Mailbag, New Apostolic Reformation

The Mailbag: Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?

For the next couple of weeks I’ll be preparing to speak at the Cruciform
conference, so I’ll be re-running some popular articles from the archives.
I hope you’ll enjoy this one.

Originally published May 28, 2018

 

Should Christians listen to the song Reckless Love? Should churches use this song in their worship services or other activities? Aren’t songs like this OK if they point people to Jesus and the lyrics don’t blatantly contradict Scripture?

Goodness, I have never seen so much buzz over whether or not a particular song is OK to listen to or use at church. Regardless of your opinion of the song itself, I think we could all agree that one awesome thing that has come out of the Reckless Love debate is that it has encouraged Christians to actually look at the lyrics of, and think theologically about, the songs they listen to on the radio or sing in their worship services.

That’s phenomenal. We should be analyzing every song we sing that way whether it comes to us via a dusty antique hymnal or Pandora. There are hymns, and gospel songs, and CCM songs, and CHH songs that need to be thrown out because they contain poor, or outright heretical, theology. Here’s hoping we will continue to be as meticulous in examining every song we hear as we have been about examining Reckless Love.

So what about the song itself? Is it OK?

I’m going to start off my answer by drawing from a previous article, God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship:

Such was the case recently when Christian social media was up in arms (and rightly so) about Cory Asbury’s worship song Reckless Love, and whether or not churches should use it in their worship services. Discussion centered around the use of the word “reckless” to describe God’s love for us and whether or not that was a semantically and theologically appropriate adjective. “Relentless” was suggested as an alternative lyric. “Reckless” was defended as an appropriate lyric. And then Cory Asbury’s explanation of the song came to light and did further injury to his doctrinal cause…

…Focusing on the word “reckless” missed the point – at least the big picture point. You see, Reckless Love was produced by Bethel Music. And Cory Asbury is a “worship leader, songwriter and pastor” with the Bethel Music Collective. Prior to joining Bethel, he spent eight years as a worship leader with the International House of Prayer (IHOP).

Why is this important? Because Bethel “Church” in Redding, California, and IHOP are, functionally, ground zero for the New Apostolic Reformation  heresy. Heresy. Not, “They just have a more expressive, contemporary style of worship,”. Not, “It’s a secondary theological issue we can agree to disagree on.” Heresy. Denial of the deity of Christ. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Demonstrably false prophecy that the head of IHOP, Mike Bickle, has publicly rejoiced in (He estimates that 80% of IHOP’s “prophecies” are false.) And that’s just the tip of our metaphorical ice berg when it comes to the NAR.

If you claim to be a Christian, and denying the deity of Christ (saying that Christ was only human, not God) and blaspheming the Holy Spirit aren’t enough for you, please take a moment right now to do some soul searching and ask yourself why that is. These people are blaspheming your Savior and you’re going to defend them? Denying the deity of Christ alone is enough to put a “church” outside the camp of Christianity. It is one of the damnable “another gospels” Paul refers to in Galatians 1:6-9.

But maybe seeing more of the fruit of the poisonous NAR tree will help:

“Holy” Laughter. The NAR blasphemously attributes this to the Holy Spirit, disregarding the fact that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control and that God demonstrates throughout Scripture that He is not a God of chaos, craziness, and confusion, but of orderliness and peace.

 

Fake and delusional prophecies. Pick any biblical prophet and read his prophecies in comparison with this. And don’t forget what the Bible says about false prophets.

 

Fake “glory clouds” of “gold dust” and “angel feathers” (glitter and feathers placed into the ventilation system) released during the worship service as a supposed sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit. I guess Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit and the many promises of His presence in the New Testament aren’t good enough.

 

Raising the dead. Oddly enough in this age of everyone making videos of everything and cutting edge medical technology, there’s never been a single medically verified, video evidenced resurrection.

