Saturday, June 12, 2010

WDTHT?

“I have a friend in California who started a Saturday evening praise service. I asked him why.
His reply: ‘To attract the unchurched. They can relate more to the simple praise songs. Hymns from the hymnals are too difficult to sing, and these are simpler.’
I have heard this reasoning a dozen times from a dozen pastors or church leaders who prefer praise songs to the church’s historic hymns. Ironically, in the vast majority of songs that are sung and the praise services, the ‘unchurched’ are hearing nothing of value about Jesus. We think we are making it easier for them to become Christians when, in fact, we are making it almost impossible. To know Christ one must learn what he has done. This doesn’t happen in most praise songs.”
- Pastor Klemet Preus in his book The Fire and the Staff: Lutheran Theology in Practice. 150.

I've read this book several times and am always intrigued with Pastor Preus' insight. Common sense would seem to dictate that if Christ, Christ's work and the result of Christ's work is not clearly taught in the hymns/songs we sing, then what is being taught and why are people singing?

I teach high school English. Every year young, inquisitive minds ask, "Why do we have to read A) Shakespeare
B)Poetry
C) Beowulf
D) "The Open Boat"
E) ________________ (fill in the blank)

Every year they are correct. There must be a point to the reading. There must be some purpose to studying the universal conflicts of envy, jealous, greed, enjambment, asyndeton, selflessness, selfishness, Naturalism, et al.

The same needs to occur with our hymns and songs. Do we sing hymns to experience temporal, emotional contentment? Do we sing hymns to hear the eternal truth of Christ's atoning sacrifice? That will be the focus for this summer's recurring theme: What Does the Hymn Teach? (WDTHT)
I'll examine hymns and praise songs for the message of Christ crucified. I Corinthians 1:23
Let me know what you think or proffer a suggestion.

7 comments:

Pastor Bakker said...

I've also heard, 'what you win them with is what you win them to.'

While many will readily acknowledge the questionable theological substance of many modern praise songs, they will still defend them and suggest that they are a gateway into the church, where they will then be instructed toward more theologically sound materials. What usually ends up happening is that a congregation stays in the 'gateway' mode. People, especially disaffected Christians (and especially disaffected Lutherans) from other congregations, will latch on to a lowest-common-denominator kind of teaching because it's simple, especially if they were turned off by some of the teachings at their former church.

The best way to get into Shakespeare is to read Shakespeare. Is it difficult to read? Frustrating at times? Can the vocabulary be a hurdle? Yes, yes, and yes. Does that mean he isn't worth reading? Does that mean he isn't worth the effort? Of course not.

We pastors ought to remember how difficult it was, at times, to learn the many things we've learned about Christ and his Church, and not deprive those the Lord brings us of the same growth (even if it means growing pains).

JBrandt said...

I can't tell you how many times I've used your opening sentence. It applies to Accelerated Reader, education, worship and even raising children. I hope your year went well. Enjoy HT this summer.

Timothy Finkelstein said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Timothy Finkelstein said...

The Finkels are all from a little town in the thumb of Michigan named Prot Hope where my parents have now moved to enjoy their retirement. Although I did not grow up here, I accumulated a vast amount of my childhood memories here.

Among those memories there were two particular things I enjoyed greatly:
1. Dining at the local restaurant
2. Attending Church at the Old Lutheran Church in town.

In retrospect, I realize I enjoyed these two things for the same reason. I enjoyed the local diner because everything was made from scratch and had a great home-cooked feel to it. I enjoyed attending church there because we sang out of the old Lutheran Hymnal. There was no song of the month or week. I found comfort in the songs we sang and they served as a means of reverence for me. I still get this feeling today when I attend there.

The local diner made a split pea soup that was amazing. I always found myself wondering why the Local McDonalds, Chili's or Applebees couldn't produce something that tasted this good. It wasn't until I grew older and realized how mass production of food has depersonalized what was once tradition that focused around rituals performed as a family.

The thing is, it's not that fast food doesn't fill you up, it's that there is much more nutritious food available.

Nice Blog post.

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سما احمد said...

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سما احمد said...

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