The Contemporary Worship Papers, 1st Place

And here it is, the 1st place paper from our little presentation of essays from the students at Fairhaven Baptist College. Students were assigned to write a short paper explaining what is wrong with contemporary worship, and why we must contend for the issue.  As an incentive, I promised to post online any articles that I thought were well-written and compelling. 

Our first three posts offered the “honorable mentionsand the top ten.  Over the last two days, we have offered the number three and number two entries.  Today, we give you first place.

Lydia Johnson

Contemporary worship proponents focus a great deal on lighting. They spend thousands of dollars on laser lights and hazing equipment. The lights are their emphasis. They do this to “create an atmosphere to encounter God.” This idea purely is pantheistic.

With so many churches turning to contemporary worship, Independent Fundamental Baptists may ask themselves, “What’s the big deal?” These churches are bringing in people by the hundreds, some even thousands on Sunday morning. Contemporary worship is flawed because it creates a false atmosphere, and it makes no demands on the sinner.

The first issue with contemporary worship is that it creates a false atmosphere. During a contemporary worship service, the house lights go down and all eyes are on the stage. This is not an atmosphere of worship, this is a concert atmosphere. Contemporary worship proponents focus a great deal on lighting. They spend thousands of dollars on laser lights and hazing equipment. The lights are their emphasis. They do this to “create an atmosphere to encounter God.” This idea purely is pantheistic. A brief study of Eastern religion presents the idea of “encountering” god through nature. God does not make us “encounter” Him, He seeks for His own and desires His children to seek Him. God promises in Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” This is not an aimless wandering, but a deliberate search. God promises to show Himself when His children seek for Him with their whole heart.

group of people inside disco house
Photo by Thibault Trillet on Pexels.com

Finally, contemporary worship is flawed because it makes no demands on the sinner. The philosophy of contemporary worship is “come as you are.” This mentality never allows for any growth. It cheapens God’s grace to say that God accepts everyone just the way they are. God accepts sinners in spite of what they are! He sent Jesus because He could not accept sin. The sinner does not come to God pleading his merits but pleading for mercy. The “come as you are” mentality would rather have believers remain worldly than to scare away any newcomers by their conformity to Christ. Romans 12:2 is a command, not an option. The contemporary worship movement would rather gain popularity than follow the direct order of their Master.

The Contemporary Worship Papers, 2nd Place

Here is the promised 2nd place paper, from my perspective.  As I have mentioned, these papers were written as part of a lecture series on “Earnestly Contending” that I have delivered at Fairhaven Baptist College.  Students were assigned to write a short paper explaining what is wrong with contemporary worship, and why we must contend for the issue.  As an incentive, I promised to post online any articles that I thought were well-written and compelling. 

Our first three posts offered the “honorable mentionsand the top ten.  Yesterday, we revealed the third-place entry.  Today, we give you second place.

Jenna Wilson

They put up their stage lighting to “feel the presence of God” when it only takes away from the One that they are supposedly worshipping! It no longer is a service to worship the Lord, but a concert to please the flesh…

The church service used to be one of holiness, righteousness, and fully focused on God. Preachers hid behind God’s Word in the hope of reaching souls. Music was for the sole purpose of honoring the Lord. But contemporary worship has crept in unawares corrupting what once was holy and God-honoring. The people of God do not come to church to worship Him, but to please themselves.  Contemporary worship has taken over the Lord’s people’s view of music, dress, the platform set up, and even the lighting of the church. Is this God’s house or MY house?

The music in these so-called “churches” is less God-honoring and more flesh appealing. He is mentioned very little in these “praise and worship hymns”. The music style is so important; it doesn’t just convey a message, it is the message. Is Christ that message?

Style is not just important in music, but dress as well. In today’s contemporary worship services, the phrase “Come as you are” is used. Unfortunately, “come as you are” means “stay as you are.” No change actually happens. With this slogan, contemporary worshipers have developed a “shabbiness” to them. More self-pleasing than God-honoring.

Not only is the flesh pleased in music and in dress, but the platform adds to the flesh’s appetite. The pulpit is removed and is replaced with a trap set. No serious preaching from the Word of God seems to take place.

artists audience band blue
Photo by Jacob Morch on Pexels.com

Lastly, the lighting in these churches has turned from necessary to excessive. They put up their stage lighting to “feel the presence of God” when it only takes away from the One that they are supposedly worshipping! It no longer is a service to worship the Lord, but a concert to please the flesh, all in the name of serving the Lord.

