To be Lutheran is to always be pointing to Christ.
I think it actually pops out better here. I will put the HTML version out in a subdirectory of customclientdata.com to make it easier sometime this weekend. I just can't access my CCD webservers from workTim
Tim, I wish that WELS contemporary worship even vaguely resembled how you describe it on that chart. Sadly, though, it's much more like your description of seeker services.
Tim ~ where have you seen this type of comtempo worship. I have visited several WELS services that have CW and it is not like you outlinel
I would have to ask the same of you. Where have you not seen this? I see this every Sunday at my church. I can only speak about two others. My point would be that if you don't see this, you should. It might also be why I find it strange there could be so much criticism about it. We'll keep it short and get back to watching Wisco stick it to Marquette HS. Lutherans beat the Catholics againTim
I found the insightful book, "The Fire and the Staff" by Klemet Preus to be written in an understandable style for one who is musically (and intellectually) challenged like myself. Pr. Preus makes the case for why music is not neutral, why specific music is associated with the hymns of the Lutheran church and why secular music should be avoided. Not to minimize his entire book to those points, but if the music dominates the lyrics, if it creates an emotional response at the expense of the intellect, if it takes the focus away from Christ and what God does for us and places the focus on us or what we are to do, it should be avoided. He also addresses the development of the Divine Liturgy and how the specific parts speak Scripture and why using popular music (because it always changes) hurts the church and divides. What I took from it is that the music, not just the lyrics, should be different in church than popular culture because how we worship is how we believe.Rob
I've heard this argument before and read a little bit about it (that is, some music focuses on emotions, some music focuses on the tune; while other music focuses on the text and the head/intellect).I don't doubt the truth of the argument.My question is, though (and I am looking for enlightenment): How do you know/prove that a song is in one category or the other?Is it as simple whether you learn the tune faster than the words, or vice versa?(Because if it is, that's a dangerous standard to set, because I'm sure that there are some perfectly good, great hymns that people know the tunes more than the words...so I'm reasonably sure it's not that simple.)I'm not asking sarcastically, I'm asking honestly. I do agree that some musical forms and styles are just absolutely not suitable for worship, and that in our freedom we can choose to not use them.
Rob,I've read Rev. Preus' book as well, and found it to be very helpful. You may recall that in a previous post I quoted at length from a Baptist minister named Dr. John Piper. Shortly after reading his work, I read Preus' work, and found it to be an excellent Lutheran rejoinder to Piper's "Christian Hedonism" nonsense. In fact, given that they are both from the same area (Preus' 500-member LCMS congregation and Piper's ~5000-member congregation are both in the Twin Cities, MN), I got the distinct impression that Preus was in some ways responding to fallout from Piper's influence in the area. Anyway, I thought that Preus' book was good enough to have given several copies away to my Evangelical friends (yes, they have a lot of good, unread books on their shelves...).The section you speak of, in my opinion, communicates quite well some of the reasons that congregations should avoid music from pop-culture for use in the Divine Service. His presentation, however, leaves unanswered the difficult question that TexasPastor asked "How can you tell if a modern song plays to emotions or plays to the head?" That is, Preus (inadvertently) leaves the reader wondering what formula can be used in sifting through every permutation of lyrics, rhythm, tone progression, instrumentation, etc., in the search for suitable contemporary songs to use in the Divine Service.In my opinion, the question isn't difficult to answer because it is hard to know, it's difficult to answer because it is hard to say (because it's hard for those who are psychologically dependent on pop-music to hear): "Pretty much all of it should be excluded."It's important to realize that the term “contemporary,” when applied by "Contemporary Worship" advocates, does not merely mean "new" -- even though they try to get away with saying that's all they mean. My wife and I are season subscribers to Classical music performances, and we hear "new" music all the time -- but it is definitely not what one would call "contemporary." Indeed, as randomdan pointed out in a post to a previous blog, for years John Rutter and Arvo Part have produced "new" works for the Church, which can in no way be considered "contemporary" by