Watch Aaron in the film Holy Wars

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Casual Christianity-should we really boast about this?

Tonight at the NGA conference, there was a room called "The Cave" where they had the Stations of the Cross. I remember this way back when I was 6 and 7 years old in Catholic school and they taught us about the stations of the cross (After the second grade, my parents left the catholic church and raised me in an independent charismatic church). I find it very refreshing that in an evangelical protestant conference for evangelists, there is an appreciation for the contributions of other branches of Christianity. I think this is part of a larger trend within evangelicalism of rediscovering the older historic traditions of the Christian faith. Growing up in the charismatic movement which prided itself in casualness, I've found that lately I've had a deep hunger to experience Christ in quiet reflection through art and beauty. I have to admit, I feel much closer to God in a Catholic cathedral staring up at the beautiful artwork portraying the life of Christ than I do in a crowded church clapping hands and shouting praises. Maybe that's just me. I realize that both are necessary. I am glad there are different expressions of worship within the Body of Christ. In traveling around the world, I have come to realize that Christianity has a built in adaptability factor in adjusting to different times and places.

Sometimes I feel , however, that in the current " Christian youth movement" that emphasizes punk rock, hip hop, and battle imagery, the art of reverence for God is often lost. I can even remember mosh pits during the praise and worship service in the youth group I was raised in. Often the mentality is that since kids like to rock and roll, why can't we get them to rock and roll for Jesus? That'll bring them in! Church has to be "cool". Don't get me wrong. I am not opposed to Christian rock music, punk music, metal music....or any other kind of music that is dubbed "hip" by today's young people. I'm just wondering if we are losing something in our search to be "cool" or "non religious" (a charismatic buzzword). I've been wondering lately if the charismatic pride for casualness that I grew up with is really something worth boasting about.

Maybe I'm just an old man trapped in a 28 year-old's body, but I would love to hear choral arrangements of classic hymns such as "Softly and Tenderly" "It is Well" and "There is a Fountain" sung in church or...God forbid... an evangelistic event. Can anyone else relate to this or am I just weird?

5 comments:

Pete said...

Aaron,
I respect and understand your stance on this. Today's kids don't even know what a revival is!
I feel that the Catholics have some of the most extravagant forms of praise to God, but I don't just want to enjoy Catholic"tradition". Worship is more important than tradition. I think that the main problem that today's young people have with the older styles of worship is that often times they are simply done out of tradition. For instance, most Catholic children memorized the stations because they were Catholic and that's what Catholics do traditionally, not because they had a passion for Christ and longed to identify and appreciate his suffering for them.
It's the same when Amazing Grace is sung at our church. I have to stop myself from just singing a great song of tradition in the Christian Church and think about the words and sing them to my savior.
Youth often have a hard time distinguishing between tradition and true worship so they have created there own worship. I agree that something is lost in this, but if souls are gained than so be it. Our job is not to assimilate all kinds of worship and relationships to God, but to bring people to God and encourage them in THEIR walk with Him. I find myself having to bite my tongue quite often, because there are several movements that I don't really like, but when looking at the big picture I realize that the salvation of those within the movements is sure. As much as I would like to change some of the ideas and such, the saved are a secondary focus to the lost.
I'm saying this more for myself than anything. I have so many things that I would just love to sit and nitpick out of our church body, but then it would be my church and not God's. I've had to accept that if it is bringing people closer to God than that overrules my personal preference.
Pete

Aaron D. Taylor said...

Pete,

I totally agree with you that I am happy if the rock driven music is leading young people to Christ, in fact, I said in my post that I am not against the harder styles of music. The problem is that wee tend to look down at the older traditional styles without seeing the value in them, as if it were impossible to reach people through sacred music. I have a hunch that even amongst young people, there is a hunger for something deeper than punk rock and hip hop.

My second point is that we Pentecostals and Charismatics tend to pride ourselves with our casual style of worship while shunning other styles that lend themselves to awe and reflection. My point is that we need both.

toby said...

aaron, you're not weird for wanting to hear classic hymns or wanting to experience God by meditating on the life of Christ through art, I think that's neat. sometimes i also wish we could have more times of (quiet) reflection in worship. also, many of the popular older hymns mean more to mean than a lot of the newer songs which tend to emphasize musical crescendos but often lack in lyrical depth.

Pete said...

Aaron,
No disagreements here. Just was trying to rationalize it, so I/we understand why the older music isn't being appreciated as much. I wholeheartedly agree with Toby in that much of the modern praise and worship is grossly formulaic and the lyrics seem to just be slapped together at a moment's notice so that a song, and eventually an album, can be produced. When penning a P&W song, I would hope that the lyricist would take the depth and accuracy of each line as seriously as the subject matter deserves. Sadly, I often feel that this is not the case. However, I just heard a song that Kyle T., a fellow church member, wrote and I am hopeful for a change in the tide.
Pete

Paul said...

Let's also not forget that just because the words to hymns are incredibly poetic and "old fashioned" does not necessarily mean that they are better. Yes, they have stood the test of time, and their melodies are timeless... but that was the style of the day. In fact, hymns were somewhat considered the "pop" music of their time. Don't get me wrong... I absolutely love hymns, and I agree that many of the songs written today are extremely simple and reduntant (though, for the record, so are most hymns). Corporate worship, though, is not about how wonderful we feel and who can feel the most "anointing"... it is about bringing a sacrifice of praise to our Lord. For some people, current praise and worship styles really do the trick in helping them get to that place. For others, it is the older style - hymns or good ole' fashioned pentecostol songs. You say that teens are longing for something deeper than punk rock and hip hop... and I agree, to a point. Some of the most meaningful times of worship I've ever experienced happened during these "modern" songs that we have been discussing. Sometimes, I just don't want or need several stanzas of eloquent wording to guide me into His presence - sometimes, I just need to be able to speak and sing my own praises. It just so happens that modern songs lend themselves to this kind of worship more often. At other times, I need quiet, reverent reflection and awe, which are often brought on by hymns and such. Either way, I agree with you, Aaron - we need both in the church.