Contemporary worshipers have lost the whole meaning to life–bringing praise and honor to the Lord. “for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). It is God’s house, not MY house!

The Contemporary Worship Papers, 3rd Place

The final three installments will feature what were, in my opinion, the best three of all the papers I received.  As I have been highlighting, these papers were written for a short course I had the opportunity to teach at Fairhaven Baptist College on “Earnestly Contending for the Faith.”  The students were assigned to write a short paper explaining what is wrong with contemporary worship, and why we must contend for the issue.  As an incentive, I promised to post online any articles that I thought were well-written and compelling. 

Our first three posts offered the “honorable mentions” and the top ten.  Over the next three days, we will include the top three, beginning at third place.    

Lily Hall

…it might be time to take a step back from the strobe lights, the beating drums, and the cargo shorts. It might be time to consider that Christ didn’t die so we as Christians could go to a rock concert every Sunday.

photo of electric guitar and drum set
Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

The pride, lust, and overall lack of any moral value that is in our world today seeps through every pore of this generation. Its worship is no exception. Contemporary worship is becoming increasingly popular among today’s “Christian” and there are several reasons why it is an inexcusable way of honoring our Creator. Above any valid reasoning that we as Baptists contending for the faith have for these weak and shallow Christians, towers a question that even the most despicable of these must acknowledge. Is the way we are worshipping causing the lost world to look to a loving Lord? Is it glorifying to the One who saved us?  If the answer is not immediately yes to both of these questions, it might be time to take a step back from the strobe lights, the beating drums, and the cargo shorts. It might be time to consider that Christ didn’t die so we as Christians could go to a rock concert every Sunday. It might be time to contend, and contend more than ever before, for worship that is glorifying to who He is and what He has done.

The Contemporary Worship Papers, Part 2

We continue our series of top papers from our Earnestly Contending Lecture Series at Fairhaven Baptist College.  During a recent two-day course, we assigned students to write a short paper explaining what is wrong with contemporary worship, and why we must contend for the issue.  As an incentive, I promised to post online any articles that I thought were well-written and compelling. At the beginning of each post, I have highlighted a statement that I thought was excellent. 

In our first post, we included three honorable mentions. We continue today with four of the top ten papers, counting down from number 10. 

#10 – Illiomarc Gachette

Hence, we must avoid all contemporary worship because it is not pleasing in God’s sight. It is a misinterpretation of who God is and what He is all about.

In this day and age where people are careless about their music, we as Christians must be wise with our choice of music. If a song has a Christian title, it does not mean it is a song that pleases God. It appeals to the flesh and it is worldly and sensual (I John 2:15-16). It pulls the believer back to the world. Contemporary worship is trying to worship God with worldliness and selfish desires. Instead, godly worshiping is in spirit and in truth. It tends to make the believer stay stagnant instead of moving forward. It is unholy. It exalts the singer instead of the Savior. It confuses the unbelievers (I Corinthians 14:13). Also, it promotes charismatic and nondenominational doctrines. Most of the songs are repetitive (Matthew 7:7). Most of the songs do not have Jesus’ name. It sounds more like a love song instead of a hymn to honor a Holy and Righteous God (I Peter 1:15-17). It dishonors the Lord (Psalms 33:8). It does not follow the standards and fundamentals of holy music. The beat is louder than the melody. The message is unclear (Psalm 68:25). We must be careful about what we listen to. Most of CCM singers and composers do not believe what we believe in the Bible. They mix their doctrines in their songs. Their attire and lifestyle dishonor God.

The songs we listen to do a great deal with the focus and direction of our life. As children of God, we must obey His Word and honor Him with songs that we listen to and sing. God is a God of order. He loves holiness; hence, we must worship Him in holiness. Contemporary worship promotes unholy lifestyles.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:15-16)

And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:3)

Hence, we must avoid all contemporary worship because it is not pleasing in God’s sight. It is a misinterpretation of who God is and what He is all about.  Contemporary worship is rebellious toward a Holy and Just God. It is disgusting in His sight. Contemporary is unholy and unscriptural.

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (Ephesians 5:19)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)

We must worship God the way He wants, not the way we want.

