by Paul Alexander

The above question is often voiced in various ways: “Why do we still sing the old songs? Why not exchange the hymnals for Power Point choruses, or sing more and shorten the sermons? The “Contemporary Church Movement” blossomed in the 1980’s in an attempt to make the church more appealing to unchurched people. Crosses came down, hymns were replaced with catchy choruses, organs and pianos moved over (or out) for the band, song leaders were replaced with worship teams, jeans replaced suits, pulpits were out and lecterns in, and the mention of “hell” and “sin” became taboo. There is nothing intrinsically Biblical about displaying crosses or singing from hymnals, and we are certainly in favor of reaching people with the gospel. We must always ask, however, “What are the Bible principles involved?”, and “Where does this path ultimately lead?”

Christ’s church (His bride) must never seek to become like the world. When the Bible speaks of “the world” it is referring to the lifestyles, priorities, attitudes and appetites that are characteristic of unsaved people, and uncharacteristic of God. The Bible has nothing positive to say about this world to which many churches and Christians are trying to appeal, appease and conform.

◆ 1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him….

◆ James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

◆ 1 Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. (See also John 15:19; Galatians 6:14; Titus 2:12)

According to Rick Warren, the first step to starting a church is to survey the community to find out what people want in a church, then give it to them [The Purpose Driven Church, ch. 8]. It is insulting, however, for Christ’s bride to strive to become like and to be loved by the very world system that crucified Him. (James calls it “adultery”.) The core premise of the contemporary church and music movement is unBiblical because it promotes conformity of the church and Christians to the world rather than to the holy image of Christ.

The contemporary church movement is producing shallow, worldly Christians and churches. Bill Hybels, the father of the seeker sensitive movement, prominently confessed, “We made a mistake…. Our churches are a mile wide and an inch deep.” [2007 Leadership Summit, Willow Creek Community Church] If the movement’s own leaders do not like where their path has led, why should we travel it?

Attracting the lost to our church is not our Biblical purpose. The church is primarily for the building up of believers to go out into the world and reach lost people who are then brought in to be discipled and in turn sent out to win others. (Ephesians 4) Certainly there is no objection to inviting the unchurched, but we must not change the message or the music in order to be liked by lost people.

The kinds of music widely enjoyed by the world will not move our church (or children) toward godliness. Rick Warren wrote, “Once you have decided the style of music for your worship you have set the direction of your church in far more ways than you realize.” [The Purpose Driven Church, p. 280-281] This striking statement by the world’s foremost contemporary leader is absolutely true and should make us consider very carefully before changing our music. Do I want to direct our church toward the world, or away from it? According to Warren, the style of music we choose helps set the course. Romans 12:2 commands, “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Much of the world’s modern music is a counterfeit of the beautiful music God created and cannot be used to worship and honor Him (i.e. “Christian rock”). “Our music cannot be like the music of the world, because our God is not like their gods. Most of the world’s music reflects the world’s ways, the world’s standards, the world’s attitudes, the world’s gods…. The popular music of the Western world is the music of seduction and suggestiveness, a musical counterpart of the immoral, lustful society that produces, sings, and enjoys it.” [- J. MacArthur, Commentary on Ephesians; For more on Biblical music and worship, request our sermon CD dated September 25 AM, 2011]

➥ We must not dilute our message, ignore Bible principles, employ worship music that is dissonant, harsh, sensual and suggestive, or seek to make the church appealing to the appetites of ungodly people, even to reach them. The true gospel will never be attractive to the unsaved in general, nor will it ever make them feel comfortable. Paul declared, “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness….” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

by Paul Alexander

Original article can be found at http://www.faithibc.com/daily-bible-study/pastor-qwhyq-series-11-20/why-arent-we-qcontemporaryq

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26 COMMENTS

  1. Church should be about the GOSPEL. It all boils down to that! Don’t divide over this issue. I can go in any church and if the ONE TRUE GOSPEL is being preached I can fellowship. Only the Gospel saves.

  2. Hogwash. Why is it that “Godly Christian music” is also white European music? Did this gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ all of the sudden become exclusive to the musical style the author likes. How convenient.

