In my internet travels, I happened upon a church website. It is of IFB persuasion (that’s Independent Fundamental Baptist for the great unwashed among my readers). The slogan on their website stated proudly, “It’s a place where going to Church is still like going to Church!” I’m assuming they said this due to the previous statement of they are Bible-preaching (a good thing) and that they sing “time-tested hymns…. with enthusiasm” (not a bad thing, either).
Now, as anyone who has either read my blog from the beginning (that amounts to 1 total person I think) or those who may have gone back and read previous entries, I am a lover of all things hymn related. I even wrote a post about it last year. From that entry, I stated,
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the music at my church. I think it is pretty high quality in fact. But sometimes, I think that as we’re integrating in the new worship music, which I LOVE to listen, we also can’t forget the heritage of hymns that have so sustained the Christian church for so long. And we don’t have to sing them like a funeral dirge or even with organ music (gahhh… organ music). I think many current, contemporary Christian artists are also realizing that we can’t just ignore hundreds of years of worship music history. From Martin Luther to Isaac Watts to Fanny Crosby to the Gaithers to Chris Tomlin… the church has such an amazing history of Worship Music.
I also said,
These songs are essential to the modern church. To paraphrase a hymn title, they are the ties that bind. It was what kept church across this country and the world even unified to a point. You could visit any church, take out a hymnal, and pretty much know the tune or the words. Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, no Denomination, but the music was basically the same.
So, I again, I love me some hymns. But, for this church (and others in the IFB movement) to seem to think that because they sing only hymns (and enthusiastically at that!) they keep church more like “church” that’s just wrong.
Seriously, “It’s a place where going to Church is still like going to Church” begs the question… what is going to Church? You mean back in the times of the Early Church? Did they have an opening hymn, a welcome from the pastor and prayer, a few songs, a choir special, an offering, a sermon, and then an invitation and closing prayer? What about our brothers and sisters who met secretly in homes in the Soviet states? I don’t really see anywhere in the scriptures where it says WHAT a church service must include?
What about those that don’t use hymnals, but instead use a powerpoint display on a wall-mounted screen? Do I have to stare at a hymnal for church to be “still like going to Church”? And what hymns should I sing? Can I sing some of the newer hymns? Which ones are proper and deemed to fit in the “still like going to church mold?” I’ve been in IFB church services and heard a soloist sing a song by a Christian Contemporary artist (although it was snuck in and sang to Piano accompaniment). I even heard the members of that church “enthusiastically” shout “Amen!” at the end of said song.
Church worship has evolved so much over the years. At one point Christianity didn’t have the hymns so many traditional churches sing now. Was that in the “still like going to Church” mold?
My church must not be like going to church. We don’t sing hymns alone… we tend to have more of the Praise song vibe going on. But, we do sing those enthusiastically! We don’t have just the piano and organ thing, either. We have (GASP!) drums, even! On display… on the platform… the same place the pastor preaches! Oh and he doesn’t always wear a tie. And we don’t have a traditional “offering collection” either, and sometimes, we don’t always do an invitation. Oh, and we don’t have deacons, we have elders. Oh, and we don’t have Baptist in our name, either.
But, I dare ANYONE to tell me that my church is wrong. I dare anyone to say that going to my church is not like going to church. My church sees souls saved regularly, and my church has awesome ministries that reach out to the community (such as a rockin’ MOPS group – shameless plug) , and I have met some of the Godliest people I have ever known in my church. I have people I can turn to when I need prayer, and I know they are full-blown prayer warriors. I have felt conviction during sermons. I have gone forward in a service, even – stepping out of my comfort zone. I have cried tears during worship feeling God’s comfort as I was going through such a painful trial. I have seen church members go through back-breaking trials and stay true to God as His faithfulness is the only thing that sustained them. So don’t tell me that going to my type of church is not like going to church.
I am not going to judge anyone’s particular style of worship. If you want traditional, good for you. If that helps you, good for you. But don’t think that your style of worship is superior or ordained by God and that mine is not just because it is different. You are going to be really surprised when you get to Heaven and Chris Tomlin or Lincoln Brewster or Darlene Zschech is leading worship along with Fanny Crosby, George Beverly Shae, Bill Gaither, and Handel.