Stratocasters in reformed worship...

(Tim) Reformed pastors and elders would do well to consider whether it isn't time to stop despising the musical vernacular in our leadership of the worship of God's people each Lord's Day.

There may be some congregations where the root of traditionalism goes so deep that it would be foolish--maybe even uncharitable--to turn forward the clock. But I'm betting using amplified instruments and modern arrangements of old hymns for the worship of God's people won't happen in most of our churches for the same reason preaching against the heresy of egalitarian feminism doesn't happen...

Elisabeth Elliott put it crassly some years back when she said the problem with the church today is that "it's filled with emasculated men who can't bring themselves to say 'no' to a woman."

Be assured that I'm not saying this of anyone in particular, but rather of most of us in general. You know, like good conference speakers; no one has to take anything they say personally. Just a suggestion. A thought. My own personal narrative which just may be of some introspective interest to one or two of you.

I love everybody.

And because I love you, please listen, brothers: it's time for us to stop trying to kill two birds with one stone. Either we love the Biblical docrtrines of grace and seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ (Who, it's worth adding, chose unschooled ordinary men to be His apostles), or we make disciples of the most perfect forms developed across centuries of Western culture. We haven't the time to do both.

Like the world of investments; concerning the leadership of the church, rewards are usually commensurate with risk. Or put more Biblically, with suffering.

Comments

Tim,

This isn't a comment about traditional or contemporary, but high v. low. My natural inclinations would be high (in fact, the best "worship service" I have ever seen put on was done at the uber-liberal Shadyside PCUSA in Pittsburgh), but the longer I am in ministry, the more I am inclined to agree with you.

When did the Reformed movement, which began as a very low church movement, become enamored with grand buildings, architecture, massively expensive pipe organs, orchestras and the like? NB: I like all these things. But, like you, I don't think they are what the church should be about. WE need a return to apostolic simplicity --which may come about, ironically enough, as a matter of economic necessity.

That said, I do think that one thing is lamentable about the way modern worship music is happening, and that is that it is missing some sense of universality: that is, one can go from one congregation to the next, and be perplexed by a complete change of tunes to the same words, etc.

WE have changed our whole evening service to be more "of the people." It has been greatly received: a fine blend of old and new, instruments, voices, young, old, families, etc. It has been a great blessing.

We should at least be aware of the rationale being used for using the "musical vernacular." Some reasons may be good, some may be bad. Some may be unspoken.

I don't want to feel like I'm at a concert when I go to church. That includes a symphony concert or a rock concert.

Are we doing it for the same reason churches want deaconesses, publishing houses update the Bible, and pastors shy away from preaching on sin, righteousness and judgment? ...to be relevant and make Christianity more "accessible"? Hopefully not.

Does the content have substance and richness, or is it shallow and trite? Is it dignified? Is it for man-centered or God-centered?

Are the instruments drowning out the words being sung? [That includes traditional organs, not just rock-n-roll stuff].

You don't need expensive gear of any sort to sing songs of praise [whether ancient or modern].

...some random thoughts.

>Or put more Biblically, with suffering.

Given our current state of Liturgical bedlam, suffering is often the operative word.

With love

We should be against any sort of religious show, whether an oratorio (in worship, a concert is fine), or a rock concert.

Music principles: simple, congregational singing, God-centered, Word-derived, meaty lyrics to accessible tunes.

Instrumentation is adiaphoral. Reverence (and not casual flippancy) is not.

> We should be against any sort of religious show

> Music principles: simple, congregational singing, God-centered, Word-derived, meaty lyrics to accessible tunes.

Exactly, Ken. But are those outside [inside?] the church interested in simple and non-showy? That is opposed to what they are culturally used to. We may end up back where we started: being un-seeker-friendly, at least to the masses.

Then there is the whole "generation gap" issue. What did teens listen to in Mozart's time? Surely they wouldn't have tolerated what their parents liked. How much of "have it *your* way" pop culture must we accomodate?