 

Being “drunk in the Spirit”. This is not how you do Acts 2:13-21 or Ephesians 5:18-19, two of the passages the NAR mangles to support this demonic activity, which they blasphemously attribute to the Holy Spirit. (By the way, the guy in this video, Todd Bentley, was commissioned as an “apostle” by Bill Johnson, lead “pastor” of Bethel. And shortly after Todd cheated on his first wife, divorced her, and married the woman he was cheating with, Bill Johnson “restored” him to ministry. You can see video evidence of both of these things here and here.)

 

And if that’s still not enough for you, there’s fake faith healing (language warning- this was written by a non-Christian who, by the way, did not hear the gospel when she went to Bethel) including kicking people in the face and other forms of assault to “heal” people, grave sucking, and demonic tremoring. Then there are the incidents from overseas that you hear of from time to time such as the South African “pastor” who made his congregation crawl around on the lawn eating grass and drink gasoline to be closer to God, or the Kenyan “pastor” who ordered women to remove their bras and panties before coming to church so God could enter their bodies more easily, or the Zambian prophet who took it a step further and removed a woman’s panties in front of the entire congregation so he could pray over them for her infertility, or the South African woman who died because her “pastor” placed a heavy speaker on top of her and then sat on it to demonstrate God’s power.

You may not see this kind of craziness in every service at every NAR “church” but every single one of these incidents and practices (and so many more) springs from the same unbiblical theology of the New Apostolic Reformation.

Including Cory Asbury’s choice of the word “reckless” when he wrote the song Reckless Love. Cory is a product of the theology he’s been immersed in for so many years.

And that’s the main problem with churches using songs in their worship services from groups like Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, and Hillsong, which teach “another gospel”. In the same way that marijuana use can serve as a “gateway drug” to more dangerous and addictive narcotics, Reckless Love itself might not do too much damage, but…well, as I explained to another reader in a previous Mailbag article False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music:

It’s imperative for churches to be discerning about the CCM they use in worship. If Jane Churchmember hears a CCM song in church and likes it, she’s likely to Google the song (probably right there in church- I’ve done it!), find out who sings it, and begin following that artist. Worship pastors who use CCM have a responsibility to vet the artists who perform the songs they select for the worship service to make sure they’re not sending Jane into the arms of a heretic. Additionally, music costs money, and you don’t want your church’s offerings supporting false doctrine.

A common objection I see Christians make to this concept is:

Well, [insert name of hymn writer here] wrote lots of perfectly biblical hymns, but he had some theological problems too, and you’re not recommending we get rid of all of his hymns.

Well, first of all, maybe we should more closely examine the theology of some of our most prolific hymnists and stop using their music because of what they believed. Quick – off the top of your head, name the three we should start with…

…And that’s what separates the errant hymnist from Bethel, et al. Most Christians, even those who prefer hymns over CCM, could probably not name three people who wrote hymns, let alone tell you anything about their theology. But if you ask the average Christian to name three top Christian artists, she could rattle them off in a second.

Most hymn writers have been dead for up to hundreds of years. They don’t have Facebook pages you can follow, nobody’s playing their stuff on KLOVE, they’re not on tour to promote their latest album, and they don’t have thousands of followers worldwide. If you wanted to follow their errant theology, you’d have to hit the books to research and study it. The NAR musicians’ theology is only a click away on YouTube, social media, live streamed concerts and conferences, and on their web sites. Nobody is following dead hymnists’ false doctrine, but hordes are following NAR musicians’ heresy.

And as for music that springs from heretical theology pointing people to Jesus? Ask this wiccan young lady who went to Bethel and was told by someone “prophesying” (supposedly speaking what she heard God say) over her:

“I feel the Lord saying to you that He is very pleased with you. You have been so faithful to Him. You have been faithful to His Word, even when though there are many people telling you that you are now going the wrong way. But God knows it isn’t true. He wants you to know that He is proud of you. God knows that you are walking with Him and He is so proud of your faithfulness.”