#9 – Cooper Gressly

I grew up in a massive church that used the wrong type of contemporary music, and I can say that is the kind that is wrong. They would often use electric guitars, trap sets, the women would be dressed immodestly, and this is what I grew up around thinking that it was pleasing to God. After 14 years of being at that church I realized that God is not in that kind of music at all. I started to realize that the music I was hearing in the “church” was no different then what I would listen to with my friends. It sounded the same as the world…

The first and most important thing to realize when on the topic, what is wrong with contemporary worship, is that there is contemporary music that is not wrong. The word contemporary can also mean modern or present time.  In the true definition, there are many different songs and music that are “modern” or that have just been written and are not wrong. We have the idea today that the word contemporary is wrong, but it is the music that is wrong, not the word. For instance, Golden State Baptist College has modern songs that they have written and sung, but they are not wrong and could be considered contemporary. I grew up in a massive church that used the wrong type of contemporary music, and I can say that is the kind that is wrong.  They would often use electric guitars, trap sets, the women would be dressed immodestly, and this is what I grew up around thinking that it was pleasing to God. After 14 years of being at that church, I realized that God is not in that kind of music at all. I started to realize that the music I was hearing in the “church” was no different then what I would listen to with my friends. It sounded the same as the world, and God’s name and salvation were never in the lyrics. Satan has deceived many people today in getting them to believe that all genres of music are okay and there is no kind of music that is wrong. I believe most people would change their listening habits if they only knew the truth, the problem is that many people are ignorant of the scriptures and don’t have a close walk with God. Another problem with people today is that they don’t want to give up what their flesh enjoys. Many people know the “Christian” music they listen to is wrong, they just enjoy it too much and don’t want to get rid of it. While music can be a great tool in reaching the lost it can also be a hindrance to the Gospel being spread. Overall the topic is greatly misunderstood today, and Christians need to do a better job at standing up for the truth.

#8 – Caleb Hallman

True worship is surrender and doing God’s will. Our style of worship shows our attitude towards the things of God to the ungodly world that surrounds us.

True worship is surrender and doing God’s will. Our style of worship shows our attitude towards the things of God to the ungodly world that surrounds us. Contemporary “worship” takes away the pesky rules and commandments of God and encourages a freestyle worship that makes one comfortable. The old hymns and choruses clearly gave glory and praise to God and His Son.  Contemporary worship has changed its music to be more desirable to this generation with rock and country music and lyrics that vaguely mention God or Jesus. The rock and roll beat and easy listening country music conform to this world’s music. Dress is very big to contemporary worship. They do not like the stuffy suits and ties and dresses. They actually spend a lot of time and money looking shabby.  How we dress shows how we reverence the House of God. In the Old Testament, the priest had to be dressed a certain way to enter into the presence of God or they would die. However, that is too hard and strict. The main push of Contemporary worship is to “Come as you are.” Contemporary churches have done away with the pulpit, replaced it with a stool, and have added a drum set and electric guitars, screens, iPads, and other electric devices. All of this is a distraction. With the pulpit gone, it turns into a motivational speech or story time instead of God’s Words teaching us how to live our lives. The lights are turned down low, spotlights, laser lights, and fog machines are added and it no longer even feels like a church service.

group of people
Photo by Mark Angelo on Pexels.com

Instead, it’s a Christian concert. With the Christian rock and feel good music blaring throughout the auditorium there is no sense of worship left. The church of God has been transformed into a worldly, feel-good place to rock out with friends and it’s all acceptable because we are to “Come as you are.” Therefore, Contemporary worship is not worship at all, it is a conformity to attract the world. In 2 Corinthians 6:17 Paul told the Corinthians, “Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate.” We are to be an example to this world in all these points, and we must take a stand and not let the world take over the House of God.

#7 – Sarah Hallman

A Christian that dresses shabbily or deliberately dresses down is trying to gain the attention of the crowd, not worship God. As Christians we should be telling the world that we want to please God through the way we dress.

God made us to worship and glorify Him. Biblical worship means to fully surrender everything to God. One’s style of worship is a message to the world telling it how we view God. To rob God of what He wants, Satan has distorted the Biblical view of worship. Contemporary “Christian” Worship is Satan’s and the World’s alternative to Biblical Worship. Four distinctives of Contemporary worship are contemporary music, dress, platform arrangement, and stage lighting.

The pace at which contemporary music has replaced the traditional, God-glorifying hymns and songs used to worship God is frightening. “Christian” rock and country music have completely overtaken the song services in modern churches.  However, there is nothing “Christian” about rock or country music. The overwhelming beat in rock music and the excessive syncopation in country music was not put in that music to worship God. The whole point is that it appeals to the flesh and draws in the World. The Bible clearly states that we are to be separate from the World and not yield to the flesh.