those who want to use "contemporary" forms in their worship. "Contemporary" in their mind is really musical forms that have been made popular in the entertainment marketplace of pop-culture. In a previous post on this blog, I wrote at length regarding the inescapably emotion-centric drives that dominate pop-music forms (Here), so I won't repeat it again. But, as anyone close to the music entertainment industry can tell you, whether you're a garage band competing for attention from local venues (which I have direct experience with), or an established local band trying to get the attention of larger regional venues and record labels (which I have indirect experience with), or are competing on the national scene, it is a fact that, in the final analysis, the “art” in pop forms has very little to do with musical integrity. Most of the “art” in pop forms is in the entertainment quality of the performance -- without such entertainment quality, “new” music simply does not become popular, and therefore never receives the exposure required for “contemporary” status by those who are dependent on pop-music forms. Dragging pop-music forms into the Church not only feeds such unhealthy dependencies, it carries the imagery and worldly associations that accompany its rise in popularity, and places the Church Militant in a severely exposed position -- the whim of secular promoters who profit from music entertainment. Pop-music is popular not because it is the natural preference of those who hear it, not even because it is the natural preference of those who perform it, but mostly because it has been successfully tailored and promoted by those who seek to profit from it.Freddy Finkelstein
It's kind of the Justice Potter test too -- "I can't always define music that's unworthy for church, but I know it when I see/hear/smell it."(One cool test a former ELS pastor who now attends my congregation gave me goes something like this: In Bible class some Sunday, sing a favorite weak/contemporary/evangelical (whatever you want to call it) hymn. Then have people write down what that hymn says/means. Then sing a solid hymn, e.g., "A Mighty Fortress," or anything by Gerhard, Luther, etc. and do the same. Notice that for the weak/bad/contemporary hymns, the variety of opinions on meaning. Notice for the "good", solid, Lutheran hymns, the meanings are clear. Try it at home, in Bible class, with your worship committee...I'm going to try it soon!)The answer comes back to, as always, education. It's the silver bullet. It's why I'm spending the month of September outside the Pentecost pericope. Each week will highlight one of Luther's four principles for Christian/Lutheran worship -- Gospel predominates; People participate; History of the Church is honored; God's gifts are used. We must educate ourselves and our people on the Rites of the Christian Church, help them see the value in the liturgy we use and do over against the liturgies (Yes -- so-called non-liturgical churches are liturgical, just as non-denominational is really a denomination) other people use. Most importantly, this is being done in the context of our normal liturgical practice -- the Rites of the Western Church (even the often mocked Service of the Word; we do rotate our rites at my congregation: Word and Sacrament, Service of the Word, then two weeks of Common Service; Morning Praise on Fifth Sundays) -- hopefully helping people to see that what we do and the way we do it (that is the rites, the types of hymns we use, our preaching, the Sacrament) is all because it is God's Law and Gospel in action! Because these Rites proclaim Christ -- who He is, what He's done, what He's doing -- first and foremost!What we must be careful of, though, is somehow implying that other liturgies don't communicate the Gospel. Just as Rome, Constantinople, and Geneva have the Church among them when the Word is proclaimed and the Sacraments administered (rightly), so too in contemporary worship, when the Word is being proclaimed the Spirit is at work. Though sadly under so many pounds and tons of heretical manure. But it's there, just as Luther pointed out the number of priests and monks, who on the deathbed, pointed parishioners to Christ on the cross.The warning we'll give though, is that, especially in much of so-called Evangelicalism, they're already playing with two strikes, for they have removed one sacrament and damage another, and the Word doesn't always live front and center in their worship. They have problems. Rome has problems. Constantinople has problems. Geneva has problems. It's why we practice fellowship.Which is also why we can value our Rites -- for you can't help but see that the Word is present, the whole service is the Word. And the Sacraments are rightly administered (hopefully more and more often at the Altar...I know I'm working towards it where I am).As Prof. Tiefel would (and does say) about so many of these things, "Sure, you can do it; but why would you?"