She wasn’t pointed to Jesus. Nobody explained the gospel to her or told her she needed to repent of her sin. Instead, she was affirmed in her sin and told that she was, in fact, “walking with God” and “faithful” to Him when she was living in witchcraft (which earned the death penalty in the Old Testament) and had never put her faith and trust in Christ for salvation. And all of this by someone who was claiming to speak for God Himself. The Bible says it’s impossible to please God without faith in Christ.

This kind of music doesn’t point people to Jesus. It points them to the NAR version of Jesus, which, as evidenced above, is not the Jesus of the Bible. If someone puts her faith in the NAR version of Jesus, she’s not going to be saved, and she’s going to spend an eternity in hell. The Jesus of the Bible said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Nobody is getting to Heaven through any other version of Jesus except the Jesus of the Bible.

OK, now I’m aware of what the NAR teaches and I’m definitely not getting sucked into any of that! What about just listening to Reckless Love when I’m alone in the car? I believe what Cory said about why he used the word “reckless” and I’m OK with that.

That’s between you and God, but let me ask you a question as you prayerfully consider what would be pleasing to Him. What if, instead of the word “reckless”, Cory had chosen the words, “f—ing awesome”? And what if he had explained that, to him, that phrase just meant “really awesome” or “super duper awesome”? That, in his song, it didn’t have the vulgar meaning most people think of when they hear the f-word? Would you, based on his explanation, still sing that song?

Of course not. Because words mean what they mean, not what we want them to mean.

Cory can offer explanations about what he intended by the word “reckless” until he’s blue in the face. That doesn’t change the actual meaning of the word, which is what most people understand it to mean when they hear it. And, furthermore, Cory isn’t following the song around to every single person who hears it and explaining what he meant by it, so most people will hear “reckless” and assume it means what it actually means, not that Cory used the word “reckless” and meant something else by it. That’s not how human language works.

In considering whether or not to listen to this song, spend some time in God’s Word studying the way God wants to be approached by people (rather than how you want to approach Him) and how He reacted when they approached Him improperly. Remember, everything we do should be governed by Scripture, not our opinions and preferences, or whether we happen to like a particular song or not.

The NAR is a dangerous heresy that is sending people to an eternity in hell. People are getting saved out of “churches” like Bethel, not getting saved by them. Consider carefully, prayerfully, and according to Scripture whether God would be pleased by you having anything to do with NAR organizations. “What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Mailbag, New Apostolic Reformation

The Mailbag: Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?

 

Should Christians listen to the song Reckless Love? Should churches use this song in their worship services or other activities? Aren’t songs like this OK if they point people to Jesus and the lyrics don’t blatantly contradict Scripture?

Goodness, I have never seen so much buzz over whether or not a particular song is OK to listen to or use at church. Regardless of your opinion of the song itself, I think we could all agree that one awesome thing that has come out of the Reckless Love debate is that it has encouraged Christians to actually look at the lyrics of, and think theologically about, the songs they listen to on the radio or sing in their worship services.

That’s phenomenal. We should be analyzing every song we sing that way whether it comes to us via a dusty antique hymnal or Pandora. There are hymns, and gospel songs, and CCM songs, and CHH songs that need to be thrown out because they contain poor, or outright heretical, theology. Here’s hoping we will continue to be as meticulous in examining every song we hear as we have been about examining Reckless Love.

So what about the song itself? Is it OK?

I’m going to start off my answer by drawing from a previous article, God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship:

Such was the case recently when Christian social media was up in arms (and rightly so) about Cory Asbury’s worship song Reckless Love, and whether or not churches should use it in their worship services. Discussion centered around the use of the word “reckless” to describe God’s love for us and whether or not that was a semantically and theologically appropriate adjective. “Relentless” was suggested as an alternative lyric. “Reckless” was defended as an appropriate lyric. And then Cory Asbury’s explanation of the song came to light and did further injury to his doctrinal cause…

…Focusing on the word “reckless” missed the point – at least the big picture point. You see, Reckless Love was produced by Bethel Music. And Cory Asbury is a “worship leader, songwriter and pastor” with the Bethel Music Collective. Prior to joining Bethel, he spent eight years as a worship leader with the International House of Prayer (IHOP).