  3. Insightful comments on CCM, shallow, contemporary music.But let us avoid another blind spot. Colossians 3.16 calls for diversity not hymns ONLY. There is rich, lively worship in the Psalms, Scripture choruses are biblical. They shouted and raised their hands. That is biblical. Read Psalms 145 through 150 and elsewhere. Do a word study on the major words for praise in Strong’s Concordance! Praise be to His name!!! God gave us our emotions. Are they just for ball games?

  4. [email protected]
    Born and raised ifb. Weant to HAC. That didn’t work out so well. Surrendered to mission field and went. No support, just went. Have been serving as a missionary for 22 years now. So the concern I have is all sides still strive to appeal to the other. It’s like we are driven by control and jealousy. I have found that some who have “more contemporary music” are actually more spiritual. I have also seen a long hair dude with beard that had a better relationship with God than most. What’s the difference? Rules, convictions, or absence of contemporary services?…. I have found that a better understanding of grace brings liberty. Liberty reminds me of the price paid for it, which drives me to loyalty. Loyalty drives me to comform to His rules….. Not man’s! Comform to Godliness!!! So many things we consider sin are our ways to get people to conform for control. As dr. R.B. Oulette said, “so many times we forget the end of the comandmemt.” Of course the sin of pride, gluttony, and many others we won’t mention. So maybe I’m just venting. Let me share the missionaries perspective.
    I finally try to raise support and many churches won’t have me cause I didn’t finish Hyles. Some won’t have me cause I’m a nobody. Others cause I wear a beard. Some say I’m to liberal, and yet my wife and daughters still only wear skirts (as though that’s the measure of standards). Then I get cut support for being to conservative. Talk about making it difficult to get support…. Support for what…oh yah, to take the gospel to a lost and dying people which we said was our goal all along.
    I have been silent for 22 years and maybe I’m just to old to care what people think anymore. I know this. I am glad I’m saved, I’m so thankful for Grace, and I will continue to serve my Saviour with or without man’s approval.
    I do apologize for grammar and spelling. Wrote via phone and I don’t have spell check….lol
    Thank you to all those who stand for truth no matter what anyone else does or says. You make a difference!!!

    • Jason, I commend you for just going out there and doing it! That is most admirable! You’re exactly right about taking the gospel to a lost and dying people. Yes, that is the goal all along. It’s sad to read the statements you read about not getting and/or losing support.

      May God bless you and your family in your work on the mission field!

  5. This is Kathy Rohrer – just one question is your church growing???? We go to Vineyard Grace Fellowship and we have grown to 1500 people – many finding Christ for the first time and understanding that salvation is in Christ alone – not Christ plus. We do praise and worship and 90% of the time we are singing scripture and I have seen the Holy Spirit move in mighty ways. There is absolutely nothing seeker friendly about our church – the biblical truth is taught and most importantly the love of Christ and the need for a deep relationship with him. We are free in Christ!! Thank you Pastor John Schouten!!

    • Seeker Friendly says we no longer need “Preachers” but now “Teaching Pastors”. Preaching is not popular with todays “Self Centered Crowd” but people can tolerate a good religious intellectual lecture with some spruced up band. Question if all these “Churches” if you call them are bring so many to in, why do we not see a direct result of it in our society and in our country??? Your welcome.

