embodies? Perfectly, no, since living in the City of Man means all our work will be tainted with sin. And yet this work, as difficult and peril-ridden as it is, is necessary, so pray for us in this endeavor.

So, am I now a devoteé of contemporary rock music? By no means. Will there be a rockin' recessional someday in my wedding? Categorically, absolutely not—unless you think the Mendelssohn march rocks (as I really do)! Will I ever enjoy singing hymns to drums and electric guitars the way I used to love singing to a piano or organ? No, as I've come to see, with a little sorrow. Am I saddened that four-part hymn singing as we once knew it will soon become a thing of the past? Yes, very much. But do I accept that traditional hymnody can be played with guitars and retain its integrity, its power, and its conviction, all the while doing so in a contemporary vulgar tongue? Yes, I do, and I count it a joy to be able to follow (and work with, when I can) godly, humble men who are so concerned for the purity of worship music, as Jody, Phil, and the other men leading worship here are. But I echo the thoughts of many others here: don't simply take my word for it; come and see. Good things can come out of Nazareth!

And so our goal for the music here is to prepare men to live humbly and rightly with their God in the face of persecution, and to do the will of God in a world that is quickly passing away. It was nearly 300 years ago that Watts penned that immortal line that I'm sure you love as I do, and that sums up so many of my thoughts on this passing world: "Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all his sons away; they fly, forgotten, as a dream dies at the op'ning day." We at CGS strive to proclaim the glory of the God who is both our Help in Ages Past and our Hope for Years to Come, and to communicate the riches of His glory in a tongue that is accurate, humble, and concerned more with communicating His Gospel than with achieving artistic excellence.

Very sincerely,

Josh Congrove

Dear Josh,
Thank you for your charity toward us. I know how much my guitar playing can grate on you.

Also, I laughed loudly at your comment about Purcell, Gaither and tenors. Hilarious!

I'm closing down the discussion, here, so it may continue under the more recent post, "Music in worship: you don't want to miss this..."