Dear Dan ...
Why I Left the Contemporary Worship Movement
In true worship, the only preferences that matter are God's. Do we really think that the Lord of lords actually likes rock music?
On Tuesday, April 18, 2006, Mr. Dan Lucarini spoke at Friendship Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. Following is the text of an email I sent to him after reading his best-selling book, Why I Left The Contemporary Christian Music Movement: Confessions Of A Former Worship Leader. Dan is a businessman who lives with his wife Judy and their three children in Colorado. He was a worship leader for several evangelical churches in the USA, and was also a rock music performer, arranger and composer.
April 20, 2006
I saw you at Friendship Baptist Church this past Tuesday, bought your book, and just finished reading it. For what it's worth (and I discern from your presentation that you welcome feedback), here are a few thoughts I have on what you said, and on what I've experienced.
One issue I don't think you hit hard enough was, "What is it that prepares traditional churches to consider the change to Contemporary music and contemporary worship styles?" I think this is key. Two things, at least, happened.
First, the church changed its purpose for gathering on Sunday morning. The purpose used to be to worship God. Now, the purpose is ostensibly to evangelize. When Moses wanted to take the children of Israel three days into the wilderness to worship, he explained that they had to leave the land because the Egyptians would find their worship abominable (Ex 8:26). In the New Testament, Paul explains that the cross is a stumbling block to unbelieving Jews, and foolishness to unbelieving Gentiles. The proclamation of the Gospel is an offense to unbelievers. Without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God. In view of all this, why would we want unbelievers in worship? Paul didn't even want backsliders there.
As we know, there are no "seekers" as the modern church defines them. The Bible says no one seeks after God, and no one will come to Christ unless he is drawn (a rather forceful word in the Greek) by the Holy Spirit. The Bible nowhere commands unbelievers to attend worship services; nowhere commands Christians to bring unbelievers to worship. We see the first century Christians going out into the world and evangelizing in the world, and we see the unbelieving community FEARFUL of the community of the faithful. But that was 2000 years ago. Today, in our "wisdom," we design our whole Sunday morning service around the comfort zone of the enemies of Christ. And instead of obediently going to them, we try to lure or persuade them to come to us.
Secondly, we have forgotten what true worship is. Check out Isaiah's experience in the temple in chapter 6. Most Christians enter into God's presence like they're going to a show, and often dressed like they're going to a ball game (or maybe to clean out the garage). In true worship, the issue of "your preferences vs. mine" is IRRELEVANT, because the only preferences that matter are God's. We are there to worship HIM, not to please ourselves or each other. God struck down Nadab and Abihu for their irreverence, and He told Moses exactly why He did: "By those who come near Me, I must be regarded as holy." This should end the music debate forever. There is NO WAY that a Christian should DARE to even consider entering into the holy presence of God accompanied by hip-swinging, blasting or sensuous rock-and-roll music. What kind of a "god" do we serve? Some cheap disco deity? or the Supreme Lord of all the earth? Do we really think that the Lord of lords actually likes rock music?
I've been in many churches in Raleigh, including many "conservative, fundamental, Bible-believing" Baptist churches, and have yet to find one that "gets it." I've sat through sermons where Christ's Name is barely mentioned. Usually, the time in the sanctuary before the service begins is as raucous as a nightclub, with folks wandering around chatting, telling stories, etc. (This irreverent behavior is referred to as "fellowshipping.") If I thought the worship leaders were carrying on like that in the back room as "preparation" for worship, I'd be totally disillusioned. But the point is that we are as much a part of the "worship team" as they are, and with our boisterous, uncaring and unrepentant spirits, we're totally unprepared and totally unfit to enter into the presence of a Holy God. This is why He often doesn't show up, and because of the deadness resulting from His absence, we seek to fill the void with edgier music, Starbucks coffee, entertaining sermons, drama teams and all the rest.
If we really believed that God is holy, and that His Presence would be among us on Sunday morning, how would we dress? How would we act? I've asked this question to many Christians, including clergy, and almost always get the same answer: "God is a God of diversity, etc." We have no concept of the holiness of God, and can't fathom the fear the Israelites experienced when God's Holy Presence came down on Sinai. Today, Christians routinely ascribe the attribute of holiness to: smoke, cows, "moley," as well as some other rather tasteless, and sometimes vulgar entities. It's really no wonder that something as base and foul as rock and roll music does not offend the sensibilities of many Christians. Many no longer have sensibilities to offend.
When Peter, James and John saw Christ transfigured, and when Isaiah saw the LORD, I believe rock and roll music was the furthest thing from their minds. And they didn't think the experience was boring or irrelevant.
When the church decides to worship; when we decide as a people that we want to be in the presence of the God Who Is (rather than the "Prozac Jesus" we've manufactured, or the unpredictable but docile, favor-granting "god" we pray to and claim to serve), then the church will make a difference. But for now, all we really have is 501(c)3 religious franchises that are boring, irrelevant, irreverent, and impotent. We bicker about the "rapture" while we murder out children. (Oops! We're not supposed to mention "family planning." Might offend the 'seekers' before we get the opportunity to share the Gospel with them.) Just who are we fooling?
God's Holy Spirit will not convict the world of the sins that are enjoyed in the church. We have the keys and we set the standard. Whatsoever we loose on earth (the physical realm) WILL be loosed in heaven (the spiritual realm).
One parting thought: You correctly stated that a lot of the students are probably non-Christians who simply know how to behave in a Christian environment. You might have made the same comment to the clergy. (Matthew 7:23 comes to mind).
I look forward to your next book.
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