Why is this important? Because Bethel “Church” in Redding, California, and IHOP are, functionally, ground zero for the New Apostolic Reformation  heresy. Heresy. Not, “They just have a more expressive, contemporary style of worship,”. Not, “It’s a secondary theological issue we can agree to disagree on.” Heresy. Denial of the deity of Christ. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Demonstrably false prophecy that the head of IHOP, Mike Bickle, has publicly rejoiced in (He estimates that 80% of IHOP’s “prophecies” are false.) And that’s just the tip of our metaphorical ice berg when it comes to the NAR.

If you claim to be a Christian, and denying the deity of Christ (saying that Christ was only human, not God) and blaspheming the Holy Spirit aren’t enough for you, please take a moment right now to do some soul searching and ask yourself why that is. These people are blaspheming your Savior and you’re going to defend them? Denying the deity of Christ alone is enough to put a “church” outside the camp of Christianity. It is one of the damnable “another gospels” Paul refers to in Galatians 1:6-9.

But maybe seeing more of the fruit of the poisonous NAR tree will help:

“Holy” Laughter. The NAR blasphemously attributes this to the Holy Spirit, disregarding the fact that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control and that God demonstrates throughout Scripture that He is not a God of chaos, craziness, and confusion, but of orderliness and peace.

 

Fake and delusional prophecies. Pick any biblical prophet and read his prophecies in comparison with this. And don’t forget what the Bible says about false prophets.

 

Fake “glory clouds” of “gold dust” and “angel feathers” (glitter and feathers placed into the ventilation system) released during the worship service as a supposed sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit. I guess Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit and the many promises of His presence in the New Testament aren’t good enough.

 

Raising the dead. Oddly enough in this age of everyone making videos of everything and cutting edge medical technology, there’s never been a single medically verified, video evidenced resurrection.

 

Being “drunk in the Spirit”. This is not how you do Acts 2:13-21 or Ephesians 5:18-19, two of the passages the NAR mangles to support this demonic activity, which they blasphemously attribute to the Holy Spirit. (By the way, the guy in this video, Todd Bentley, was commissioned as an “apostle” by Bill Johnson, lead “pastor” of Bethel. And shortly after Todd cheated on his first wife, divorced her, and married the woman he was cheating with, Bill Johnson “restored” him to ministry. You can see video evidence of both of these things here and here.)

 

And if that’s still not enough for you, there’s fake faith healing (language warning- this was written by a non-Christian who, by the way, did not hear the gospel when she went to Bethel) including kicking people in the face and other forms of assault to “heal” people, grave sucking, and demonic tremoring. Then there are the incidents from overseas that you hear of from time to time such as the South African “pastor” who made his congregation crawl around on the lawn eating grass and drink gasoline to be closer to God, or the Kenyan “pastor” who ordered women to remove their bras and panties before coming to church so God could enter their bodies more easily, or the Zambian prophet who took it a step further and removed a woman’s panties in front of the entire congregation so he could pray over them for her infertility, or the South African woman who died because her “pastor” placed a heavy speaker on top of her and then sat on it to demonstrate God’s power.

You may not see this kind of craziness in every service at every NAR “church” but every single one of these incidents and practices (and so many more) springs from the same unbiblical theology of the New Apostolic Reformation.

Including Cory Asbury’s choice of the word “reckless” when he wrote the song Reckless Love. Cory is a product of the theology he’s been immersed in for so many years.

And that’s the main problem with churches using songs in their worship services from groups like Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, and Hillsong, which teach “another gospel”. In the same way that marijuana use can serve as a “gateway drug” to more dangerous and addictive narcotics, Reckless Love itself might not do too much damage, but…well, as I explained to another reader in a previous Mailbag article False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music:

It’s imperative for churches to be discerning about the CCM they use in worship. If Jane Churchmember hears a CCM song in church and likes it, she’s likely to Google the song (probably right there in church- I’ve done it!), find out who sings it, and begin following that artist. Worship pastors who use CCM have a responsibility to vet the artists who perform the songs they select for the worship service to make sure they’re not sending Jane into the arms of a heretic. Additionally, music costs money, and you don’t want your church’s offerings supporting false doctrine.