For me, the heart of the question is why change the Divine Service? Arguments are made for those in favor of change (I will avoid the CG label) that it is all adiaphora and we have freedom to do whatever is in good order; the old stuff is boring; contemporary reaches the youth which saves them or grows the church; traditionalists are legalists; it makes church more fun; it's a brave new world; we can/should offer both; we need to take advantage of the talents of the members; we need to be less offensive to new members or visitors, it's always changed with the times, we need to be all things to all people, etc.But why change the Lutheran church? This is all readily available in many American Evangelical churches in most neighborhoods. The "selling point" (please notice the quotation marks) is having something historic, consistent, scriptural, reverent, unified and different from everywhere else solely focused on Christ crucified. There are a number of us that left mega-churches that rocked with professional quality performances, had dynamic pastors, emotion-filled experiences, small groups, gift-of-the-spirit discoveries, a plethora of bible classes, numerous activities, private school-like Sunday schools with professional educators for our children, PowerPoints and video feeds, movie clips, poetry, performance artists, contemporary design, StarBucks and hugs, holding hands, sharing tears, shorts and flip-flops, the beautiful people and celebrities, for what? For the Lutheran church with Word and Sacrament and a focus on salvation by Christ-alone.Rob
One topic that may need to be discussed in this vein is the reality that our worship services (like it or not) are most often our largest or greatest opportunity to share the Gospel with the most "unchurched" people. Does that play into this discussion?
"Sure, you can do it; but why would you?"All too frequently, it seems, the answer is becoming "Well, why not?" Adiaphora seems to get interpreted as "I'll do whatever I please because I can," without the careful and sober-minded judgment we are called to exercise in our freedom. Unfortunately, such juvenile sensibilities are represented in the practices that result from them. As Rob points out, above, the Lutheran Church is an orthodox church, our theology is christocentric. Our worship practice, therefore, ought to clearly represent these facts, by keeping the Marks and Christ central. Any practice that forces Christ or the Marks to compete in importance with anthropocentric entertainment forms ought to be rejected.The Lutheran Church is also a "catholic" church, or so our Confessions would inform us. It represents the outflowing of 2000 years of Christian faith and practice into the present, and projects it into the future. Our worship practice, therefore, ought to clearly represent this fact, by making sure that historic forms dominate. Any practice which overemphasizes modern forms, modern settings, modern instrumentation, etc., so as to make these "modern" forms of expression disproportionate with those of our past, threatens our catholicity, and ought to be rejected. Mouthing "appreciation for the past," while cultural forms no older than five decades dominate the church's worship expression, is no more "appreciation for the past" than mouthing agreement with the Confessions -- without ever having read them, or ever referring to them -- is "Confessional."The Lutheran Church is Church. It is not a Professional or Civic Organization, it is not a Social Club. It is Ecclesiastical, not Secular. As members of this Ecclesiastical Estate, as citizens in the Kingdom of Grace, we are the Church's Ambassadors to the Kingdom of this World. The congregation is our Embassy, our home in a foreign land where our Church's culture and practices are preserved and enjoyed distinct from what happens outside of it. Indeed, it is a place of shelter and escape from the assaults we endure outside of it. Our worship practice, therefore, ought to clearly represent these facts, by avoiding the direct importation of worldly forms, or the use of modern forms which represent a longing for the pleasures of this dying world. On the contrary, our worship ought to be happily “other-worldly.” Any practice which threatens to confuse the great distinctions of our citizenship in the Two Kingdoms, ought to be rejected. The Lutheran Church -- our Synod in particular -- is a Church united in doctrine and practice. Unity is not a byword with us. Our worship practice, therefore, ought to clearly represent this fact, by our voluntarily avoidance of divergent worship practices and by brotherly submission to one another's approval of our practices. This is accomplished through the publication of our Synod's hymnals, which encourage uniformity in practice, while at the same time respecting adiaphora by providing several liturgical settings and several hundred hymns representing a balanced selection from throughout the church's history. And these hymns/settings were not produced by musically/culturally illiterate pastors or renegade laymen, but by theologians who have devoted their lives to musicology and to providing our Synod with edifying Lutheran worship -- who have been Called by us for this purpose. These men understand our theology, our Confessions, and fully appreciate adiaphora along with it's limitations. Even so, some on the right will criticize their work for being too liberal, those on the left will criticize it for being too conservative. In the main, most will agree that it is suitable, while maintaining preferences for certain hymns and liturgical settings over others. There is sufficient freedom here. More importantly, within this freedom we are still able to express our Unity.Freddy Finkelstein
