hymns

In Defense of Love Songs to God

In Defense of Love Songs to God

“God isn’t your boyfriend!” It doesn’t take much Googling to pick out an assortment of articles skewering intimate love songs inappropriately parading as worship. “He is the almighty God, not your lover,” the criticism goes. “Don’t trivialize our holy, incomprehensible God.”

Is it really appropriate to sing, “I could sing of your love forever” or reprise again and again, “your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me”? Or how about “Revelation Song” where we sing, “You are my everything and I will adore you”? And of course, the most obvious offender: please tell me we should nix the embarrassing “How He Loves Us,” where we belt out, “And I realize just how beautiful you are, and how great your affections are for me,” and then the cherry on the sundae, “And heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss.”

Let me stand up against the pitchforked crowd in defense of the modern worship love song. That isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of songs out there that are weak theologically or that our diet of worship should be comprised primarily of love songs to God, but I do believe there is a place for us to sing love songs to God.

In Defense of Hymns

In Defense of Hymns

It is probably because of my background that hymns never felt boring or old to me. I grew up in a megachurch where we sang the popular fare of choruses of the day. “Awesome God,” “As the Deer,” and “Shout to the Lord” were the songs of my childhood.

It was in college that I really experienced hymns for the first time and they felt so fresh and different from what I grew up with. I attended an historic Congregational church replete with eighteenth century pews, an organ, and a hymn board. It was there that I began to learn of the rich treasure trove of hymns the church had been blessed with by centuries of saints.

The church I attended in seminary and then went on to be a pastor at for eight years incorporated at least two hymns in every service, sung in the traditional style, with organ accompaniment. New Life, where I currently serve as a pastor, has a modern style of worship, but even so, we still have not set hymns aside. While we typically sing updated versions, we still sing hymns about twice a month.

In the coming weeks I will defend modern worship, but before I go there, I want to defend holding onto hymns. Whether or not you sing modern worship as well, I would encourage you to continue to sing hymns.

Why would we hold onto music that is so antiquated? We don’t still wear wigs and corsets, why would we sing music from a bygone era?

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      "Nones" are Pursuing Spirituality but Not CommunityStephen Asma at the LA Times with a surprisingly critical take, "Many spiritual nones see themselves as authentic and liberated from the empty formalism of age-old ritual. There is some obvious good in this. But this strain of spirituality is largely detached from religious responsibilities and inconveniences, and it signals a generational shift toward isolation and short-term comfort."

2.      The False Gospel of Expressive Individualism: David Qaoud captures this pervasive phenomena well, "To say it another way, expressive individualism believes that each and every single person has the right to feel, believe, and think about themselves however they so choose. But even more, after you discover yourself (if you like the phrase), you’re free to express yourself. In fact, you must express yourself. Forget about what everyone else thinks. Forgot about any moral compass of right and wrong. Life is about you and your fulfillment. The goal of expressive individualism is to find yourself and express the desires you find."

3.      The Beautifully Tragic Backstories to Three Beloved Hymns: Mike Harland shares three powerful stories behind hymns you have probably sung before. It's amazing how connected creativity and suffering are in our relationship with God. 

4.      Whatever Happened to the Gifts of Language, Prophecy, and Healing? Andrew Wilson with a reflection on the early centuries of the church and the presence of charismatic gifts.

5.      Will These Audio Illusions Fool You? These are pretty fun... and weird!

10 Reasons to Leave Your Church

10 Reasons to Leave Your Church

It’s that time of year, when transitions happen: seasons close and new seasons begin. Maybe you’re a student who will be headed off to college in couple months. Maybe you got a new job. Maybe your employer transitioned you. Those are some of the many natural reasons that you might be leaving your church in the coming weeks.

Maybe you’ve left or are planning on leaving your church for entirely different reasons, though. Maybe your pastor is in a rut. Maybe the worship grates on you. Maybe you feel like you just don’t know anyone there any longer. Maybe you were injured by someone at the church and you tense up at the awkwardness of returning. Maybe you feel like you’re not getting spiritually fed there any longer.

In this four part series we will explore appropriate reasons for leaving a church, how to leave a church, how to choose a church, and how to join a church.

Let’s explore some of the most common reasons[i] people leave the church and reflect whether they are appropriate or not.