As a new believer I was all in; headfirst, in love with Jesus, on fire and offending every single person I met. I was the one who had their hands up for every worship song the leader played. I loved Christian music. I left off pop and country and went all in to listening to songs about God’s glory, God’s majesty and God’s grace. His grace was enough for me, and I prayed that He would continue to “Empty Me”. But, as I grew in the Lord some of those songs we sang at church started to bore me, they started to become empty. The same chorus over and over again started to feel more like a chant than it did singing. The years went by and lights were added, better sound was brought in, and before we knew it, it was less like a worship service and more like a rock concert. Worship began to give me a headache, and the old traditional hymns started to woo me back to Him. Leaving a contemporary Christian worship service for a traditional one with hymns was a huge leap for me. But it is also the first reason why I chose to leave the Contemporary church and why I hope I never have to go back.
There is nothing really wrong on the surface with what the Christian music scene is putting out there. There is biblical truth in some of them, and they really can get your feet moving and your hands clapping. They really can make you feel good about you. They can be very entertaining. But do they really bring you to an understanding of who God is? I don’t think so, because now that I am on the outside looking in, I see that all they ever really did, (no matter how many times I raised my hands or cried over the chorus of some of these songs) all they ever really did was make me feel good about me. And let us not forget that it’s not about ME!
“Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thanksgiving in your hearts to God.”
Colossians 3:16 ESV
Colossians 3:16 ESV
As I read these words written by Paul I think about modern day worship. Do these songs teach us anything about God? Do they admonish us to live a more Christ centered life? First and foremost, I think we have forgotten what worship is. Worship is not an emotional experience for you to feel good about yourself because you sang some really catchy songs at church. It is not a series of songs sung by a group of people, repeating the same chorus over again until the whole sanctuary is raising their hands in an emotional response with tears streaming down everyone’s faces. Worship is the way we live our lives and has very little to do with singing- period.
Worship is what God calls us to do, and we worship God when we live holy, obedient lives before Him and before man. You can sing a fast song to start the service, then a slow song to get everyone feeling all close and near to God, and then end the set with a few fast songs to get them awake enough to listen to the pastor; but none of that helps anyone lead a life of obedience before God. What it leads to is a you centered life. Just look at the state of the church today. It is all about you, me and how it makes us feel. Worship in the church today leaves you with an emotional high based on selfish feelings. That, my brothers, is not worship. That is a rock concert.
The second reason why I left the contemporary church is because I wanted- no- I needed a church that was focused and rooted in the Word of God. The more I grew in my Christian faith the more I desired to live an upright life before God. I saw a lot of pride in the “non-denomination” I left and unfortunately, I found it everywhere in the modern day contemporary church. It seemed like they were always telling people how great they were because they taught word by word, or they had this great and awesome youth program. They would actually put down other denominations from the pulpit! That my friends, is wrong, you should run like the wind from a church if it’s putting down other’s from the pulpit! It’s like they were out there on the streets not sharing Jesus, but sharing all the great programs they had to offer. They were more into marketing their wares then they were sharing Jesus Christ. They might have preached some of the word on Sunday, but they were as far from Christ as they could get on Monday.
As my eyes were opened I also saw a decrease in sincerity and an increase in dishonesty within the church. They would hug me on Sunday, tell me they loved me, tell me they would pray for me, and pat me on the back to tell me what a great job I was doing serving, but not one of them had anything to do with me Monday-Saturday. The occasional Wednesday night service, or one of the many clubs (a.k.a ministries) that we would attend together might bring us a little closer, but really, there was no follow through, there was no genuine love. Why? Because teaching the word of God is not the same as living the word of God. If you don’t live then your teaching will just tickle my ears and make me, (once again) feel good about myself.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner beings, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith- that you being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breath and length and height, and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
The word of God should ground us, it should plant us and it should grow us. But much of what I see in the contemporary church today is more about becoming the next mega church, rather than rooting and grounding those already within its walls. The modern church today wants to experience God; they don’t want to know Him. For if they truly knew Him they would begin to follow Him and His word instead of the next New York Times Bestseller on “How to Grow Your Church”.
Get back to the word of God- please! Simply teach it and live it and God will give the increase. Why we think we have to change the way we do church is beyond me! What I saw in the contemporary church was fluctuating numbers and no consistent growth. There was an appearance of growth and the pastor would always make a comment (from the pulpit) about how the church as growing, but it never stayed consistent. Some months we were bursting at the seams and other months we were worried we wouldn’t be able to keep the doors open. The attendance was a roller coaster and the tithes, let’s face it, were not blessed. Many churches are struggling today because they have lost their focus. Teach the Word of God and just like in the book of Acts, God will give the increase. It. Is. That. Simple.
The last and final reason why I left the contemporary church was because the “trappings” of traditions that so many contemporaries run from bring a freedom and an openness that I find lacking in the church today. You can’t hide behind the lights, sound systems and stages in a “traditional” church. You can’t hide behind the music, the programs or the many clubs you offer the kids and adults. You can’t put on a show and pump the people up to feel good about themselves. Traditional, God focused, Word focused churches don’t leave room for secrets. Traditions reveal truth. We have become a church that hides behind the music, the clubs (or what we like to call ministries) and the events we offer to draw people in. We have forgotten what it means to be the church and instead are trying to do church. My brothers, we have left our First Love.
I don’t want to feel good about myself after attending a church service. I want to be edified. I want to know that my roots just grew a little deeper and I have been fully equipped by the Whole Counsel of God to go out on Monday and do the work He has prepared for me because I went to church. I go to a church that has went back to the word of God. We are what some of my friends have called “traditional”, and some have said too traditional. I can whole-heartedly say that I thank God for leading me to this traditional church because in it I found the True Church, the real body of Christ. A church that is solid and its foundation is sure because it has been built fully and soundly on the Word of God. Not on the music, not on the events and the clubs they offer, but the Word of God. I know this foundation is sure.
The modern day church, in my opinion, cannot say the same thing. Because they change with the times, the culture and the next best worship leaders. Their ministry leaders have revolving office doors, if one doesn’t perform they bring in another one that might. If the people don’t like the way someone is leading the worship, then they bring in someone who can give them what they want. Have we forgotten that God does not change? He is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. The modern day church is built on sinking sand, on every wind of doctrine that comes it way. It is tossed to and fro upon the next big thing. Don’t get lost in it. There is nothing wrong with tradition. There is nothing wrong with singing hymns that edify you, convict you and bring you to bow humbly before your God. Give me a hymn that pricks my heart over a song that makes me want to clap my hands any day. Give me a hymn that makes me want to dig into the scriptures to see if these things are so. I don’t want to dance; I want to grow! I will take the tradition over your contemporary because in the end, it has never changed, and as far as I can tell, neither has my God.
This is why I have left the modern day contemporary church and I pray that, Lord willing, I never have to go back.
This blog is my opinion. I know that some of you are going to read this and get on the defensive and say that contemporary music, church and all that I wrote about has its place. God has blessed it. That is your opinion. But in the end, when all the trappings of the music, and the lights and the hype fall away, what will you be left with? Ask yourself that and then I think you will understand why I left the modern day contemporary church.