Do we stoop to a base level, or do we aim to elevate others? [I'm not defending organs by suggesting we ask ourselves that about everything, not just music.]

A lot of it, just like Zondervan, gets back to the money.

I'm fine with an electric guitar as long as the player remembers he's in church, not playing a rock concert. Genre means something.

My church has squeezeboxen from time to time--of course it's Minnesota. (but we're Baptists--no polka mass!) Our pastors also address the problems of feminism.

The aesthetic sensibilities of a culture operate within the context of a particular world view. This world view gives rise to a culture's artistic expressions. As Henery Van Til noted:"Culture is religion externalized."Given the presuppositions that undergird modern popular culture it would behoove us to be prudent in borrowing the the musical forms this culture has given rise to.

Tim,

So, if I walk into the dozen "evangelical" churches around me - all awash in egalitarianism, top to bottom - what kind of musical accompaniment will I see? A simple piano (or guitar) accompanying psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, or will I find stratocasters, drum sets, electric keyboards, and HUGE amplification systems (wouldn't want to actually hear the imperfections in that musician's playing...) on the.. um... "stage."

I've got no problem in principle with amplification or with guitars, drums, etc. in worship (read the psalms, right?). But to attribute our antipathy to a "rock band" ethos in worship to a dead traditionalism seems to overreach. Those of us with "traditional" expressions of worship must - again, must! - be on guard against formalism. But formalism doesn't exactly appear to be the temptation du jour for most. It is having a worship service that is immediately accessible to young people - many of whom are not "unschooled" and "low-class" at all, but whose tastes might well be.

When I was at CGS earlier this year, I was impressed by many things going on; the singing wasn't one of them, mostly because I couldn't hear anyone else. The instrumentation completely overpowered the singing and the long term effect of that is predictable: the band whose current job it is to assist in worship will CONDUCT worship on behalf of the folks sitting and listening. To make much of instrumentation - whether violas, cellos, organs, or stratocasters is a strange thing, given our tradition's (there's that ugly "T" word again...) emphasis on the importance of singing and not playing.

You may have some effete and emasculated choir directors who sing only John Rutter in the crosshairs - I don't know. The churches all around us who are utterly indifferent to most of what this blog's writers stand for are only to happy to show you their stratocasters. An organ? Give me a break (they'd say)!

Keep up the good work of making us think... :-)

I find it significant that the instrument the twenty-four elders are described as playing before God in His very presence (Rev. 5:8) is the kithara--an instrument deeply connected to the cult of Apollo and one that musical conservatives like Plato and Aristotle disliked, saying it should be kept from the kiddos for fear of them becoming virtuoso exhibitionists. When we speak of instruments and forms (which are always linked with instruments) in worship, we want to be more conservative than God Himself.

> "it's filled with emasculated men who can't bring themselves to say 'no' to a woman."

The emasculation factor is part of it but there's more than that. And the emasculation factor runs far deeper and broader.

> Music principles: simple, congregational singing, God-centered, Word-derived, meaty lyrics to accessible tunes.

> How much of "have it *your* way" pop culture must we accomodate?

This is what I love about "contemporary" or I should say vernacular worship. You can sing along, the instrumentation tends to fit the emotions that the words are trying to get at.

Sometimes though, the more accessible we try to make the music the more inaccessible it becomes.

It's a matter of picking good music and good instrumentation, it's not always good to put certain instruments in (though I still like the now infamous kazoo) - and it's not always good to make each song very loud. And the cases where we sometimes drop all instruments for a stanza or so or sing a traditional hymn a cappella it contrasts nicely with the instrumentation used at other times.

So I'm a big fan using both types of music. If we have all loud music or all quiet, it begins to sound bland thus David's "Sing a new song to the lord."

No, we won't reach everyone but I think there is common ground between generations.

-Clint

"Genre means something."

This reminded me of a parishioner's remark one Sunday, after she'd spent a few months (say, a dozen Sundays) worshipping with us in a smellsy-bellsy Book of Common Prayer service which routinely includes some musical forms not found in most church services, much less within "the vernacular" of anything.

