To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
Before I even write my thoughts today, I’m going to warn you it’s soapbox day. 🙂 I watch American Idol with Natalie and Josh, and on the show one of the judges will know she is about to get “booed” so she goes ahead and says “I know … BOO… BOO.” Well, I realize I’m sharing an opinion today that some don’t share. So you may me boo me today if you wish. I can take it.
My thoughts today are on the songs we sing in churches across America and how they affect (or do not affect) those in the service. The question is – and it’s a question that is debated in many churches today – for whom does the church exist? And for today, I’m speaking of the little “c”. The churches, locally. Why are we part of the local church in which we belong? Since my husband is a pastor, much of the reason I belong to the present church in which our family is a part is because we feel God has called us here. There were many events that led us to believe and conclude that at this season in our lives we were to serve and share in the ministry of this local church.
But beyond that, there are two main reasons I choose to be involved with the local church – fellowship and discipleship. I love the people at church (most of them anyway). I feel a belonging in my small group. I connect. I share my heart. It’s wonderful. I also love what I learn in church. Through Bible study and teaching, I’m growing in my knowledge of Who God is and my daily life is strengthened because of it. BUT … I also believe the church exists to BRING “OUTSIDERS” INTO fellowship and INTO discipleship. So if we are doing what we are called to do (the great commission given by Jesus in all four gospels and the book of Acts), on any given day, the church should be made up of believers and non-believers, who we are helping in every way to become believers and followers.
Now, to the point of this little message: Does the service on Sunday morning take into consideration that some of those there are not “churched?” Or for the most part, do we ignore them in our words, songs and preaching/teaching? If so, I believe we are wrong. I believe that everything I do should be done for the sake of the gospel. EVERYTHING. That means that what I do, I don’t do just for ME! Now, I really do like the following song, but …. well, just read it:
Elect from every nation, yet one o’er all the earth; her charter of salvation, one Lord, one faith, one birth; one holy name she blesses, partakes one holy food, and to one hope she presses, with every grace endued.
Though with a scornful wonder we see her sore oppressed, by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed, yet saints their watch are keeping; their cry goes up, “How long?” And soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song.
Mid toil and tribulation, and tumult of her war, she waits the consummation of peace forevermore;
till, with the vision glorious, her longing eyes are blest, and the great church victorious shall be the church at rest.
Now, I firmly believe that the church’s one and only foundation is Jesus Christ the Lord. I’m just wondering if this song communicates that? I’ve heard people say of great, old hymns, “Well people need to know that song.” Why? Really … why? I don’t get it. Do people need to know that the foundation of the church is Jesus, Who died for us and shed His blood for us? Absolutely. What I want to know is if the common man invited to my church on Sunday morning would hear this song and get that message? When we sang it, my daughter didn’t even comprehend most of the song. And she is a fairly deep thinker and has been a Christ follower for a while now. I admit the song was somewhat new to her, but honestly this is just not ok with me.
Many churches use more modern translations to communicate the Word of God because it helps people understand the Bible. I think the Bible was written in a language of the people – common language. So I’m glad we do that. But why must we continue to sing songs “in a different language?” I pray that I will never cease attemping to make the gospel relevant and within reach of those who don’t know anything. I am sad that the church sometimes appears to be a Christian country club with secret codes and chants. If we sing songs in church that are hard to comprehend, I think we should tell the people what it is that they mean. Authentic worship can’t happen through empty words and vain repetitions, whether it be prayers or songs or sermons.
So here’s my question to you: If you are committed to singing songs that a lost person couldn’t understand because they are comfortable and dear to you, would you at least be committed to take the lost person to lunch after church and explain it to them so they begin to grasp the message? If there aren’t any lost people sitting near you in church, why not?