A common objection I see Christians make to this concept is:

Well, [insert name of hymn writer here] wrote lots of perfectly biblical hymns, but he had some theological problems too, and you’re not recommending we get rid of all of his hymns.

Well, first of all, maybe we should more closely examine the theology of some of our most prolific hymnists and stop using their music because of what they believed. Quick – off the top of your head, name the three we should start with…

…And that’s what separates the errant hymnist from Bethel, et al. Most Christians, even those who prefer hymns over CCM, could probably not name three people who wrote hymns, let alone tell you anything about their theology. But if you ask the average Christian to name three top Christian artists, she could rattle them off in a second.

Most hymn writers have been dead for up to hundreds of years. They don’t have Facebook pages you can follow, nobody’s playing their stuff on KLOVE, they’re not on tour to promote their latest album, and they don’t have thousands of followers worldwide. If you wanted to follow their errant theology, you’d have to hit the books to research and study it. The NAR musicians’ theology is only a click away on YouTube, social media, live streamed concerts and conferences, and on their web sites. Nobody is following dead hymnists’ false doctrine, but hordes are following NAR musicians’ heresy.

And as for music that springs from heretical theology pointing people to Jesus? Ask this wiccan young lady who went to Bethel and was told by someone “prophesying” (supposedly speaking what she heard God say) over her:

“I feel the Lord saying to you that He is very pleased with you. You have been so faithful to Him. You have been faithful to His Word, even when though there are many people telling you that you are now going the wrong way. But God knows it isn’t true. He wants you to know that He is proud of you. God knows that you are walking with Him and He is so proud of your faithfulness.”

She wasn’t pointed to Jesus. Nobody explained the gospel to her or told her she needed to repent of her sin. Instead, she was affirmed in her sin and told that she was, in fact, “walking with God” and “faithful” to Him when she was living in witchcraft (which earned the death penalty in the Old Testament) and had never put her faith and trust in Christ for salvation. And all of this by someone who was claiming to speak for God Himself. The Bible says it’s impossible to please God without faith in Christ.

This kind of music doesn’t point people to Jesus. It points them to the NAR version of Jesus, which, as evidenced above, is not the Jesus of the Bible. If someone puts her faith in the NAR version of Jesus, she’s not going to be saved, and she’s going to spend an eternity in hell. The Jesus of the Bible said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Nobody is getting to Heaven through any other version of Jesus except the Jesus of the Bible.

OK, now I’m aware of what the NAR teaches and I’m definitely not getting sucked into any of that! What about just listening to Reckless Love when I’m alone in the car? I believe what Cory said about why he used the word “reckless” and I’m OK with that.

That’s between you and God, but let me ask you a question as you prayerfully consider what would be pleasing to Him. What if, instead of the word “reckless”, Cory had chosen the words, “f—ing awesome”? And what if he had explained that, to him, that phrase just meant “really awesome” or “super duper awesome”? That, in his song, it didn’t have the vulgar meaning most people think of when they hear the f-word? Would you, based on his explanation, still sing that song?

Of course not. Because words mean what they mean, not what we want them to mean.

Cory can offer explanations about what he intended by the word “reckless” until he’s blue in the face. That doesn’t change the actual meaning of the word, which is what most people understand it to mean when they hear it. And, furthermore, Cory isn’t following the song around to every single person who hears it and explaining what he meant by it, so most people will hear “reckless” and assume it means what it actually means, not that Cory used the word “reckless” and meant something else by it. That’s not how human language works.

In considering whether or not to listen to this song, spend some time in God’s Word studying the way God wants to be approached by people (rather than how you want to approach Him) and how He reacted when they approached Him improperly. Remember, everything we do should be governed by Scripture, not our opinions and preferences, or whether we happen to like a particular song or not.