Anon @12:13:Yes, it does. Tim's chart at the head of this blog represents an attempt to delineate "Seeker Sensitive" services from "WELS Contemporary" services. "Seeker Sensitive" services would be those which place Evangelism as a primary criterion in liturgical order and hymn selection. It places Evangelism above the Marks (as some of our churches are apparently doing, removing the Supper from the Divine Service to avoid offending visitors), threatens Law & Gospel preaching (by watering down the Law, primarily), threatens the expression of strong theology in our preaching and in our liturgy, eviscerating the service itself from communicating the Gospel (which our liturgies and hymns do so well), and forces our services to placate the pleasure drives of worshipers, rather than focus on Christ. While we all on this board seem to agree that this “Seeker Sensitive” garbage is the wrong motivation for ordering the Divine Service, we are having a friendly go-around with Tim and company regarding how much “contemporary” is healthy.To emphasize some of the problems with maintaining Evangelism as a primary criterion in ordering the Divine Service, I'll respond to the premise, and then quote myself from another blog entry. First, I question the premise that “most often our largest or greatest opportunity to share the Gospel with the most 'unchurched' people.” Our greatest opportunity for Evangelism isn't one hour on Sunday morning, but every breathing moment we spend in the company of others, in the context of our Vocations. If it is a rather sad reality for a congregation that, collectively, their greatest opportunity for evangelism is one hour Sunday morning, then what better way to share the Gospel than through a liturgy and hymnody that continuously focuses a person on Christ and His work on our behalf? Why “reinvent” the service in a way that focuses a visitor's thoughts on how well his physical/emotional/psychological needs were met by the worship experience, rather than how Christ has fully met his eternal need (which is what our current hymnody and liturgical settings already do)?Anyway, here are some additional thoughts that I have previously offered on this blog, directed at this very question: “Any practice which elevates worship experience as an Evangelical tool, to a status anywhere near equal to the proclamation of Law and Gospel, is abusing both Worship and the preaching of Law and Gospel. Worship is a forum in which those with faith in the objective promises of God's Word offer their sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to Him on the basis of His completed work on their behalf. Those without faith have nothing to offer in such a forum. In fact, their offerings are offensive to God -- the Bible states directly that He turns Himself from such offerings, and rejects them. To draw unbelievers into the church on the pretense of worship experience is to sinfully draw them in on the false pretense of the efficacy of their worship sacrifice. The fact is, God hates the worship offerings of the unregenerate...” Worship is not evangelism. Worship is what those with faith in the objective promises of God do, it is not what the unregenerate do, nor is it a forum which God has provided for them. We should avoid giving such indications in our worship practice.Freddy Finkelstein
Well said, Freddy. I appreciate your posts about the impact and danger of contemporary worship (limiting my compliment to that so you won't get the proverbial big head, though I'd still be interested in your thoughts if you research the confessional Lutheran movement as deeply as discussed in other posts), I've personally been confused as to what worship actually is, its purpose and how God views it. Your point about the offensive worship offerings of the unregenerate is quite profound to me.Rob
Freddy,Thanks for the post. You state: "Why “reinvent” the service in a way that focuses a visitor's thoughts on how well his physical/emotional/psychological needs were met by the worship experience. . . " I don't believe that is what Tim is offering. I don't believe all WELS "contemporary" services do as you state (and I believe they should not).
I agree with anonymous @ 8:55 PM. I would also like to note that it appears Tim is the only on this site that dares show his face. What does this say?
Thanks Rob -- by all means (well, all fair means), keep me humble. My neck is too thin for a big head... :)Anyway, the hub-ub created by the Berg's and others in recent posts has prompted me to begin a new study of the Confessions. Something about what these guys are saying seems out of balance, but I can't put my finger on it -- so I'll need to investigate. While I've read through most of the BOC (here and there at various times), I've not studied it from the perspective of “Confessionalism”. So that is what I am going to do now. I've just re-read Ch. V of C.P. Krauth's Conservative Reformation, which is a most powerful apologetic for Confessions and their mutual dependency on Fellowship, and is a strong exhortation to sound judgment in these matters. These principles are not trivial things. In Lutheranism, Confessions and Fellowship have played the same role that torture and execution have played in Catholicism, Calvinism, Anglicanism, etc. -- that of keeping us separate from errorists. The “Confessional Principle” has protected us from these barbaric practices while protecting us from errorists, and has earned for us the civilized stature of “a church of theologians, [which] has the most learning” (Phillip Schaff, quoted by Hay & Jacobs in their translation of Heinrich Schmid's Doctrinal Theology). Anyway, I now have in front of me Schmauk & Benze's The Confessional Principle and the Confessions of the Lutheran Church. It's not a small book, so it will take me awhile to get through. Not until I've absorbed this material will I re-read BOC -- perhaps then I will have a more clear basis on which to respond to those on the High-church end of this worship debate. The charge that we are Confessional in confession only, and not in practice, already seems to be a serious charge. I'm not sure that it is entirely unfounded, nor am I certain that it is entirely accurate.Freddy Finkelstein
"You state: "Why “reinvent” the service in a way that focuses a visitor's thoughts on how well his physical/emotional/psychological needs were met by the worship experience. . . " I don't believe that is what Tim is offering. I don't believe all WELS "contemporary" services do as you state (and I believe they should not)."Of course that's what WELS contemporary services are doing. Contemporary worship does exactly what Freddy described. Thus, if WELS congregations use contemporary worship forms, that's exactly what they are doing. It's a simple logic problem people!Contemporary worship focuses on emotion at the expense of the Means.Some WELS churches use contemporary worship forms.Thus, some WELS churches focus on emotion at the expense of the Means."I would also like to note that it appears Tim is the only on this site that dares show his face. What does this say?"It says nothing. You can't criticize anyone for posting anonymously if you yourself are posting anonymously.