Looking around the sacntuary from her pew after the service with a sort of aaaaaahh-haaa gleam in her eye, she said "Everything in here means something."

She is exactly and completely correct, and her statement applies just as much to music in all of its aspects as it does to what she sees with her eyes, hears with her ears (in addition to music and singing), smells with her nose (that's engaged with the incense, the odor of wine), feels with her hands or knees, or tastes with her tongue (yes, that too gets engaged in worship!).

In music, everything means something. Genre means something. Idiom means something. Melody means something. Rhythm means something. Tempo means something too, as does instrumentation. All of it and every piece of it means something.

What does any part of the music mean? How do the meanings arise in the first place? Do the meanings of the parts cohere with the meanings of the other aspects of the music (or, do they dissonantly clash?). Can the meanings change, and if so, how?

Are worshipers ever taught what the meanings are, or are they left to import their own meanings? Are the meanings socially generated and sustained, or does everyone make up his own meaning? Do the meanings of the past have any relevance at all for worshipers in the present?

I expect that none of these questions are even imagined; that if asked none would be understood, or would admit of any answers for the ordinary worshiper. And this is why there is such a "caw-caw-phony" of opinions in discussions like this, for opinions are almost the only things brought to the discussion.

>>I expect that none of these questions are even imagined...

Maybe normally, you'd be right. But here at CGS, simplicity is an intentional commitment.

Much love,

I have distanced myself from this conversation for many years now as I did not want my on affiliations with music to be a stumbling block to others who are not musicians. I also wanted to make sure as a classical musician that I knew what I believed before I commented as well.

After much consideration, I have come to this conclusion regarding music in a worship service: If I have trusted my soul into the hands of the eldership of a church, ought not I also trust the worship style to the elders as well?

At Church of the Good Shepherd (modern praise band) my soul was fed by the faithful playing and singing unto the Lord. The Elders at CGS made a decision for this style and (after a while) I submitted to this decision and was nourished continually.

At our new church in Pittsburgh, the church has made a conscious decision to use a more classical-type style. The Elders have made this decision and I have submitted to this decision and I have been spiritually nourished.

There are aspects of worship that must be present in all faithful services which I don't need to go into now. However, all other details, while initially can be up for debate, must be decided upon by the leaders of the church and the congregants ought to submit to this leadership. Pastor Bayly knows full well that if I can submit to the Elders of the church then anybody can.

Sincerely and with love,
Lauren

I don't think we need to choose between an obsession with classical music and musical egalitarianism. Neither is in keeping with the reformed tradition.

>>"rock band" ethos...

Dear Matt,

Who said anything about a "rock band ethos?"

>>formalism doesn't exactly appear to be the temptation du jour for most.

No, but for most of our readers, yes. Most decidedly yes, although I did not speak of "formalism" let alone dead formalism. I spoke of using the Church of Jesus Christ and its worship to pass on the highest forms of Western aesthetics.

That's not what church is for. And time is passing.

But another point: some churches couldn't do better than to engage the Enemy in their midst by changing their aesthetics. You know, change the grape juice to wine and see which women rise up out of their seats to get you and the elders?

Similarly, put an amplified instrument into your worship service and see which women push their husbands to rise up out of their seats to get you and the elders.

>>I couldn't hear anyone else (sing at CGS)...

Maybe you were sitting in one of our many dead spots? Or surrounded by effete aesthetes who were refusing to sing.

I keep track of this every week and have for several years, now. Consistently, I can hear between eight and ten others singing, as well as myself. And when I was at Tenth Presbyterian with my wife and son last month, I put the number there at ten to twelve. Only slightly better.

Next time you're here, sit next to me and you'll be encouraged by the zeal in singing from the voices around you pushing you to glorify God. It grieves me you missed this last time.

Love,

PS: BTW, were you not here during the Doxology or the a capella hymns (two of them) we do during the Lord's Supper?

