“A few weeks ago a family started coming to my church and told me the reason they left their former church was because of the music standards falling. I am not a proponent of one leaving their church but I do understand that standards are very important and many are falling by the wayside. I feel that I am very conservative in music, dress, preaching, preachers, etc so I figured that maybe this family would find a place to settle down. After a few weeks of them coming and saying how much they enjoyed everything we had a 3 day meeting with an evangelist we have used for years.
“All of a sudden this family flew the coop! They won't answer the phone or return a call so I said oh well, easy come easy go! Today I received a letter explaining that they would not be back because the evangelist sang ‘he touched me’ which he says was written by Bill Gaither. I don't know and don't really care; it's not a song that I will defend or detract. As far as Bill Gaither is concerned I've never knowingly listened to him or his group, and never will, I don't listen to long haired hippies sing. I have gone over the song in my head and cannot find anything blatantly wrong with it other than it's a little vague.
“My biggest issue is that he says in his letter that I need to come to you so that I can learn about music. Now while I am no academic I do study and pray and think about issues like this and I see that this family will almost certainly be going the ‘home church’ route due to their stringent following of what they have read and seen on your website.
“Please don't misunderstand me, I agree with most of what I've seen, but if it is driving families away from the local church something is wrong!
“I know that Bill Gaither is no good, as well as many other songwriters but does that mean that God cannot use them? If so why did God use Baalam? Did he not prophesy of Christ? Was his prophecy invalid because of his own failure; I think not. I believe this is the reason why we can use hymns by the Wesleys, Luther, Faber, and others, because they were simply the instruments an omnipotent God chose to use. This same man told me about Stuart Townend, who I would not probably have a lot to do with, but did he not write a hymn with more truth than even Amazing Grace?
“I am not here to defend him either! I know as a pastor that sometimes what we say has unintended consequences so we must be very careful in all that we say either to encourage or to discourage. I think that we go too far in our discouraging and some will feel as if they are the only ones who have it right.
“These dear people have two children who are no longer in church while living in the Bible belt because of one song that a man sang! I believe it is far more important to be in church than to divide over something as trivial as that, but that is the end result from what I can see of all the purifying of all things musical. Again I appreciate the information but we must be careful of the unintended consequences.”
REPLY FROM BROTHER CLOUD
Thank you for taking the time to write about that situation.
Since I don't know you, your church, or the family in question, there is not much I can do other than offer a couple of general comments:
1. If this family doesn't honor the local church properly, and if they go "the home church route," it is not because of me and my teaching. You would not charge me with such a thing if you would read my book “The House Church” or my report “I Am Not Your Pastor” or my free eBook “Keys to Fruitful Church Membership.” I have been a strong supporter of the local church since I was saved 40+ years ago. I am a pioneer Baptist church planter in South Asia, where my wife and I live. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth. I teach people that the church is so important that if they can’t find a good one within commuting distance, they should find a way to relocate. I have never given any encouragement to perpetual church hoppers.
2. I assume that this family found your church in the first place through my church directory. Since you filled out the questionnaire and listed on our directory (that's the only way a church can be listed), that family doubtless assumed you would be likeminded with us on the matter of music. We consider the music issue to be so important that there are five questions on our questionnaire about it, as follows:
* Do you use contemporary praise music in any aspect of your church life (youth meetings, worship services, etc.)?
* Are you opposed to the practice that is being popularized by churches such as Lancaster Baptist Church in Lancaster, California, in "adapting" contemporary praise music by toning down the rhythm?
* Are you opposed to using songs by worldly one-world church ecumenists such as Stuart Townend, Don Moen, Chris Tomlin, Hillsong, Darlene Zschech, Jack Hayford, Graham Kendrick, Casting Crowns, MercyMe, etc.?
* Are you totally committed to traditional sacred music?
* Do you reject contemporary Southern Gospel?
Being likeminded with us on the matter of music would mean that you are 100% opposed to contemporary Christian music, that you are well-informed as to its nature and danger, and that you make no excuses for and have no sympathy with those who are using it. I must say that I don’t discern that from your e-mail.
3. I can’t be blamed for any lack of wisdom on the part of people who read my writings, no more than you can be blamed for lack of wisdom on the part of your church members. I would not leave a church just because of a couple of questionable songs, and I would not counsel anyone to leave a church for such a reason. Exceptions don't make rules. What I look for in a church is that the pastor and the music people are properly educated in the music issue, that they understand what contemporary music is and why it is spiritually dangerous, that they are educating the church members in this issue, and that they are committed unhesitatingly and publicly to keeping contemporary music out.
4. Along this line, it appears by your comments in the email that you could benefit by pursuing better education in this important matter. None of the arguments you used get to the heart of the issue of contemporary music. For example, you cite the use of hymns by Wesley and Luther, but contemporary worship hymns are of an entirely different character. The people who are writing the contemporary hymns represent and promote the end-time, one-world “church.” Practically all of them (including Stuart Townend and the Gettys) are in fellowship with Rome. I have never known of a Baptist church that has become Lutheran by using Luther’s hymns, but I have known of dozens that have become contemporary by using contemporary hymns.
Could it be that this family discerned that you are dangerously uneducated in this issue and that you aren’t open to being educated? I don't know. I’m just throwing that out as a possibility. As I said, I don’t know any of the parties concerned, and I only have your side of the matter. It appears from your email that you are rather flippant about potential dangers in music (e.g., “I don't know and don’t really care”). You should get better educated about music for your family’s sake and your church people’s sake and for the next generation’s sake. One reason I care so deeply about the music issue and its effect on churches is because of my grandkids and the fact that I desire that there be sound Bible-believing churches when they are grown. We are witnessing a wholesale collapse of biblical separatism among fundamental Baptist churches. For example, Highland Park Baptist Church, where I was educated in the 1970s, is a full-blown contemporary church today, and music was at the heart and soul of that change. I have documented many examples of this in my free eBook The Collapse of Biblical Separatism.
I will be glad to send you a gift copy of my new book Baptist Music Wars, with the two video presentations that accompany it. This contains research that you won't find anywhere else. All you have to do is promise me that that you will read the book and watch the two videos carefully with an open and prayerful heart.
I have prayed for you and wish you the best in God's will. From my perspective, the greatest need of the hour is for godly, biblically-qualified, well-informed, courageous church leaders, and no one can make such a man but God. As Dr. Lee Roberson used to say, "Everything rises and falls on leadership."
The pastor never replied to my offer.
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