  6. I’m a music minister at an Independent Baptist Church in upstate Michigan. I always follow the lead of my Senior Pastor (whatever he asks of me, that’s what I do–and I do it with gusto I might add). We have a piano and an organ at our church and we mostly sing from old hymnals. Now some might not attend this church because of those old traditions, but I’m okay with this especially because the Holy Spirit has commanded me to do whatever my Pastor asks of me. Note that it doesn’t have anything at all to do with what I want, but what God wants through the Holy Spirit. However, I will say that inside of me the Holy Spirit knows that I listen to many different things from one Sunday to the next (my stereo, my MP3 player, television, in my garage, cutting grass, in my shower, drive to/from church, etc.). About music in the church, I believe there are basically two types of people–one type places their focus on the ‘sound’ they are hearing, the other on the lyrics of the song (or ‘the message’). Now I myself enjoy DIFFERENT sounds (a kaleidoscope of sounds), but mostly I tend to focus more strongly on the message (that is, the words of the song)–that most of my musical ‘magnetism’ I gauge on the basis of how I’ve been impacted by what I am hearing). Now I know this is acceptable for me because I know (through the Holy Spirit or as Jesus named Him, my ‘Helper’), that God is being ENCOURAGED that I am singing about Him and FOR Him (and sometimes this is via my voice but sometimes this is just from the contents of my heart). I believe that anything that brings Glory to God is a good thing (and it’s what God wants of all of us). The Holy Spirit has not argued against me about this because I listen to and enjoy some contemporary ‘sounds’ (on the contrary, I know He is supportive of it’s impact on my life). Strangely, I believe God listens intently to the ‘sound’ of my heart–that is, the result of my having heard and then sung to Words which Glorify Him (in other words, these ‘heart sounds’ are sounds that only God can hear)! And so as I see it, music (all types), encourage me to think about God (at all times of my day and then every day for the rest of my life, not just on special or appointed days either). The music encourages me to sing a song for the Lord–and brothers and sisters, as “off key” as I may be singing my contemporary song in my shower, God has thus used “the words of it” TO IMPACT ME and I am thus moved by it–that I simply must DO SOMETHING, so WHAT I CHOOSE TO DO is sing to God those heart-words (remember that God’s Word says that what comes out over the lips is simply the content of our hearts). And even though He already knows my heart before I speak one word of it (perhaps through song), I can imagine God somehow grinning at this habit of mine (shower-singing)! Folks, the ‘sound’ is just the mechanism of ‘delivery’ for a song’s words. Understand that there exist, churches which do nothing but recite bland, repetitious incantations (lyrics of the song but without a sound). And THIS is supposed to Glorify the Lord? Folks, our hearts should not be filled with BLANDNESS! I believe this goes against scripture–we are to sing a song for the Lord (not necessarily sing a song for others to hear or for our own ears to appreciate or boast about), but GOD WANTS TO HEAR IT! I am reminded here that God’s Word tells us to repent from our sins, but perhaps even more important, that we “SAY IT!” In other words, God demands to HEAR IT! I would encourage churches to first follow their leader (your Pastor) as for ceremonies. Beyond that formality though, I would encourage folks to pray to God about what He would have you do and then if the Holy Spirit makes it known to you … by all means, shower-sing as loudly as your heart (and your spouse), would have you sing! Way too much emphasis is being placed on this topic–if you don’t get God’s message from the music at the church you’re at, then find another church that suites you! In church and outside of it, Glorify the Lord! And let the Holy Spirit convict you of your path (in ALL ways, including music). Personally, I think it’s more important right now that the church (God’s church), dispense with the indignity that comes from arguing whether my music is satanic because it ‘sounds like’ it to you. And no, personally I don’t listen to the screaming zombies or whatever they call it–although if someone else does (and assuming the Holy Spirit has guided their decision to do so), then what the rest of us should do then is to pray that our brethren are in fact, being guided by God–and then leave it alone–let God handle it!

  7. I am thankful that I am not at radical as some, or as liberal as others. Like most, I have found balance is just right. Sadly, those to your left think you are too radical. Those to your right believe you are too liberal. Like me, I am sure the readers believe they too have found that balance. Aint it great to have that assurance? That’s the blessing of being an Independent Baptist!

  8. BROTHER JASON, ARE YOU AWARE OF ANY OTHER PREACHER BY THE NAME OF SPURGEON WHO WOULD MAKE THE ABOVE STATEMENT? ALSO, THE TITLE OF MY ARTICLE IS “FOR ALL WHO THINK THEY ARE NOT CONTEMPORARY.” NOT, “WHY WE ARE NOT CONTEMPORARY.” MY POINT IS CLEAR. BY THE ABOVE STANDARDS, MOST BAPTIST CHURCHES ARE CONTEMPORARY, AND THOSE MEN WOULD NOT PREACH IN THOSE CHURCHES. ALSO, MOST BAPTIST WOULD NOT AGREE WITH HIS FIVE POINTS OF CALVIN. SO, YOU TO YOUR QUESTION.

  9. I agree with you. Articles about music, instruments, Power Point, dress, hair, wire rimmed glasses, pants, sideburns, facial hair, pre-recorded music, and the Bible on computers is so shallow, one finds it a waste of time to discuss. I remember hearing an evangelist criticizing churches for being “a mile wide, and an inch deep.” Churches do not have to be shallow to be wide. However, if I had to choose, I would choose a mile wide and an inch deep, over a mile deep, and an inch wide. Usually that criticism is nothing more than jealousy. These other issues are preferences, and we all have ours. Finally, we know we can force the Scriptures to justify any “standards” we assume we hold.