"But here at CGS, simplicity is an intentional commitment."

And, simplicity, particularly intentional simplicity, carries a message, a meaning.

Affectionately,

Fr. B

>>simplicity carries a meaning...

Er, actually, it gets out of the way of a meaning. This is why I'm opposed to pulpiteers.

Love,

"This is why I'm opposed to pulpiteers."

I remember many homiletics students who would have wished for you to be their judge at grade time! And also a few who are grateful you were not.

Dear Bill,

All of them would do well to read Iain Murray's latest book. Pulpiteering is antithetical to Biblical preaching.

The calling of a preacher is to sound a ClearNote:

http://www.clearnotefellowship.org/WhoWeAre/OurCommitments">http://www.clearnotefellowship.org/WhoWeAre/OurCommitments

If his congregation leaves thinking him erudite or articulate, he's failed.

Love,

Matt,
My experience at CGS is that the congregation has become more involved, more joyful, more submissive to leadership and more demonstrative in worship, not less. I don't see this church as being in danger of becoming passive and withdrawn while the band thunders on. That is a real concern and in many churches worship has become a spectator sport to the shame of the men who lead there.

The outcome depends largely on the faithfulness or unfaithfulness of the men who lead you in worship. Any worship leader who would allow the congregation to sit idly by while the band keeps doing their thing is completely failing to do his job.

Like Lauren said, if she can trust and submit to the elders and follow their teaching, preaching and public example, why should she behave differently in regards to music?

"I've got no problem in principle with amplification or with guitars, drums, etc. in worship (read the psalms, right?)."

So only in practice then?

Okay, Tim, I'll bite. What is pulpiteering?

And David Gray, what is musical egalitarianism, and how is it not in the Reformed tradition? If what you mean is simple, singable, and congregational, let me assure you that that IS the Reformed worship tradition.

Thank you Lauren! I appreciate your comment!

> opinions are almost the only things brought to the discussion.

Yeah, but I've heard biblical justification but usually people ignore that and go back to the opinions thing.

As far as being able to hear people sing - I can definitely hear a lot of people sing around us - but I'm used to being able to hear many more - due to the a cappella singing I knew previously.

> If I have trusted my soul into the hands of the eldership of a church, ought not I also trust the worship style to the elders as well?

Yup, that's where I'm at. It seems funny that many people will take evil teaching as long as they like the music. Making sure that there's nice music playing in the elevator to hell.

> Similarly, put an amplified instrument into your worship service and see which women push their husbands to rise up out of their seats to get you and the elders.

You sneaky devil. I've wondered if that was intentional. However, I thought as a side effect it was great - it certainly caused me to evaluate my priorities in a good way.

-Clint

"Consistently, I can hear between eight and ten others singing, as well as myself."

That'd be sad for me. We have 75-100 at worship, and I hear DOZENS of voices. I'd feel pretty isolated if I could only hear 8-10; I want to hear the whole congregation. We're not the most brilliant bunch of singers, but we all work at it, learning and practicing a Psalm or hymn of the month before the service, including harmonies. What are the chances I could hear all four parts if a band were blaring?

We are an army-choir, urging each other on in the battle. It's not all commanders and no troops. We know we're in this together.

>>What is pulpiteering?

Iain Murray's latest book opens it up.

it's cherry instead of poplar or oak or pine; it's Kroger instead of Aldi and Walmart; it's liquid soap rather than a bar of soap; it's Presbyterian rather than Baptist; it's White Flower Farm instead of Lowes Garden Center; it's focusing on the tool rather than the task.

On the other hand, preaching is rolling up our pants legs and folding back our sleeves; it's working in the pulpit as though we had an Enemy; it's being useful rather than known; it's taking the pulpit from hirelings and shoving good shepherds up into it; it's the Boundary Waters in Alumacraft instead of Grumman or Olde Town, Old Town instead of Birch bark.