I spent a little time looking at dear Tim's blog. It has a link to his church's blog. There are some blog posting from "Pastor Ben". (Ugh. If I went to see a doctor who said, "No, call me Dr. Bob!" I would be looking for a new doctor. It shouldn't be any different for pastors.) There was also a blog post by our own Tim, which contained the most disrespectful pictures I've ever seen.http://www.victoryofthelamb.com/images/SnowboardinJesus.jpgThis is what contemporary worship teaches us. Jesus is our buddy who's just like us and makes us feel happy when we hang out with him. Contemporary worship denies the transcendent majesty of the Holy Lord, in favor of a buddy who gives us warm, fuzzy feelings.Disgusting.
Anon 8:55PM:That was a rhetorical question directed at "Seeker Sensitive" services, or the idea of elevating evangelism criteria to primary consideration in making liturgical and hymn selections. Yes, I agree that Tim is opposed to this (he states it directly in his chart at the head of this blog entry), and if I implied that he is not opposed to this, then that was poor wording on my part. My apologies.You, however, state: "I don't believe all WELS 'contemporary' services do as you state..."There is a difference between intent and effect. Although I doubt very much that most who advocate "contemporary" music forms intend anything but good (some have removed the Supper from the service, while intending to do good), the negative effects mentioned in this blog, and detailed extensively in other blog entries on this site, in many cases cannot be avoided regardless of intent. We must be clear on what these dangers are, and be ready to warn those who would, in their zeal and ignorance, flirt with such forms and suffer the manifold detriment they lead to. To this end, we must disabuse ourselves of the notions that "Contemporary Worship" advocates merely mean "new" music (on the contrary, they mean “new” music specifically of pop-contemporary forms), that worship forms are amoral, or neutral (they are not, and the liturgical principle of lex orandi, lex credendi informs us of this), that lyrics are the center of contemporary musical forms as they are in the Church's hymnody (they are not, rather, human experience dominate such forms), or that lyrical content can be changed to “neutralize” the anthropocentric experientialism of contemporary forms. These claims simply fall on their face when subjected to close examination.On the other hand, I do think that contemporary advocates are more than willing pitch the catholicity of Lutheranism out the window entirely, that they are willing to overlook doctrinal error that is taught by contemporary music forms (indeed, such forms have been deliberately chosen and developed by the heterodox because they inevitably do teach and reinforce such error!), and that they are willing to threaten our unity, just so that they can have “contemporary” forms. Such willingness, I submit, is suggestive of something more than zeal. My effort in posting on this blog, and elsewhere, comes from nearly thirty years of first-hand experience with contemporary forms, and their inevitably detrimental impact. It assumes that those who advocate “contemporary worship” in our circles do so out of zeal in a good thing, but equally out of ignorance -- who will also willingly check or redirect their zeal in the face of better judgment. My intent is to inform, to give others the benefit of my knowledge and experience in this matter (such as it is), that they may make use of this knowledge in their own spheres of influence, to make them more effective at exposing the danger inherent in these forms. The question remains, however, what do we do with those congregations that continue to spurn such warnings? What is to be done when we are convinced that they ought to know better? At some point, I insist, this does become a Fellowship issue.Freddy Finkelstein
Anon 8:28 AM,It could mean a lot of things:Tim is more computer savvy than most. Tim likes the way he looks, others do not. Is that really Tim or a cyber-character? And who are you?Rob
