“Yeah…But How Do They Worship?”

Last week, I explored an interesting article on the lack of enthusiasm for reformed theology in the black community. The comment thread to that post mirrored the conversations I’ve had with friends and family regarding my interest in reformed theology.

I usually get a concession that reformed theology isn’t a cult or a radical fringe of Christianity, but the next questions rolls off the lips of the inquiring party every time: “Yeah, they’re biblically sound, but how do they worship?”. I suppose that most folks (especially us black folks) imagine that “praise and worship” at a reformed church consists of stoic hymns sung in the King’s English to the tune of an old piano.

The reality is that reformers adhere to reverent worship – not mundane worship. The words of most songs in gospel and contemporary Christian music have reverent lyrics – it’s just that the delivery of those lyrics sometimes creep over into “man worship”. You know, the vocal gymnastics, extended LP version of the chorus (that’s a reference to wax records for all of you 17 year old reformers out there 🙂 ) and “drop it like it’s hot” body gyrations.

Our brother Pastor Anthony Carter over at the blog Non Nobis Domine penned an excellent article dispelling the notion that reformers can’t freely praise God during church services:

“Experiencing The Presence of God”

…We must remember that Christianity is a “forward remembering” faith. In other words, while we are always looking forward to what God has promised us in the grand consummation, we are always remembering what He did for us at the cross. While we are always proclaiming the glories of the returning King, we are also remembering the glories of the resurrected King. Therefore, let us not jettison the past in favor of the present, and let us not neglect the present in favor of the past. Rather let us embrace them together, even in our worship. How enhanced our worship would be if we made sure that we included such songs as Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee sung to the magnificent arrangement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, as well as Fred Hammond’s Bread of Life, with its irrepressible urban beats. How glorious and worthy of our God and reflective of heavenly realities would our worship be if we were more diligent in making sure we have something old, something new, yet always careful to maintain all things true.

Click the title to read the article in it’s entirety. And while you’re at it – break out that old Commissioned cassette and get to worshipping God!

6 Responses to ““Yeah…But How Do They Worship?””

  1. 1 Douglas K. Adu-Boahen July 22, 2008 at 7:24 am

    I know what an LP is! 😆

    Seriously though, the church I was attending is very traditional in its worship style. As much as it was a culture shock, I grew up and got over it. Like I said on the other post, some use worship styles as their canon and measure of faith, when the Word of God is our standard of faith. At 17, almost 18, I’ve found that I’d rather be in a place where the Word is preached with clarity and conviction than where the praise team has won a Stellar Awards, a couple Doves and are Grammy-nominated but have no desire for truth…

  2. 2 Brother K July 22, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Well ST, allow me to admit that the worship service at our old club was what hooked me. Coming from an extremely staid and stiff worship background, the exuberance displayed was a welcome breath of fresh air. As I even told the pastor at the time, the praise team did a marvelous job of “setting the table”(!) for his messages. I’ve since learned the difference between “the reverent and the mundane” as you stated, and now I look forward to the former rather than a Vegas version of the latter.

  3. 3 speaking truth July 23, 2008 at 12:12 am

    Doug & Brother K – I agree with you both: I’d rather be in a small bible study group where the Word is taught with no fluff than in a “progressive assembly” where the worship is breathtaking but the Word is paper thin.

    The joy is that once we debunk the myth of “one verses the other” in reformed theology, then everyone will (1) learn what to look for, and (2) prayerfully find it when searching based on realistic objectives.

    You’re right Brother K, the choir at our old plantation sure could jam. However, once you dug through their homosexuality and lesbianism, drug abuse, adulturous affairs with one another, and all around ungodly lifestyles – you’d be better off plugging your ears and closing your eyes when they “jammed”.

  4. 4 Glenda Williams December 3, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    I just ran across this page while looking for something else. I almost want to be a little offended by one of the responses, but I think maybe I might have taken it wrong. My question is this: Why does the word have to be paper thin if the music is exuberant? I believe God intended us to have both. Any and all music should be reverent, worshipful, full of praise, clapping, shouting, whatever God requires for your set time of Worship. I think the worship team can only be as good as they are taught. I also think that Pastors that have a young congregation know that music has a drawing ability. The hope is that when they are drawn, that they will stay because what they have heard has increased their faith. For African-Americans music is a key element in our lives, whether we are saved or not. It’s cultural. It’s something that was built into us. Not to say others don’t have the same affection, but it is part of our makeup. I just pray that one day the Body can worship together, and let God be the author…Thanks, Glenda

  5. 5 speaking truth December 3, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Glenda – thanks for stumbling upon this blog and leaving a comment. Please don’t be offended by the overall theme of this post – there’s plenty more material throughout this blog that will offend any delicate sensibilities 🙂 (not intentionally, but because I defend the Word of God and take no prisoners)

    My point in writing this article was to state that it’s all about reverent worship – whether it’s hand-clapping, foot-stomping or anything else. When Pastors allow the showmanship to creep in, then the Word is relegated to a “second act”. And while music may draw a crowd, only the true Word of God (preached and taught soberly and without compromise) can nurish the soul. My hope is that the music isn’t used as a prop to “catch fish”.

    That said, I agree with your closing sentence – I too pray that the Body will join and worship Him on one accord.

  6. 6 Glenda December 4, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Not at all offended by the overall theme. Just by the tone of one of the replies. I took from it that some people that most black churches are all about the music. I also took from it that there is no relevant Word being preached. I don’t doubt that there are place like this; I’ve visited quite a few. But I think that people are hungering for something more and more often than not that is the core desire for most ministries. Even good intentions can turn for the worst sometimes, and in our world and in our culture, we may lose sight of what is most important. I do think that God has given us creative ways to gain others’ attention, and show them that God is multifaceted. For instance, my husband and the men’s ministry that he lead hosted a Madden tournament. What young man do you know that would not want to get in on a tournament with 10 boxes and 52′ TV’s?? It was used as an evangelisting tool and 5 young men made a decision for Christ that day. I think we are on the same page regarding preaching the Word of God, the kind that really cuts like a two-edged sword, but we cannot neglect that we are now preaching to a bible-illiterate generation. Not only that, they do not WANT to hear the word. But faith comes by hearing, right? So if they hear through music and God arrests their heart in that moment, then I think it has done it’s purpose, provided that the music points to God and God only. We do have to be wary of the performance and show aspect of it, but if you are a singer, you know that it is way too easy to get caught up in the talent, and for a few moments, forget the ministry. This is a great forum though. I am considering blogging soon. Until then you can check me out at http://www.myspace.com/g26world or http://www.youtube.com/worshipper26

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