A pulpiteer wears Allen Edmonds and Brooks Brothers and carries a Mont Blanc. He's a refined gentleman with exquisite taste--in doctrine as much as fountain pens. He rarely goes to battle, but when he does the victory is assured before his arrival. Risk is avoided at all cost.

No one could imagine any New Testament book coming from his pen. Those twenty-thousand word parenthetical statements of Paul are really gauche, you know. And the grammatical errors caused by his zeal in the midst of Galatians? Really, we would expect better of an Apostle. In fact, the doctrine of inerrancy demands it.

Hope that helps.

Love,

Tim,

That's awesome. I get the point, even as I disagree with some of the analogies!

I need to get the Murray book!!

Tim,

Are you referring to Murray's Heroes?

>>That'd be sad for me...

Most Esteemed Valerie,

Can you imagine any circumstance in Heaven or on earth where it would be decided by the elders that the musicians on their instruments would be louder than the voices? And then imagine the voices growing louder because the musicians have driven them forward in zeal and they don't have to think about their neighbor being able to hear them. Then imagine the instruments backing out for a verse or an entire song and only the voices being heard. Then the instruments coming back in and driving the souls to abandon parts in favor of the People of God united in giving glory to God. In unison. Con gusto. Shouting. Yelling. Marching. Blowing the trumpets. Banging the drums. Jumping up and down in delight and anticipation. Dancing in joy.

It's a funny thing, but even Reformed Presbyterians do this in Africa. Drums, that is.

And here in Bloomington they use a pitch pipe. Tune in North America, rhythm in Africa, and what do you have?

Maybe it would help everyone to know that, prior to our elders putting a band in place, you could stand in our worship and hear every single last voice singing all four parts. But we wanted more zeal and humility in our worship, so we left that behind. You know, the good being the enemy of the best.

Sounds incomprehensible, doesn't it? But I can't begin to describe the fruit of this decision in our church life! Strong. Bold. Zealous.

And thing is: one of the elders who led this change was the largest classical recording dealer in the world. He's currently selling his 60,000 personal record collection year by year to the Library of Congress. But of course, he's never thought about content and form. Aesthetics. The medium being the message. The Regulative Principle of Worship.

Others will have to take over for me, here. But let me end with this: almost all my tastes--and particularly my musical ones--are highbrow. My father grew up in New York City and we learned from him. But only in Africa have I ever experienced being pushed to zeal by the leadership of the chief musicians as I am each Lord's Day, now, by our chief musicians here at Church of the Good Shepherd. It's true; the opera people usually submit to it only grudgingly. But then, who ever built a lifeboat with divas led by James Levine?

Running for cover,
In love,

Dear Ken,

No, "The Old Evangelicalism."

Also, I'm currently teaching Luther on Galatians to our first-year ClearNote Pastors College students and Baxter's "The Reformed Pastor" to our third-year students. Both books (although you have to avoid modern abridgments) demonstrate the principle perfectly.

Then too, I highly recommend Kierkegaard's "Attack Upon Christendom" to pastors firm in their doctrine and able to withstand his errors. Also, the essay from "First Things" titled, "Preaching as though We Had Enemies."

Love,

Okay, sorry to dominate, but the one that stabs me to the heart "useful rather than known."

One of my big sins --wanting to be known.

Ouch, and thanks.

>>One of my big sins...

I invented it, Ken. Good discipline for that particular sin is becoming infamous.

Your comrade-in-arms,

Tim,

Wow. There is something for everyone in that excellent comment! Seems like it is worthy of a post to me! Thank you.

Matt Beatty said:
"The instrumentation completely overpowered the singing and the long term effect of that is predictable: the band whose current job it is to assist in worship will CONDUCT worship on behalf of the folks sitting and listening."

Not true. As the chief musician at CGS (band leader, worship planner) I track the congregation’s level of participation very carefully. Enthusiasm, exuberance, and gusto are on the rise, not the decline.