All it means is that I am not hiding anything. If what I post is wrong then it will be known that I was wrong. I'll probably even confess it publically if its proven to me. If what I post is right ...well no one here would think that so we won't worry about that.. :-) Although I don't think my picture adds much to the conversation, I definately am not short on self-esteem.I think of this forum as still a group of brothers in the faith. A group I could go to Denny's with at 6:00am for a mediocre breakfast and go back and forth about this stuff over coffee and greasy eggs day after day. I hardly think I'd have to meet a group like that anonymously.So there might be some who feel that way here. Some may feel more like a fiery reformer and that someone as myself is an evil among us and wish to cast the likes of me out into the darkness. Needless to say they don't need to come to breakfast.I know this is all off topic but if you wonder why I hang out here, it is for enlightenment, debate, and as a bit of a check on my own ideas and attitudes. Already I have a heightened awareness of where some Lutherans may be coming from. I always want to understand where people are coming from. I also now have a bit more knowledge on what things should be paid attention too. I now do a lot more research on the songs I play for pre-service to check the lyrics even though I don't think any listens to it. I now look at various elements in our service to see how they rate on the emotional-meter. Its things like that that are beneficial to me. I don't give too much away about my actual beliefs here. I'm pretty sure no one knows my liturgical background and my love for it and for the beauty of hymns..and often I like the TLH versions better...my time as a church organist, and my snobbery against lame church organs and pipe organs, or the complete drudgery of WELS trained organists who never discover the beauty of 32' pipes and that there are actually more than 6 stops that could be used on the organ. Dare I say that we constantly sing the wrong tune for Almighty Fortress? Oh yes we do. "Be a chum vote 201". Everyone should sing Handel's Messiah once in their life. Hardly any of you could have a larger collection of pipe organ music and classical music than I do. Yet I also belong to an all contemporary mission and much of what I've known for the 1st 36 years of my life is different now. The last 4 years have been spent in the contemporary worship world. My basic contention in all this is that although the dangers that are pointed out here in exceedingly great detail are a possibility I do not believe as Freddy that they are inevitable. I believe conscientious individuals who strive to stay within the bounds of the Word can pull off a worship service that is Lutheran and Christ centered. I believe that what at least I/we do is so unlike evangelicals that I can't even compare them. That the foundation of bad theology that evangelicals employ lead them to create flawed services that appeal to that bad theology. That its not the having of a band or multimedia content that is the culprit its the bad foundation and a desire to use these mediums to manipulate and stimulate. I have a hard time subscribing to Freddy's contention that music is designed to elicit emotion. Probably because for me the only music styles that elicit emotion from me will be classical or pipe organ with some of the great old hymns. Can't say as I have ever finished or not gotten choked up on a hymn like Amighty Fortress or I know that My Redeemer Lives but I can't think of a time I've gotten emotionally involved with a contemporary song. To some degree I don't think contemporary adds a lot in the way of energy to a service at all. It adds "different" but not really emotions. Some people like different. Some people like my children who have had a healthy dose of liturgical, some evangelical, and now 4 years of blended contemporary just prefer the contemporary (my kids were a little freaked out by the evangelical stuff from their school) I can go both ways. Actually I also would love a smattering of a Taize service once in awhile. You know we will never agree but I appreciate the insights you give me along the way.Tim
If you're such a big organ snob, how could you (twice) call Luther's hymn "Almighty Fortress"? Perhaps you should spend less time snowboarding with Jesus and more time actually singing the hymns you claim to love.
