Christianity Today Gleanings: Modern Hymn Writers Revive Lost Art with Surprising Success

The Gettys have written some great music. I’m glad to see they are still at it, and have a real sense for what it takes to get a whole congregation to truly worship through music together.

Similar to hymns such as “Amazing Grace” or “Be Thou My Vision,” the song (“In Christ Alone”) makes people want to sing along.

That’s a lost art, said Mark Hosny, artistic director of the National Praise and Worship Institute at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville.

Newer Christian music often makes the band or lead singer sound good but doesn’t engage the congregation. That’s missing the point, Hosny said.

“A lot of today’s melodies are not singable. That’s why they don’t stick,” he said.

Hosny recently attended a Getty concert at the famed Ryman Auditorium, which featured their hymns as well as gospel songs and traditional Irish music. Everyone was singing along, he said.

That’s what hymns are supposed to do, said Dave Clark, director of creative development, publishing and A&R for Nashville-based Lillenas Publishing. They make space for people to join in.

“There is a familiarity in hymns — that even if you are hearing it for the first time, you feel like you know it,” he said.

Christianity Today Gleanings: Modern Hymn Writers Revive Lost Art with Surprising Success.

I Love You—I Just Don’t Trust You | Christianity Today

This is a neat graphic from Christianity Today. The premise is that the more theologically conservative a person is, the less like she is to trust others. This is fascinating, and not all that surprising. As with the experts that weighed in on the information, I’m not convinced this is necessarily a bad thing. It might actually be a good, healthy, and realistic view of humanity leading as one expert said, “to increased levels of civic volunteerism or increased levels of civic morality.”

Follow the link…

I Love You—I Just Don’t Trust You | Christianity Today.

Drawing People In from Enough Light

Laura, the blogger from Enough Light has put together a nice and practical series on drawing people into the life of the church.

This is a very important topic, and one we’ve talked about quite a lot at our church. In fact, I’ve done my best to move our church in a direction of being more welcoming to new people.

Take the time to read her work. It’s good stuff.

Where Has Grace Gone?

More times than I care to recall, I’ve had to apologize to someone for something I’ve done or said. On occasion, I’ve been wronged too. Actually, by my count, I’ve been wronged quite a lot. Funny isn’t it how we remember so clearly those hurts done to us while being mostly able to forget the hurts we’ve done to others?

The community of the Church is supposed to be different from what we normally find in the life around us. We are supposed to be a people who acknowledge and repent of our sins against God and one another. We are supposed to be a people who both seek and grant forgiveness in order to create reconciliation.

Where has grace gone?

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Bill Blankschaen on Worship Music

Yesterday, a blog post from Bill in the Blank was circulating Facebook, and I thought I would re-post some of it. Bill is bemoaning the state of what passes for worship, specifically music, in some (most?) Evangelical churches. You can read the entire post here, but here are his main points:

As best I can sort through my own muddled and messy thoughts, I think there are three things that really bother me about the worship music in many Evangelical Christian churches today: Continue reading

Discerning Fires And Storms

It’s been a tough week, and we are once again reminded just how small we are. Colorado Springs has burned. My wife and I have friends and family in that city, and some evacuated, and some lost their homes. I’m from West Virginia, and most of my family lives there, and has been without electricity in the middle of this crazy heat wave. A friend who drove through West Virginia the day after the storm said it was like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie. People lined up at gas stations that had no gas, and if you were really lucky, your Wal-Mart still had power. Things are not good, and it doesn’t look like it is going to get any better for at least a week. Continue reading

The Worthlessness Of Offense

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15–17, ESV)

I had the privilege this past weekend of being part of a men’s retreat with some men I’ve known all my life. They were talking about their church, and how best they can share the love of Christ with people. We had a really nice discussion about how to avoid offending people unnecessarily, and how to show grace to those coming into the church for the first time. The conversation got me to thinking about being offended by others in the church and how we deal with it.

Being offended is a favorite past time of many Christians. We like it when we can take the morally superior position over someone else. When we take offense, it gives us a sense of entitlement, and a sense that others are somehow in our debt. We like that feeling. We like to use verses like these to justify our offended feelings, and to bear grudges against those who have “offended” us. We are an easily offended bunch, with just about any reason is sufficient to send us off in a huff declaring we’ll never go back to that church. Continue reading

The Bubble Boy Wasn’t Healthy

If you lived in a bubble, you could filter out all the stuff around you. You could control what you exposed yourself to, and you could stay safe and secure. If you fell down, you would just bounce back up. If someone tried to touch you, they couldn’t get through your bubble. It would feel warm and cozy, and everything would be alright. Right? Wrong.

The problem with living in a sanitized bubble is that the body needs a certain amount of exposure to germs and toxins to build up a resistance to them. Limited exposure to things that can harm us makes us healthier while avoidance of harmful things may actually make us unhealthy. This is the basic principle behind modern vaccines.

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A Funny Thing Happened At Church Today

Funny things happen in churches. People do funny things, and sometimes funny things just happen. I’ve been chuckling since yesterday about something that happened in one of our services. Like a lot of churches, we use a projection system during our worship services, and sometimes, something goes wrong. Yesterday, during our early service none of the music lyrics were appearing on the screen at the front of the sanctuary. The good news is that we have a smaller projector and screen in the back that allows anyone on the platform to know what is showing on the large screen behind them. Well, wouldn’t you know it, yesterday, the primary projector wasn’t working properly, but the small one at the back was. There we were, all turned around backward looking at the back of the sanctuary. Those sitting in the back, who like it there because they don’t get a lot of attention, are now suddenly the center of attention. The looks on their faces were priceless as we all stood, faced the opposite direction, and looked at a little screen above the rear balcony. It was backward day at our church.
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