When we evolved to "brush arbors" and were able to worship in a structure of tied together twigs and the Marvin Sapp of the manual labor era would be leading us in a tune and some rhythm sensitive brother would begin to tap one twig against another as if playing a drum- there was some scary someone that corrected him quickly with..."Marvin can carry his own tune- it don't take all that..."
Sooner or later freedom reigned and we built churches and after a while those churches actually had electricity inside of them and a brother named Hammond designed an organ and I wasn't there but something tells me that the first time Thomas Dorsey saw, touched, felt that organ- there just may have been one or two in the congregation that lost their cool points, shook their head and either whispered or said out loud..."he know good and well it don't take all that..."
So some person wrote some piece about "Satan becoming the worship leader" If you need help falling asleep tonight, you can read it here:
The writer was attempting to make the point that modern gospel is inspiring a generation of confused Christians that can't decipher "Amazing Grace" from "Bump and Grind". It appears as if the writer's argument is that new age gospel music has so much bass, so much bump, so much thump that new age gospel can be played in and appreciated at the club as much as it's appreciated at the church...
I reckon I have a two word response to someone who has an issue with music that transitions well between Saturday night 11:00 and Sunday morning 11:00...
I'm not sure- I'm not trying to be glib or create shock or be edgy- but I'm really not sure how many of our churches that Jesus would visit on Sunday morning if he were still roaming this earth. Jesus wasn't much for religious formality. Jesus wasn't big on pomp and circumstance. Jesus wasn't the stoic, stuck up killjoy that we go out of our way to portray him to be so I'm not sure how much Jesus would visit our churches...but I can see Jesus walking into our nightclubs. I can see it and if you've read your Bible, then you can see it too-
Jesus said that he came for the lost sheep of Israel.
Jesus said that it's not those who are well who need a doctor but those who are sick.
The church actually was angry at Jesus because Jesus not only hung out with the sinners but Jesus ate with them...guess they were at the Waffle House after the club...
Jesus changed the life of the prostitute Mary Madgalene.
Jesus changed the life of a woman who had entertained too many husbands at the well.
Jesus said if he had a church of 100, then he would leave 99 in the middle of worship and go to where the missing one was.
Here's my point: I grew up listening to a pipe organ every Sunday. I know the hymnal better than I know the alphabet. I grew up a fan of the hymns of the church- and my love for tradition was almost the death of my ministry because I became too rigidly regimented. I have believed and believe still that they hymns are the foundation of the church and I believe that because I used to hear 5 of them every Sunday but if St. James' DOVE dancers (the best doggone praise dance troupe in SC) has to dance to "That's What I Told the Storm" in 2015 in order for them to develop an appreciation for "Guide Me O, Thou Great Jehovah" in 2025, that's a small price to pay.
Sure a few of the contemporary Gospel artists are a bit "extra"- there are rampant rumors of homosexuality, adultery and fornication. There are Gospel artists who have felonies and divorces and battle alcoholism and other addictions- that is the reality of today's Gospel music industry.
I would be quick to condemn them if I didn't travel the church. When I cross the length and breadth of just South Carolina- I encounter rampant rumors of homosexuality, adultery and fornication. In my home state, I encounter Christians with felonies and divorces and those who battle alcoholism and other addictions.
The Gospel industry is no longer made up of pristine choir robes and glossy figures who lord over us from their ivory towers of purity. The Gospel industry is made up now of flawed individuals...just like the folks who buy their music- just like the folks who sit in pews and just like the folks who occupy pulpits.
There will always be room for improvement in God's church- I know that because it is made up of sinful, flawed individuals. We will always be able to do better because we will always fall down and fall short. I choose to apply my energies to the least, the last and the lost among us. I choose to resist the urge to be prudish in my worship and conduct and to focus more on how it helps and less on how it looks.
I'll leave you with this hymn- quoted from memory of course thanks to my upbringing...
Rescue the perishing
Care for the dying
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave
Weep o'er the erring one
Lift up the fallen
Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save
Rescue the perishing
Care for the dying
Jesus is merciful
Jesus will save.
I love you and I'd love to be your Pastor. Meet us each Thursday at 12:30 and 7:00 PM for Bible Study at 888-628-8983. We worship each Sunday at our 9:45 Church School and 11:00 Morning Worship in the Heart of Abbeville, SC at 203 Henry M. Turner Street. We meet for evening prayer each Sunday evening at 8:00 on the above conference call number.
God's Best be With You Always,
Rev. Sterling J. Dowling