Because the snobbery of the sound of organs does not carry through to snobbery about title snafu's of great hymns. Since I do most of this typing on my blackberry in boring meetings or at lunch you should be happy that I don't resort to texting speak. The inaccuracy would probably kill you. I would love to snowboard with Jesus!!Tim
Tim,I'm glad that you have found benefit from the discussion here. Even if you don't fully agree with me on some of these issues (or all of them?), I hope that I have at least played some part in the benefit you have derived here. I suffer no illusion that your mind (or anyone else's) will be easily or completely changed. Personally, the best I could hope for is that you are willing to re-examine what you are doing with heightened sensitivity to the issues expressed here -- as you describe.Although I use sharp rhetoric, I hope that nothing I have written here is construed by you as questioning your faith or intentions. I do endeavor, however, to issue strong warning. Music is not amoral. Today's contemporary forms and instrumentation, in particular, are very powerful tools of emotional manipulation. They are designed to be. We should not underestimate this power. While those of us with musical background may be more immune to the effects of contemporary music (since for us music is more of a cerebral or technical exercise), we should not underestimate its effects on the average person. Indeed, if you visit a club, you can always tell who the musicians are -- they are the one's standing in the corner watching the band. Everybody else is jumping up and down, bopping, writhing, freaking, or some other weird thing!And for the record, my favorite hymn is a contemporary hymn in CW: Thy Strong Word #280.Freddy FinkelsteinBTW: I'd be willing to take you up on your Breakfast at Denny's offer. Milwaukee is a little far to drive for me, but I'd be willing to meet you halfway -- perhaps some Saturday morning in Tomah?
How can this argument be concluded? As one in the "Confessional Crusader" camp (it's a broad brush and I'm a low level team member, but a believer), I haven't seen anything from the pro-contemporaries that is persuasive. Yes, I admit I'm closed-minded at the moment, but if an argument could be made from Scripture, the Confessions or even history (as some have done in defense of the Divine Service), someone like me might be convinced to the value of making Lutheran worship more pop. As I type that out, I see that is a tall order since the historic is discarded as no longer relevant. Subjective examples (or judgments) do little to convince me that the Divine Service is adiaphora.(To John, as to the removal of your last post, I wasn't telling you how to run your blog. I was posting it in hopes that someone from the contemporary side could offer a more compelling argument. My apologies. I appreciate your efforts in what is most probably a thankless arena.)Rob
Rob,I, too, have grown through the thought-filled discussion. I decided to pull the latest post for several reasons. One of those being a discussion with Pr. Johnson.I am a bit frustrated and do wonder if the battle has been lost. More WELS congregations are diving into CW. The defense is often that a traditional service is also offered. I do appreciate the perspective that Tim has brought to the blogging world. At least he is able to talk about the use of CW.I am especially thankful for Freddy's historical and wise counsel. I would like to understand why pastors have decided to lead their churches down this CW path? Are your members asking for CW?BTW - I wouldn't mind a Denny's breakfast too. :)
Our church and pastor seem fairly conservative, but I learned that doesn't mean confessional. We get the substituted hymns and what not, but nothing particularly dramatic. I've expressed my concern over the whole CW thing. It sounds like the battle has been lost for now in some churches. From prior background, I've been wary of the professed unity within WELS from day one. My other big concern has always been how the WELS roots has made it the church today and will that ever change. I've heard of a few confessional WELS - and all certainly say they are. It seems the best we can do is on a church-by-church basis. We don't have a lot to choose from around here in the Southeast. Cracker Barrel is more popular than Denny's around here, but if you're coming south, let me know.Rob
John --I just finished a response to your recent blog entry, the one you removed. My response seems to have addressed some of the frustrations you express, above. For what it is worth, here it is:With respect to your questions, and maybe I missed the point in "Pastor Rick's" blog entry, I'm not sure he was extending his congregation's situation to the WELS in general, I think he was referring to his perception of the situation in his own congregation -- Christ the Rock.Q: Is this perspective accurate?My answer: Maybe, probably -- again, I read his blog as referring to his congregation, not to the WELS in general. I assume his reading of his congregation is accurate. I don't, however, think that his perspective is a characterization of the WELS in general -- that there is no "Worship War" and that WELS has already abdicated to "contemporary" worship. I know of too many Pastors who want nothing to do with this stuff because it threatens to overthrow their authority and the prominence of the Pastoral Office, and because it is not catholic expression. In my opinion, the battle lines are still being drawn. Frankly, "Contemporary Worship" advocates like "Pastor Rick" have grown too confident, and too Q: Are the worship warriors the only ones fighting?My Answer: No. Even in "Pastor Rick's" blog he was maneuvering for the nice-guy high-ground, which I read as "All I want is my freedom... that's all..." I reject