Dress is often a controversial subject even in Fundamental Independent Baptist Churches. “God does not look at our outward appearance; He looks at the heart!” Many contemporary Christians use this reasoning when questioned about their casual and shabby dress. If taken in context, one can clearly see that that verse means that God not only sees the outward appearance but the heart as well. One’s dress reflects what is in the heart.  A Christian that dresses shabbily or deliberately dresses down is trying to gain the attention of the crowd, not worship God. As Christians, we should be telling the world that we want to please God through the way we dress.

Platform arrangement is another problem in contemporary churches. The traditional pulpit, piano, and organ have been replaced with a trap set and electric guitars. Notice that they completely remove the pulpit. The pulpit is meant to hide the pastor and emphasize the sermon. By removing the pulpit from the platform contemporary churches are focusing on the man, not the message and certainly not on God.

Lastly, stage lighting has become a serious problem in contemporary churches.  Instead of well-lit auditoriums, these churches tend to turn the lights off, using spotlights, fog machines, laser lights, and hazers to bring attention, not to God, but to the people on the stage. As Christians, our focus should be on God; not the people on the platform.

Contemporary “Christian” worship is not at all glorifying to God. As Christians, we need to build up our defenses against the world and contend for our faith in the area of worship.

The Contemporary Worship Papers, Part 1

This year, I have had the privilege of offering a short lecture series called Earnestly Contending at Fairhaven Baptist College, my alma mater.  During a recent two-day course, we took some time to teach on the issue of contemporary worship.  The students were assigned to write a short paper explaining what is wrong with contemporary worship, and why we must contend for the issue.  As an incentive, I promised to post online any articles that I thought were well-written and compelling. 

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting the papers that I found worthwhile.  I intend to give a day each to what I thought was the top 3 papers.  Prior to that, I will divide the rest of the top ten between two days.

In this installment, I offer you three papers that I believe were worthy of “honorable mention.”  I begin each article with a favorite quote from the paper.

Jennifer Damron

First, we serve a holy God. When we come before our Lord to give Him praise, we should be doing it in humility and respect.

The use of Contemporary Christian music is becoming more and more prevalent in Fundamental Independent Baptist churches. It is seen as simply a modern way of worshiping the Lord instead of sin that is causing many Christians to backslide and churches to be filled with shallow Christianity.

One may ask, what is wrong with Contemporary Christian music? Those who are promoting this type of praise and worship style talk with an air of sincerity that they are truly trying to honor the Lord and worship Him. There are a couple issues though with how they are trying to do this. First, we serve a holy God. When we come before our Lord to give Him praise, we should be doing it in humility and respect. When observing modern contemporary worship bands, from their appearance one does not usually get the sense that they are humble or respecting the Holy Creator in the way they worship. Secondly, the performance is to draw attention to themselves, hence the lights. Their appearance also says they do not respect the King of Kings. Even with our culture changing rapidly, in the 21st century if one were to go before a high ranking official, they would want to look their utmost best. The atmosphere of contemporary music services is “come as you are.” The church service should look and feel like a ceremony honoring a king. We need to be humbled and feel honored that the God of all would allow us to worship Him.

Some may ask if this is something worth standing up for, and the answer is yes! In the 1700s there were many churches that were having problems of weak churches and unsaved members and even pastors being unsaved because of standards lowered. The same will continue if Christians give in to compromising to standards such as our music and how we worship our Lord and Savior.

John Mallinak

Biblical Christianity has always been distinct in nature from the rest of the world.

Contemporary worship is sweeping America. It is not isolated to just one group.  No, it is into every type of Christian church, including the Fundamentalists. The pulpit is replaced by the trap set, suits and ties replaced with jeans and a button-down shirt. All forms of propriety and structure are done away with. All because the church wants to fit in.

Biblical Christianity has always been distinct in nature from the rest of the world. This is necessarily true because of the nature of Biblical Christianity. Down through the ages, any time a nation or a group of people have separated themselves wholly unto God they have been different from the people around them. The Israelites realized this, and this is seen when they asked for a king. Before they had a king in Israel the people were ruled completely through the edicts of God. He gave them the law and they worshipped him. When they asked for a king, they said that they wanted to be like the world around them. This is what the churches of today are doing. This is wrong because it is becoming like the world which is exactly what we are not supposed to do. We are to stand strong and be separate from the world so that we can be the light of the world.