For the record, my band doesn’t “assist,” it leads. Sadly, a few individuals have refused to follow our leadership citing various principles or excuses. But most of these resisters God has softened over the past year and now they too are eagerly and joyfully contributing (singing, raising hands, clapping, etc.) in worship. Participation, and I mean active participation, is only increasing here.

Perhaps next time you’re in town we should get you a seat on the platform so you can share the vista I enjoy every Lord’s Day. I’m regularly moved to tears by what I see and hear from notorious sinners.

Tim,

Your words about pulpiteers reminds me of
back in the day when we road dogs used to call some of the detectives and high brass "fancy pants". One of the reasons is that these guys got promoted in part because they were terrified of the street and never got dirty or bloody (and their slacks were fancy!) They, and those like them, rose to the safest place...offices. No blood, no brains, no dead babies were to be found in the offices. Nor were there injuries, threat of death, fear, nightmares etc. They got the office jobs because they really wanted those jobs. The road dogs actually liked the street in a way that if someone has to ask I can't explain to them.

The worst part, though, wasn't the cowardice of the "fancy pants" ON the street. It was their cowardice OFF the street. It was the way they messed with, inconvenienced, unjustly disciplined and basically played the passive-aggressive game with the road dogs. They hated that the road guys showed them to be cowards (and they had the power to punish the road guys for it..how brave)

No we weren't perfect (no, definitely not...not at all). We wanted to make a name for ourselves and to be braver and tougher than the other guys on the street with us and we surely sinned in our dislike of those in authority over us.

This is a memory that screams in my brain whenever I think of or have the bad providence to be around pulpiteer types. Somewhat off topic but my 2 cents on pulpiteers. (An uncivilized rant, I suppose.)

Tim,

I'd love to discuss more the pulpiteer vs. preacher thread, but acknowledging that this thread didn't begin that way!

I have always striven to be a blood and guts, preach against the sins of the people in front of you, no matter what the cost to the preacher.

But, the inevitable criticism comes (not as much as it might), that one is being too hard, not enough grace. So, I go back and re-listen (very painful) and hear myself make constant references to grace and the cross,patience with the weak, etc etc.

Now, this is all to be expected. But, how does one know if he is being too hard, too voluble, too angry, too denunicatory?

A relevant question, because the sermon this week is on the death of John the Baptist, who didn't seem to worry at all about such things! and of whom LUke writes, "(John speaking) His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." 18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people." John's denunciations were GOOD NEWS!

NOt to be unduly critical of many of our PCA brethren, but they seem loath to really address the sins of their own people. Or, if they do, the applications are trite and surface-y.

But, how do you address this without trumpeting your own horn? How do we call forth divine prophetic boldness out of our men?

Dear David,

Honored by your company. Generally, shepherds are bloody.

Love,

Tim,

Start a line on preaching v pulpiteering. I would love to discuss, but feel like I might be hijacking a valuable discussion on worship.

Dear Ken,

I will, but please note how interrelated the two are. My preaching has been inestimably strengthened by the change in our worship leadership.

Anyhow, I'll start another post for discussion, but I need to turn other places after doing so, OK?

Love,

> Then imagine the instruments backing out for a verse or an entire song and only the voices being heard.

This is what I was referring to and I love this - I'm glad to hear it's intentional. I wish we did it a little more often.

In David's Mighty Men, that's some of the best singing I've ever heard - probably because we're prepared by Sunday worship to sing louder - and at CGS people do sing louder than any church I've ever heard.

The loud music seems to have a different effect in some churches I've seen - the organ being so loud that people just don't bother trying - or the organ is meant to drown out bad singing. I would imagine in those cases the music is loud to belie the fact that the congregation's on spiritual life-support, rather than the music itself infusing new life.

So this is why some people are against loud music -having seen it wrongly used.

-Clint

My dear brother Tim,

It'd be even sadder for me to discover that you really think you need to "run for cover" in a discussion with me. Say it ain't so, bro!

No, Esteeemed Valerie, it was James Levine that turned me into a scaredy cat.