The NAR is a dangerous heresy that is sending people to an eternity in hell. People are getting saved out of “churches” like Bethel, not getting saved by them. Consider carefully, prayerfully, and according to Scripture whether God would be pleased by you having anything to do with NAR organizations. “What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Mailbag

The Mailbag’s Top 5

 

While I’m out of town this week, let’s recap The Mailbag’s greatest hits. Here are the five most popular Mailbag articles:


Should Churches Use Praise Teams?

It’s a decision each individual pastor has to prayerfully make as he seeks to do what is
best, wisest, and most godly for his particular church.


What is Calvinism? Semi-Reformed?

It’s OK to hold those things in tension while we’re here on earth. We believe what Scripture says God does, but, where the Bible is silent as to how He does it, His reasons for doing it, etc.,
well, we trust God and believe Scripture there, too.


Should Christians Do Yoga?

The reason the question “Should Christians do yoga?” is even being asked is because there’s doubt in the minds of the Christians asking the question that yoga is kosher with God.
That’s a healthy doubt because yoga is a Hindu worship practice.


False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music

Are there any CCM groups, artists, or songs I should avoid?
Can you recommend any specific doctrinally sound artists or groups?


What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

Since there’s no official NAR creed or statement of faith, beliefs and practices can vary from church to church, but, loosely speaking, the NAR takes the Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) heresy and kicks it up a notch with outlandish “supernatural” manifestations, blasphemously attributed to the Holy Spirit.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Ministry, Throwback Thursday, Worship

Throwback Thursday ~ Real Ministers of Music’s Wives of Anychurch, U.S.A. ~ Part 2

Originally published April 10, 2014diverse-group-of-women

I’ve been married to a minister of music for over 20 years. My husband has served at many different churches in a variety of capacities: on staff, interim, supply, revivals, conferences, retreats, etc. Over those 20+ years and in those various capacities, I’ve observed a number of things about him, pastors, church musicians, and congregations from a unique vantage point.

Now, with a little help and a lot of input from a few sister minister of music’s wives, it’s true confessions time. Time for us to tell all, here in Part 2 of Real Ministers of Music’s Wives of Anychurch, U.S.A. 

You can read Part 1 here.

Turn Your Radio On, and Listen to the Music in The Air
The minister of music understands that there are songs we love to sing along with on KLOVE or Pandora that we’d also like to sing in church, and, in a lot of cases, he’d probably like to, too. There are a variety of reasons why the songs we like might not get sung in church:

  •  It’s a solo. Most of the songs we hear on the radio (especially contemporary ones) are written and performed as solos, and don’t work for congregational singing because: the timing is difficult for a large group to follow, there are too many spontaneous riffs and change ups, there are complicated and/or numerous bridges and tags that are difficult for large groups to follow, etc. Not every song works for large group singing.
  • tube-radio-67772_640 The lyrics contain faulty or watered down theology. The minister of music’s job is to lead us in worship. We can’t worship if we’re singing something that conflicts with God’s word or doesn’t focus on Him and His nature, character, and deeds.
  • The accompanists aren’t comfortable with it. A lot of the songs people want to sing in the worship service can be difficult for pianists and other instrumentalists whose main experience is in other genres of music. While every musician should strive to improve his skills, the minister of music doesn’t want to put his accompanists on the spot if they’re uncomfortable with the technical requirements of the music.
  • Your minister of music isn’t comfortable with it. If the minister of music is in his 60’s he may not feel he can carry off a top ten CCM song made popular by somebody in his 20’s, especially if he doesn’t have a worship band equal to the one we’re used to hearing on the radio.
  • There’s no sheet music available. Or it’s not available in the right key or for the right instruments, etc.
  • It’s “off limits”. Occasionally, and for various reasons, the pastor, elders, or others in leadership over the minister of music will make a decision that a certain song is not to be used in the worship service. Depending on the circumstances, there may not be a diplomatic way to explain this to people who love that song and want to sing it in church.

play-piano-7626_640Play Us a Song, You’re the Piano Woman
Just by way of information, not every minister of music’s wife plays the piano. I’m one of them. Sorry. I wish I could.


