Reply to a Pastor about My Warning of Lancaster's Music
The following is slightly edited edition of a couple of e-mails I sent to a pastor who wrote to express his deep concern at how I handled the matter of warning about Lancaster Baptist Church’s music. He believes I am sowing discord. This pastor called Brother Paul Chappell and they talked for an hour about the matter.
Thank you for the e-mail and for your concern in this matter.
I'm glad that you called Pastor Chappell. Others have also probably contacted him. It sounds like you and he had a nice anti-Cloud fest, but I am not the issue here.
I do not regret that I sent out that mailing, though I did regret it at one point and at one level. (If you think I enjoy the trouble that this type of thing engenders, you are profoundly wrong. Humanly speaking, I get nothing in return but personal attacks and closed doors.) But perhaps it will stir things up enough for a real direction change. It has certainly brought the issue under a lot of attention. I am convinced that a private conversation from me or from any other one person would have done very little. Real public pressure has to be brought to bear in these cases.
I would have guessed that Bro. Chappell would renounce his use of "Shout to the Lord," but that is only the tip of the iceberg.
(The fact that he didn't know anything about that song or about Hillsong reminds me of how important it is for pastors to access ministries that would keep them better informed of such things. God has raised men like me up to help pastors. Just taking 15 minutes a week to read the Friday Church News Notes would keep a pastor pretty well informed about contemporary issues, not to speak of the monthly O Timothy magazine which we sent to West Coast for years for free. I don’t know what happened to them.)
Lancaster has been adapting charismatic CCM for a long time. I was first informed of it a few years ago when a pastor who attends the conferences pointed me to a link to a church service in which a charismatic CCW number was being used.
I know that the church has used the following CCM songs:
Hallelujah to the Lamb by Don Moen
Majesty, Worship His Majesty by Jack Hayford
Great Is the Lord by Michael W. Smith
How Majestic Is Your Name by Michael W. Smith
And there are others.
Pulling "Shout to the Lord" and doing a review is a great step in the right direction, but it will probably solve nothing of substance because the music people there, though very talented, obviously don't understand what they are doing in this particular matter. They don’t know the essence of rock. They don’t know the great danger of CCM. That is why I suggested that they bring in someone who does. Perhaps Bro. Chappell will follow my advice on that even though he doesn’t like how I went about this. A major problem is that because of the use of soft rock Lancaster has become addicted to the swing rhythm. At least two of the pianists really know how to rock.
Pastor Graham West, who has a background in writing and producing pop music, has given the clearest warning about this that I have heard. He understands the essence of CCM better than anyone I know and is able to explain it. He shows how that just a little swing rhythm is addictive and creates an appetite for more. I don't know any church that has pulled back from that slope once they have started down it. I hope Lancaster is the exception, but it won't happen unless they get someone in to educate them and exhort them who knows more about this issue than their own music people. (I haven't met West personally and have no association with him other than that I have communicated with him a little and appreciate his material on music. I have no idea what he would think about my report on Lancaster. For all I know, he might disagree with how I went about the matter. I only bring his name into this thing because he knows his stuff and could really help Lancaster at this time.)
Another issue is Lancaster's influence overseas. I live overseas and travel frequently. I have spent a lot of time in the Philippines and Australia, for example. Lancaster has had a significant influence on music in churches in these places. Since Lancaster has a reputation that it is strong, its music is accepted without question. Before I published my warning last week, I submitted it to several men, one of whom is a pastor in Australia and another is a pastor in Singapore. All of them urged me to publish it, and especially those overseas, because they reminded me how widespread Lancaster's influence is and that this influence is leading many down a wrong path in music.
The pastor in Australia told me that at the last National Fellowship the specials were mostly from Hillsong. He described one interesting scene in which a missionary's wife sang a toned down Hillsong number:
“I was looking across the auditorium and just happened to see the young pastor of the church at ------- coming out of the toilets with a big smile, and he was miming the words of the Hillsong junk she was singing. So I said to myself, ‘You are not only familiar with this song, but you have memorised it, and that means it is the music you listen to with enjoyment.' That is what we are coming to here in Australia."