the notion that adiaphora in worship is a wide-open field, unfettered by the requirements of sound judgment or by Scripture that does not directly address the topic of worship (for crying out loud, we are not free to commit murder if only we call it worship!! there are boundaries to our freedom!). We are obligated to point out those boundaries and to insist that our Brothers respect sound reason in areas of freedom.Q: Is there anything in practical terms that lay people can do or is the war over?My Answer: As much time as we spend writing on these blogs should be spent in personal and persuasive discussion with fellow laymen in our congregations. Our Pastors, as well, should be made aware of our concerns. Not only do they consider our concerns in the context of their leadership in the congregation, they carry those with merit with them to the Circuit (and District) level, as well. More than once, my own Pastor has indicated how concerns he shares with me regarding "Contemporary Worship" have been expressed by him in his Circuit meetings, to dissuade other Pastors from engaging in these practices. Some Pastors need more dissuading... Our Pastors are our Pastors, to be sure, but they are our Brothers as well -- they need and deserve our encouragement like the rest.I would, however, warn of being considered an imbalanced zealot. Everyone here has experience with the overbearing guy who, though he may be as right as rain, is just plain weird. He's got no friends. He's irritating. Though he tries, nobody really pays attention to him. Don't be that guy. Persuasion takes place in the context of relationship. Be personable, be respectable, be convincing, but be authentic. Follow your conscience. Know your topic and pick your battles. Don't give up.Freddy Finkelstein
John,You ask if members of my congregation are asking for "Contemporary Worship." Not really, not yet. Most of those inclined to consider it are, for the most part, our musicians. No one else is moving in this direction or asking for it.Our musicians, however, are not what I would call "competent Lutherans." They mean well, but their arguments are shallow and transparent. They just want a venue to exercise (and in some cases, display) their talents. Our elders, and other congregation leadership, however, are not at all convinced that this is a good thing to do. Instead, they are calling for more education on the symbolism used in our liturgical worship, in order that our members may more fully appreciate it, they are moving toward having our acolytes and others who assist Pastor in the Chancel wear robes to signify that they are functioning under Divine Call, they considering requesting that visiting Pastors preach from the pulpit (the symbol of the Office of the Keys) instead of wander around on the floor of the Nave, and they are also going to request that visiting choirs (such as the one from our local ALHS) sing from the balcony rather than from the Chancel.At the same time, however, we have positively excellent organists (three of them in a congregation of ~150 communicant members! Sorry to hog them all!), and we pay for their continued Organ lessons. There is no complaint regarding the quality of the music on Sunday mornings. We also use other instrumentation to accompany the worship, such as brass, woodwinds, and sometimes strings. Since many of our young people play in their school band (brass/woodwinds), this gives them a direct opportunity to use their talents to assist in our worship, as well. And it is most appreciated.Freddy Finkelstein
Is there any way that we can clone Freddy?
I was thinking this morning that I'm glad it's not up to me. What I mean by that is we know God is in control. If it were up to me, I'd fail and give up. But just like we've said to the CW crowd, the Holy Spirit will do His job despite us, through the Word. Elijah thought he was the last of Israel, but there were 7,000 more. God provides for the birds of the field, will He not provide what we need? It's frustrating at times. It will be this way until the end, but He has given us everything we need in Christ. We are but beggars.Rob
An addendum to my last post, this week for Sunday School we had a WELS mission counselor. The church had ordered a Percept study of our area. The mission counselor was there to review its findings and provide some recommendations.Of particular note after discussing all the particulars of the area's demographics:1) We should consider blended worship. He said what makes the church Lutheran is not the type of songs you sing (Amy Grant is as good as Martin Luther), but the general confession and absolution, confession of a creed, administration of communion, preaching of texts and something else."Are we clear on this point?" I was already depressed by this point.2) We should offer soccer or basketball camps unless local recreation facilities are doing a good job with those. This is not bait and switch because it's what Christ did at the well with the Samaritan woman with the water.3) The focus should not be on theology. You can change it to a spiritual discussions as opposed to calling them bible lessons. "See, see the difference? Of course there'll be a bible lesson."4) His church dropped the Lutheran from their name and marketed to the community relentlessly to the point whenever anyone in the surrounding area is asked about that church, they know it by the brand, not as a Lutheran church. "What is that? What is Lutheran? It does nothing."5) You've got to find out what the community needs, service that need and then you'll be able to share the gospel.6) There is only one gospel but there isn't just one way to distribute it. To the nodding heads of several.Anyone have any experience with this Percept study or mission counselors?Rob
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