One Singular Sensation
sing-201027_640
Regardless of how many pop stars got their start by singing in church, the purpose of the worship service is to worship God. There are many wonderful and talented soloists who, in humility and faithfulness, pour their hearts out to God in song at their local churches and do a great job of it. There are also a few divas on their way up the ladder looking for a stepping stone to greatness. Church isn’t American Idol. Find a karaoke bar.

Show a Little Bit of Love and Kindness
It’s always encouraging for a minister of music to hear that he Fool boy is waiting his girlfrienddid a great job with the choir or that you really worshiped this morning. It’s encouraging when a pastor mounts the platform for his sermon and says thank you, or I really liked that song, or refers back to/quotes one of the songs during his sermon. Little things like that go a long way, so offer your minister of music a word of encouragement when you can.

Also, if your church participates in clergy appreciation month (usually the month of October), please don’t forget your minister of music, youth pastor, associate pastor, etc. They all work hard to shepherd you, and it doesn’t feel good to be left out.

War- What is it Good For?
The worship wars (contemporary worship music vs. traditional hymns) are alive and well. Sometimes, rather than being a general in that war, our minister of music might just be a casualty of it.

Competition

Everybody has particular genres of music that we’re most comfortable with. When a different style comes along, it can be jarring. It can cause angst. It can cause arguments. But when we worship God, our focus is not to be on what makes us happy or comfortable. Often, we get so concerned about whether the worship at church pleases or offends us that we don’t stop to think about whether it pleases or offends God.

But that’s the main concern of the minister of music. Which songs, regardless of style, will be pleasing to the Lord and lead people into truth about Him? While he’s trying to do his best to sort this out week by week, he’s possibly being pulled in a variety of directions by a variety of people over style. How many people will leave the church if we sing more hymns than contemporary songs? How many people will stop giving in the offering if we sing more contemporary songs than hymns? Who’s going to accost me after church and complain? How will the pastor and elders react to this week’s order of service? It can be a lot of pressure and take his focus off of where it needs to be: what will be pleasing to God?

Just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, the songs we don’t like might just be someone else’s favorite. What if we looked at singing the songs we don’t particularly like as a way to serve and encourage our brothers and sisters in the congregation who do like those songs?

Why’s Everybody Always Pickin’ on Me?
There’s no nice, sweet way to say this, so I’m just gonna throw it out there. Church members can sometimes be mean. thI mean, mean. Let me hasten to add that most of the time, most church members are not. The majority of church members are kind, loving, supportive, and definitely appreciated by the pastor and staff. However, the others are definitely out there. I have seen church members treat pastors, ministers of music, and other church staff the way I wouldn’t treat a dog. There’s no excuse for that.

The minister of music isn’t perfect. There may be times when he does something unbiblical or hurtful and at those times, it’s necessary for the appropriate person to talk with him, under the provisos of Matthew 18, about whatever is wrong. But there are other times when people get their feathers ruffled –even though the minister of music hasn’t done anything wrong or unbiblical—simply because their personal preferences haven’t been catered to.

It’s OK to talk with our ministers of music about things, even personal preferences, but let’s do it in an encouraging and helpful way rather than a griping or attacking way. Screaming, threatening, name calling, constant complaints, and nasty anonymous notes and emails are never appropriate, and if that’s what is transpiring, then the problem is not with the minister of music it’s with the person who’s acting that way. If we know that a member of our church is acting that way towards anyone, pastor, staff, or layperson, we must intervene and be a catalyst for making things right.

God calls us to encourage one another and build each other up, so let’s get at it! Let’s try to affirm our ministers of music (and pastors and other staff!) whenever we’re able!

 

What’s something you can do
to be an encouragement to your minister of music?

