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Why do we…? (part 2)

January 19, 2009

Why do we play secular songs before our gatherings?

If you weren’t there this week, first of all you missed out on a GREAT day.  Secondly, you missed out on our incredible worship band and vocal team rocking the Joe Cocker rendition of “With a Little Help from My Friends.”  (Trivia – without looking who can name the band which originally sang this song and the album on which it appeared?)  Disclaimer: our band wisely removed the lyric “I get high with a little help from my friends.”  Good call.

When I was at a previous ministry location, this legitimate question was asked of our staff:  “Why are we playing a song that’s been played in bars and at dances in worship?”  Now, before I explain why The Bridge does this I want to point something out really quick.  If you’ve grown up in a Bible belt church setting (like me), this is a legitimate question.  Worship is supposed to be reverent, right?  This is EXACTLY how I responded when my home church (Living Hope Baptist Church) first played a secular song in worship.  On the other hand, if you didn’t grow up in church (or anywhere outside of the Bible belt) you might be laughing at the question itself.

Here’s why I’ve encouraged Isaac (aka “Ike” and “Fu-Man”) and our incredible band to do this…

1) “Worship” isn’t about a time, place, or meeting.  This is why we call our Sunday mornings “gatherings” instead of “worship”.  It’s always a tendency for people to attach “worship” to times and places, but Jesus told a woman that was making this same mistake, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.”  In short, there’s nothing sacred about 10-11am on Sunday morning.  What’s sacred is what happens in our hearts before God.

2) The Bridge is loud and proud that our DNA is “Theological-relational-missional” DNA.  The Apostle Paul set a radical example of what it means to be missional by saying, “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.  To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak.  I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

Paul’s point is that part of being missional is seeking out commonality with people outside of God’s saving grace.

Also, notice something in Acts 17:28 (it would be worth it to go get your Bible here).  Paul is preaching to a bunch of pagans and quotes someone in this verse as saying, “For in him we love and move and have our being.”  If you check out your footnote your Bible might say “Epimenides”.  Epimenides was a secular poet that’s actually quoted twice in the New Testament.  Here and in Titus 1:12.

Also, also notice the phrase “Jesus is Lord” that peppers Acts and the rest of the New Testament.  Christians picked this phrase up from the secular Roman Empire (they used “Caesar is lord”) and redeemed it for God-honoring purposes.  In all three of these examples, Christians take something from the secular world and use it for God’s kingdom.

My very long point here is that Christians had a practice of redeeming worldly things and using them to honor God in order to communicate their message to the world and engage them missionally.  This is exactly why we play secular songs before our gatherings – to make people who feel weird about church feel comfortable and redeem something that’s previously been used to ungodly purposes and use them for godly purposes.  This is one of the many ways that we honor God by making our gatherings missional.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Greg permalink
    January 20, 2009 7:38 am

    The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

  2. Greg permalink
    January 20, 2009 7:43 am

    Although the Joe Cocker cover of this song is phenomenal.

  3. Jim permalink
    January 20, 2009 8:54 am

    Music has always been one of the touchy points in church. In the church I grew up in they would not allow anything other than a piano and an organ. This was due to the fact that all the other instruments were used in songs that were not “godly.” I guess they didn’t listen to the rock that had a piano in it.

    Here are a few other musical arguments through history.

    “This complicated chaotic confusion is ruining the church.” – In the 1200’s, starting in France, musicians began to discover the idea of harmony. The startling effect of the choir suddenly changing from the lone and sinuous melody of the chant to two-, three-, or even four- part music did not please everyone. One critic commented how harmony “sullies” worship by introducing a “lewdness” into church.

    “The leader is just asking for trouble when he says, ‘Why should the devil have all the best music?'” – In the 1800’s, William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, used rousing melodies with a martial flavor to set the tone for his Army. He is credited with popularizing the “why should the devil” question cited above.

    These examples are from the book Perimeters of Light. This book discusses how far should you go to be “all things to all people.” It mainly talks a great deal about the foreign mission field. These are great examples because when we leave our house, we are on the mission field. I talk all the time that we need to be a church reaching people that no other church reaches. We should not grow by just getting people from other churches or biologically. (We are doing a good job of having many babies though!!) Part of being this kind of church is doing things that have not always been done. I seem a little uncomfortable when we try something new because of the church that I grew up in. However, when I take a minute to reflect, I realize that the church I grew up in is not reaching the lost and has not grown in the last 40 years. In the end, I am willing to be uncomfortable if our church can lead one more person to Christ.

  4. Becky permalink
    January 20, 2009 9:50 am

    Preach it, Honey!

  5. January 20, 2009 10:36 am

    Many people point to hymns as the “non-secular” songs. They want to sing the old hymns ONLY believing they are the only pure tunes blessed honored by God because the tunes and lyrics were penned during a mystical moment with the Creator of the Universe. The truth is… Some of the most well-known and well-respected hymns were bar tunes that were set to secular lyrics. There was an uprising in the church over that. But… many people started an eternal friendship with Jesus because of it.

    I think if we weight the two options… 1) Helping church attenders find comfort and security in what they already know and enjoy, and 2) Saving people from eternal separation from God and a place of eternal torment called hell…. Well… need I say more?

  6. josh permalink
    January 20, 2009 12:55 pm

    @Greg – I should’ve known as soon as I posted this that you’d be on it first.

  7. Greg permalink
    January 20, 2009 6:58 pm

    Hahaha. I love you and am praying for you, Jana, and The Bridge.

    And thank you for being a pastor and mentor to me in ways that you can not begin to comprehend.

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