Affectionately,

Several responses:

Tim:

Brother - overall, I really LIKED your service. There were parts here and there that reflect your situation as my ideal service would mine, but God is clearly at work at CGS. It probably goes without saying, as I think you'd ready acknowledge, having musicianship like you have is not the hand most of us have been dealt. Send me a couple of your young men, full of grace and truth, and share the wealth, huh? Don't hog all the resources.

Andrew Henry:

Any worship leader who would allow the congregation to sit idly by while the band keeps doing their thing is completely failing to do his job.

If CGS is unique in this regard (and it may very well be), may your tribe increase. But the general direction of contemporary evangelical - the kind with drumsets, stratocasters, etc. - is unmistakably a performance. The "organ/choir" crowd has its own set of problems (with some overlap); I'm not a party man on these issues.

"Just in practice?"

For now, yes. I pastor a congregation for whom a CGS service would be strange and feel like betrayal. Their last pastor - the one who abandoned them - got here, felt the pressures of white-collar suburbia, pressure to conform, etc. and bolted. I would very much like our congregation's worship to reflect a greater music/aesthetic diversity. The questions are practical: how to get there and how fast.

Jody:

I trust your assessment is correct, Jody. You would certainly know better than me. My point was simple and had the force of a self-report (which normally - in logic - is taken as "valid") - I couldn't hear the folks around me. The folks could've been effete, wallflowers, grumblers - you name it.

Strange though - when David Abu-Sara came to preach for us, I asked him for feedback and when he gave it (it wasn't so flattering), I accepted it immediately as true (why would he lie?) and went back and reported it to our men.

In our own fellowship - the CREC - I'm much, much closer in spirit and conviction to brothers like those at CGS than some other brothers in our fellowship who want to teach congregations to chat the Psalms. I've no interest in that.

Perhaps CGS should write something about this? Something that utilizes Tim, David C, and the host of others at CGS who have something to offer on this score? Might make a nice edited volume and place your thoughts in a more permanent (and helpful) medium.

Peace,
Matt

Dear Matt,
Why would a CGS service feel like a betrayal? Just because of the music? Or is there more wrapped up in that?

I can't tell from your comment if the "pressure from white collar suburbia" was the pressure that he felt from within the church, or the pressure he felt from the outside. What does that pressure mean, as far as music is concerned? Was it pressure to be more formal or less so?

You are right in observing that CGS has been blessed with many musicians in a wide range of styles. It is something of a tradeoff being in the same town as IU. We get many music students who are able to serve the church, but our congregation has a fairly substantial turnover every year as students finish school, get jobs and move away. God knows what we need, and He gives generously.

Warmly
Andrew

Dear Matt,

I'm not suggesting that your experience at CGS was invalid, only that your assumption as to our trajectory (decline) is.

Warmly,
Jody

Well, whoever's playing what, I definitely prefer no clapping.

I didn't express that very clearly: Clapping with the music is fine, clapping for it I don't care for in a worship service.

Michael,

Well, I thought I would have to start quoting the Psalms on you!

>Clapping with the music is fine, clapping for it I don't care for in a worship service.

Agreed. But I have, on occasion, witnessed spontaneous outbursts of post-hymn clapping (even a little hootin' and hollerin') where it was clear that God and His truth, not the music/musician, were the objects of applause. We wouldn't want to restrain that, surely.

>>Reformed pastors and elders would do well to consider whether it isn't time to stop despising the musical vernacular in our leadership of the worship of God's people each Lord's Day.

Next time you are filling up with gas, ask the person across from you, '... so what do you think of using the musical vernacular in leading Gods people on the Lord's Day?'

Now it is possible you will find some in B-town that wont give you a blank stare, but even here not many. If we are going to discipline ourselves to use common music, shouldn't we use common speech?

We want the offense to be the Gospel, not that we feel stupid around some types of Christians who use words they don't understand.

I could have gone to almost any of the comments to find other examples. Your post was simply 1st and not the most outrageous.

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