Ministry, Throwback Thursday, Worship

Throwback Thursday ~ Real Ministers of Music’s Wives of Anychurch, U.S.A. ~ Part 1

Originally published April 3, 2014 

four-women-walking-in-a-line-holding-handsI’ve been married to a minister of music for over 20 years. My husband has served at many different churches in a variety of capacities: on staff, interim, supply, revivals, conferences, retreats, etc. Over those 20+ years and in those various capacities, I’ve observed a number of things about him, pastors, church musicians, and congregations from a unique vantage point.

Now, with a little help and a lot of input from a few sister minister of music’s wives, it’s true confessions time. Time for us to tell all…

Sing, Sing a Song…
Singing is often the only opportunity church members have (besides the offering) to take an active role in worship. Let’s all take advantage of it!

congregation-worshippingThe music portion of the worship service is just that: worship and service, but sometimes we can slip into thinking of it as “filler time” before the “main event” of the sermon. If we’re spending the music time chatting with our friends, checking Facebook on our phones, knitting, or clipping our nails (sadly, yes, I’ve seen all of those happen) aren’t we robbing God and ourselves of the precious few hours per week we set aside for worship? Is it fair to God to spend the time we’re supposed to be worshiping on these kinds of distractions? God commands our worship and God deserves our worship. So, let’s give God our full attention and worship Him!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T – find out what it means to your minister of music.
The minister of music doesn’t just roll out of bed on Sunday morning, jump up on the platform, and wave his arms around for thirty minutes. He works hard during the week to plan a worship service that honors God and grows and trains the aretha-franklin-respect-1967-3congregation spiritually. He often does so amid a number of challenges: the varied talents of his accompanists, a hymn request by the pastor or a church member, bugs in the sound system, musicians going out of town, the choir soloist getting the flu. He rehearses with the instrumentalists, the praise team, the choir, and others. When he stands in front of us to lead the music, he deserves the same respect we give the pastor when he preaches or a teacher imparting knowledge or someone at work who’s making a presentation: our attention.

Someone To Watch Over Me
Singing in the choir or on the praise team kinda goes hand in hand with being a minister of music’s wife, so we’re often up on the platform near our husbands. I need to tell you a little secret:

We can see you out there.

It is incredibly encouraging to see people who are focused on Christ and engaged with Him as they’re worshiping. It’s obvious they’re communing with their Savior and thinking about Him as they sing. It makes the minister of music feel congregation-worshippinglike he’s been successful in helping them connect with the Lord in worship.

On the other hand, it’s very discouraging to see people with their hands stuffed in their pockets, not singing, or, conversely, mindlessly rattling off lyrics, and with a countenance that says, “I’d rather be at the dentist.” I once saw a televised worship service where the congregation was singing the hymn, “All that Thrills My Soul is Jesus.” It would be difficult to describe just how unthrilled most of them looked. The word “corpses” comes to mind.

Jesus said to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. When we engage all four of those areas in worship, we’re not just pleasing Him by our obedience, He’s growing us into stronger, more mature Believers. And that’s the best encouragement of all for our minister of music.

Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow
We minister of music’s wives are blessed that our husbands have, for the most part, worked under pastors who are supportive and set a great example for their congregations. Pastors, you have an enormous influence on your congregation even when you’re not aware of it. And one area in which you may not be aware that church members are watching and emulating you, even when we’re not aware of it, is during the music portion of the worship service.

Your congregation can see you during the worship time, whether you’re sitting on the stage or in a pew. What you convey with your own behavior about the importance of worship, we will absorb and reflect. If you are engaged and sing heartily to the Lord, we will get the message that you hymn_singingthink God is worthy of all of our worship and we will follow suit. If you spend the worship time engaged in other activities, we will get the message that worship time is more like the coming attractions before a movie than a time to join in and commune with the Lord through what we sing.

Additionally, when your congregation is actively engaged in worship, it gets our hearts prepared to soak up the message you have for us in your sermon. So, when you’re worshiping with gusto, you’re not only setting a great example, you’re also getting people right where you want them: ready to drink in God’s word!

Part two of this article is on its way next week!

What are some things you appreciate about your
minister of music or worship leader?