There is, I believe a sub-reason for this as well. This would be that they want to wear what they feel comfortable in, they want to listen to what they like to listen to, and they do not wish to be challenged on any beliefs. They justify this by saying that they are reaching the lost by going to where the lost are. This is wrong because we are to lead the lost from where they are to salvation. Once someone is saved there should be a true change of heart. This change of heart should result in a change in all parts of their lives including how they act.

Contemporary worship has been shown to be just a way that churches are giving in to the world around them.  There is one thing that should never change and that is the reverence that we give to God. We do this by worshipping the right way and not the way of the world.

Jesse Thomas

The United States military requires standards for personal appearance while in public. A member of the armed forces represents the United States of America and its professional military. Their dress indicates a look of readiness and an attitude of professionalism. Christians represent an Almighty God who reigns in heaven and earth. They should dress as sharp as possible, especially when worshipping in the house of God.

Many formerly distinctive independent Baptist churches have fallen to contemporary worship. It starts when the pastor and officers lower their tolerance for sin.  Church leaders want to be accepted in society by following in the footsteps of other popular contemporary worshipers. Pastors who give in to contemporary worship have a weak backbone and are afraid to stand up for truth. The Lord needs pastors who will tend to their flock and warn against any predators.

Contemporary worship begins with the music in the church. The congregation wants music that will make them feel good rather than bring honor and praise to God.  The style in music determines the view of God. If it is upbeat and lax, there is no indication of respect for God’s holiness. Many people want to hear a rhythm that will make them forget about the deeper realities in life. True joy will come when the Christian fully surrenders their music to the Lord.

The dress codes in contemporary churches are sloppy and disgraceful to the Lord. The United States military requires standards for personal appearance while in public. A member of the armed forces represents the United States of America and its professional military. Their dress indicates a look of readiness and an attitude of professionalism.  Christians represent an Almighty God who reigns in heaven and earth. They should dress as sharp as possible, especially when worshipping in the house of God.

Contemporary worshippers have removed the pulpit from the stage, and have replaced it with electric guitars and a trap set. The church service should be centered on the most important thing which is the preaching of the Word of God. Preaching usually occurs behind a pulpit, not a trap set. Contemporary worship leaders direct the attention of the service upon themselves, and the audience is there to cheer them on. Rather, the service is to be centered on the Word of God, and communion is to be amongst Christ and the congregation.

Contemporary Christians have the mindset of “come as you are.” They believe that mercy is a free pass to do what they desire. God is not pleased with the contemporary worship movement spreading through independent Baptist churches. One day, at the judgment seat of Christ, those who turned to contemporary worship will realize how holy and righteous God really is, and how disappointing their worship must have been.

A Worship Style Primer, Part 3

This is the third and final installment in a brief series outlining a few basic guidelines for worship style. In this series, I am countering the idea that worship style is mere preference, as promoted by Josh Teis and Robert Bakss.  If you have not yet read the first two articles on this subject, you really ought to before reading this article.  The two previous articles are available here and here.  In this article, I will lay out some practical considerations.  Please note, this article does not give a detailed list of Scriptural standards for worship.  The goal here is to give general principles.  In the future, I hope to address more specific answers to the contemporary style of worship now embraced by a growing number of Independent Baptists who hope to move others away from reverence in worship.

A “cowboy church” has a bull-riding arena in the middle of the “sanctuary.”  Another church hosts a “fight club” to reach people for Jesus.

Based on what Josh Teis argues, I wonder Continue reading “A Worship Style Primer, Part 3”

A Worship Style Primer, Part 2

This is the second offering on worship style, in answer to the claim made by Contemporary Independent Baptists like Josh Teis (see this link also) and Robert Bakss that worship style is merely a matter of preference and personal taste.  If you have not yet read the first in the series, please kindly follow this link before reading this post.

In the first post in this short series, I sought to distinguish between the subjective and the objective in order to establish a foundation of objective beauty.  As style is an element of beauty, it is necessary that we understand that beauty is not divorced from truth or goodness, and that none of the three are purely subjective.  Christians have historically believed in objective truth, objective goodness, and objective beauty.  The ultimate objective standard of truth, goodness, and beauty is God Himself, Who is truth, is holy, and is altogether lovely.  Because we are commanded to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, our worship style must reveal that beauty, must show what the beauty of holiness looks like.

In this post, I want to Continue reading “A Worship Style Primer, Part 2”