Posted tagged ‘Pass It On’

The Challenge of Speaking The Same Language…in Church!”

August 12, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                     August 12, 2015

              

What is a hymn?

How you answer that question may actually say something more about your age…or lack of…than anything else.

If you answered that question with responses such as “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, “In the Garden”, or “Blessed Assurance”, chances are you are over fifty years old.

“If you answered that question with such songs/hymns “Blessed Assurance” (again), “Majesty”, and “Pass It On”, you are probably under fifty by a few years or a couple of decades.

Why would I say such a thing? I hear quite often from the senior folk of my congregation the desire to sing more hymns. We try to balance our worship between hymns and praise songs. Recently, however, a revelation occurred to one of our musical members when she was talking about what hymns are. The younger folk she was in conversation with thought that a hymn was any song in our current hymnal…which includes each of the songs I listed in both sets of responses above.

That makes sense, in that they are in the…hymnal! But those who have been around for a few years would tell you that “Majesty” is not a hymn because…it just isn’t!

It speaks to the fact that any church that is a mixture of ages will have situations occur where people assume they are speaking about the same thing, but they really aren’t. It’s a cultural disconnect in the church.

When I was growing up and someone was asked whether they went to church the answer would be “yes” if they were there every Sunday. Some might even have said yes because in their thinking being a part of a church meant you were there every Sunday morning and evening, and every Wednesday night.

If that same question is asked today the answer could be yes, but the determining criteria for the one who answers is completely different. If a person attends Sunday worship once a month he characterizes that sa being intimately involved in his church. The typical church member now attends Sunday worship 1 to 2 times a month, whereas in my young days it was 3 to 4 times a month.

It is the same topic…are you very involved in your church’s ministry…but the definition of “very involved” is seen different.

What happens too often is that people, fallen in nature, misread other people they never  discover are speaking the same language in different ways. Instead of grace entering into the conversations sometimes suspicion and presumptions become the gap fillers.

The challenge for any church is creating that environment where people can hear those who are different than they are, while also feeling like they are also being understood.

Songs That Sing To Me

June 5, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   June 4, 2014

 

                                  

 

As a pastor I get tired of the “music wars”, the battles over how many hymns, praise songs, and contemporary music selections we sing in worship on Sunday morning. I doubt that David envisioned the polarizing that music would bring into a worshiping community when he sat with the sheep and composed Psalms as he strummed his harp.

The thing about music is that its eternal…if we allow it to be. How foolish it is to use music as a battlefield! We all have preferences. I’m not into rap, but I can still envision the Almighty tapping his toes to a song that has more rhythm than I could ever harness.

As I look back over my life I see songs popping up at different times that have stayed with me, and have melted into my spirit. Here’s three:

“Pass It On!” After my sophomore year of high school I spent a week of my summer vacation at church camp at Judson Hills Baptist Camp in northeastern Ohio. It was a great week that included living in a teepee, having a girlfriend, Clara, who lived across the street from me back in my hometown (A little awkward after we broke up a few days after returning to civilization!), and learning about God. At our evening campfire we would sing “Pass It On!” Forty-plus years later I can still hear the mix of the soprano voices of the young lady campers and the strange voices of the boys who weren’t sure if they were heading to the “bass section” but weren’t committed to being tenors either.

It was a defining summer that headed me towards considering the idea of one day being a pastor.

“Color My World!” My high school prom theme was also the Chicago hit. I can remember strolling through the gym with Mary Cronacher on my arm dancing to the soft music and realizing that young ladies smell good! Underarm deodorant became a friend of mine about that time. A guy couldn’t be a jock and be able to dance closely for very long with a young lady who had a scent of apple blossoms blessing my nostrils. I can still hear the brass of the band as they played that song.

“Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?”  Larry Norman’s song that was rocking and rolling as I was graduating from high school. Nothing like that had ever come close to the ivory keys of the church’s piano, and Norman’s long flowing blonde hair made it even more radical for our Baptist young people’s group. That summer after high school I learned that it was okay to not look stoic as you sang in church. Some of the parents of our youth group members were not so sure, and I would lay money on it that our church’s deacons’ meetings included some serious discussion about the road paved to hell by rock and roll!

Three songs that still sing to me and remind me of where I’ve been, the boy I once was and the approaching of manhood that they hummed me towards.