Jesus welcomes doubts, questions, confusion, frustration, venting, and disbelief. He welcomes those who draw near and say, “I feel so far.”
If you haven’t talked to him in a while, he will not bite your head off.
His arms are always open. Jesus can handle your clenching of the teeth and shaking of the fist. What he does not want is for you to stay there.
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“Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.”
— C.S. Lewis
One of my absolute favorite quotes by our brother Lewis.
At retreats, revivals, megachurches, and your average Sunday service, there is always someone in the back who has lost sense of it all. The music blaring, people hollering, lights piercing, front row hopping, lead singer strutting, fog machine fogging, and bass drum beating the guts out of your bowels. Right in the middle of it, you get detached and distracted and disillusioned and you see it for what it really is. Whether you’ve been in church for ten minutes or ten years, this whole stageshow can wear you down instantly. One Sunday you’re enveloped in bliss; the next Sunday you’re watching with arms crossed, a migraine setting in, every riff on the electric guitar an assault on your brain. Everyone else is singing triumphantly but you don’t get it anymore.
While we can chalk this up to an anti-institutional mind of a younger, skeptical generation, we do suspect that praise and worship in the local church has strayed from something pure, raw, real. We’ve flooded the congregation with so many artificial devices and cues that it’s hard to tell if the Spirit is actually working.
I’ve heard, “What you win them with is what you win them to.” When you show a funny video every Sunday with high-caliber production values, it creates a strange appetite for slick perfection. No need for the Spirit. No room for reliance. It’s scary to think that an entire church service full of thousands can be built without one move of the Holy Spirit himself.
The church should certainly be excellent at all it does; as D.C. Talk once said, “If it’s Christian, it oughta be better.” I am not a hipster advocating outdoor church with hemp-made chairs and a bearded surfer with a banjo. Yet when I read the Bible and look at today’s church, something is lost in translation. Most of all, that guy in the back with his arms crossed has lost intimacy with the King. He only sees the crude plastic scaffolding of desperate entertainers and pragmatic preachers, but none of it fully reveals God on His sovereign throne.
Continue reading “What About The Guy In The Back? – Why Bigger Worship Is Not Better Worship”
Contemporary praise has changed like crazy in the last decade. Simple G-chord progressions with easy-to-sing vocals have been updated with blazing guitar riffs and loud anthem chants. Every new praise song is in a higher key than it should be. There’s a lot less about Jesus’ work on the cross and more about our response to Him. Some of these changes have been great, some not so much. But overall I love the direction that praise is going: more physical, energetic, open to joy, and more in tune with our brokenness. The following is a list of worship artists that continue to shape the church with strong lyrics, great music, and no compromise.
Continue reading “Another Top Ten List: Top Ten Worship Artists”