  10. Shallow article. There are good points to be made on both sides of this debate. None made here. However the debate is a waste of time, like many issues that show the again shallowness of many “Christians”

  11. WE ALL KNOW IT IS A SIN TO SURVEY A COMMUNITY BEFORE STARTING A CHURCH, I JUST CAN’T FIND A VERSE THAT CONDEMNS IT.PASTORS WHO THINK THEY DON’T TRY TO ACCOMMODATE THE COMMUNITY ARE A BRICK SHY OF A LOAD. WE MOW THE GRASS, HAVE ATTRACTIVE SIGNS, HAVE PADDED PEWS, HAVE AIR CONDITION, HAVE USHERS AND GREETERS, PAVED PARKING, FIRST CLASS ADVERTISEMENT, AND A HOST OF OTHER THINGS TO ATTRACT AND KEEP PEOPLE WHO VISIT. IS THE ONLY BEEF MUSIC AND POWER POINT? I AGREE, IF RICK WARREN DID NOT EXIST, WE WOULD HAVE LITTLE TO GRIPE ABOUT. HE WILL BE GONE SOON, THEN IT WILL BE SOMEONE ELSE. WE WANT TO BE CONTEMPORARY, JUST NOT LIKE THE OTHER GUY.

  12. It never ceases to amaze me how much the ifb church world revolves around Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. If they weren’t around what would you write about?

    • 533 out of the 538 articles on this website don’t mention those guys, so we seemed to have found more to write about. I kind of find it hard to believe that three articles on here that mention them make up the majority of what we write.

  13. FOR ALL WHO THINK THEY ARE NOT CONTEMPORARY
    For those of you who fear the brethren and think you have not “moved the ancient landmarks” we submit the following. The men listed below would have nothing to do with the fundamentalism of today.

    Spurgeon said, “… What a degradation to supplant the intelligent … by the theatrical prettiness of a quartet, bellows, and pipes. We might as well pray by machinery as praise by …strings and pipes… We do not need them. That would hinder rather than help our praise…” (Charles Spurgeon, Commentary on Psalm 42.)

    Wesley said, “I have no objection to instruments of music in our worship, provided they are neither seen nor heard.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 685)

    Luther said, “The organ in the worship is the insignia of Baal… The Roman Catholics borrowed it from the Jews.” (Martin Luther, Mcclintock & Strong’s Encyclopedia Volume VI, page 762)

    Adam Clarke said, “… Music as a science I esteem and admire, but instrumental music in the house of God I abominate and abhor.”

    I am not opposed to new music or musical instruments in church. What I am opposed to is that group who think they hold no traditions; that they live by the “ancient landmarks,” and that they and their little crowd are the only spiritual bastion remaining.

  14. This is a good article; I have heard several tirades against “surveying the community”.

    However, far too many IFB churches following men… if instead of Rick Warren, some influential IFB man recommended surveying the community, I’m afraid too many would hail such advice as great wisdom instead of preaching against it. The Scriptures must be our final authority in all things, not who happens to be promoting some idea or other.

    • One can “survey a community” without compromising Biblical principles. Rick Warren is adamant in compromising Biblical principles, and that’s why his method of surveying the community is suspect.

    • I believe it was the Apostle Paul who surveyed Athens before effectively preaching Christ from their perspective. He said I Corinthians 9:22, I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. But then, I have seen IBC split because Peter Ruckman KJV followers ran their pastor off for not believing The KJV was the inspired Word of God (rather than an accurate translation from the Received Text or Textus Receptus), which by the way that used to be Peter Ruckman’s view in the mid 70’s.

      But about music. Yes, it is true and sad that many churches have abandon the great hymns of the faith; but yet, we must not become stagnant by not appreciating new songs. Has anyone heard Don Fransisco songs such as Gotta Tell Somebody or He’s Alive? Those songs were written in the 70’s, Listen to them on you-tube, How would you rate his music, worldly or contemporary, or maybe God honoring? Music should be from the heart, centered around biblical truth and Christ honoring. Styles change.

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