This type of thing is being played out across the IB movement. CCM is sweeping in, even in churches that profess to be opposed to it. It is being done right under the noses of pastors who profess to be opposed to it. Music people who are adapting CCM do so because they are listening to CCM and digging around in that garbage bin. It appears that this is what has been happening at Lancaster for a long time, just as I warned in my report.
Another pastor wrote to me after reviewing my warning as follows:
"The great danger is that West Coast Baptist churns out lots of music majors that make their way into other churches that might otherwise have a strong stand on music. By implication, the toned down CCM gradually infiltrates churches that come under the influence and direction of these music majors. Already I have observed with great concern how the IFB churches in the Philippines download lots of the music from LBC and then pastors turn around and TELL their music directors 'I want you to give us music like this!' I personally went through some of this stuff with a church pianist and a music director during one of my preaching trips and walked them through how you could layer the rock beat right on the many of these mp3 recordings. The pianist showed me he understood when he played some hymns for me at the piano and switched the rhythm in and out of the rock style with ease after I explained it to him. I told him to then STICK with the conservative style of playing and leave out the back beat on the left hand when playing the chords. This situation is highly dangerous because IFB churches in the Philippines have held up Lancaster Baptist Church as a MODEL church to follow. There used to be broadcasts of their services and I had once watched their service years back and they were singing the 'Chorus of the Month' when my wife walked into the room, heard it and gave me this funny look and told me that's what she used to sing before she left her Charismatic church."
Because of my background (as a musician and as a hippie) and very, very extensive research over the past nearly 40 years, I know what I am talking about when it comes to music and CCM and CCW. I have studied and prayed intensely about this issue and our new DVD series "Music for Good and Evil" is the latest fruit of my research and spiritual passion and calling from God to help IB churches in such a time as this. It goes into the music side more than any presentation that has been published to my knowledge and it also deals with Southern Gospel, which most refuse to touch.
I think Pastor Chappell should thank me for bringing up the matter and thank me for speaking out on tough issues in spite of the trouble it brings, regardless of whether he agrees with how I did it and regardless of any trouble it has caused him. As one man said, "A good man who criticizes me gives me a gold coin." The Bible says, “Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:5-6).
Well, Pastor. I trust the Lord will give you much spiritual wisdom and courage in these days, because a great number of pastors who lack these things are leading churches down the primrose path of compromise.
I am sorry that you don't read my writings, particularly Friday News and O Timothy. It is a ministry raised up by the Lord to help keep preachers properly informed. It appears to me that you told me that you don’t read my writings just to take a cheap shot at me and to show me what you think of me, but you aren’t hurting me by neglecting these tools. I do research that pastors simply don't have time to do. And I do it in the midst of a church planting ministry in Nepal, which keeps my feet very much on the ground.
As for your charge that I called names and implied evil intentions and judged Pastor Chappell’s motives, that is patently wrong. I have never called him names or subscribed to him evil intentions. I have never judged his motives. I have written in a gracious and respectful manner. I acknowledge that there are many good things at Lancaster. You are making all of that up from whole cloth.
I am also not sowing discord. Far from it. If discord comes, it is because of truth and righteousness, and I do not fear discord on that basis. I also don't fear division. Had there not been continual division between right and wrong, truth and error, carnality and spirituality throughout the church age there would be no truth alive today.
I am warning about a very important matter and those in question would do well to take heed to my godly, compassionate, and informed warning.
I am puzzled why you have inserted yourself into this matter so intimately, but that is your business.
I have done what I believe the Lord wanted me to do, and my conscience is clear.
I believe the fruit will be good and that Pastor Chappell will thank me one day.
As for not endorsing me, I am sorry that you don't and I don't believe there is any biblical reason why you shouldn't, but then again I have never sought your endorsement.
A watch dog will not always bark perfectly at the perfect time, but I, for one, thank the Lord for watchdogs. They have helped me greatly, though I have never agreed with one perfectly. And I am thankful that there are still many Ind. Baptists who honor and encourage such men and heed their warnings and don't take cheap shots at them.
In Christ, Brother Cloud
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