Thursday, April 14, 2011

Worship Entertainment

Admittedly, I am a church critic.  I know its wrong, and I am working on it.  My area of biggest criticism is worship.  I love to worship God. But, I'm not really sure of how I'm getting there.

It seems that many contemporary churches are beginning to blur the lines between worship and entertainment. For our purposes, we will define worship as the act of leading people into there individual experience with God. Let us define entertainment as a performance to be enjoyed and participated in by an audience.  

We see that worship is God based.  Entertainment is human based.

I remember a time when churches didn't have a worship "team", but a song leader.  The song leader was someone in the church (who desired to serve the church), who picked out the songs to be sung, and actually lead the congregation in singing.   Sometimes, the song leader was good, more often than not, just capable.  But, it didn't really matter.  Nobody was at church expecting a performance from the song leader, nobody expected to be entertained. We went to church and sang the songs that we were lead in, for no other reason than praise and worship.  That's the worship that I remember.

The picture we have now is much different.  We have a team of people, the team is chosen based on their musical talents.  We go to church expecting some great music, when our expectations are not met, we are disappointed.  The worship leader/team (in conjunction with the lights, effects, and monitor ear pieces) behave on stage (formerly known as a platform), not as if they were leading a congregation into the presence of God, but as if we are all there to watch them sing.  

The greatest worship experiences I have faced have been those times without the stage/platform, no special equipment, just a dude with a guitar.  

I don't get up for church on a Sunday morning, to be sang to, or watch a stage show.  I don't go to church to see people that couldn't make it big as a musician, so they take their weekly 15 minutes of fame on the church stage/platform.  I get up for church on Sunday morning, to come face to face with God, a culmination daily spending time in His presence.

I am not opposed to either form of worship. I'm just a church critic, wondering where the line between entertainment and worship is at.  

It would serve every parishoner well, to remember that worship is about God.  Worship starts in the Heavens, and spreads to us, worship is our opportunity to join with the heavens and earth in praise and adoration to our Creator.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dead Spirituality

"I know your works; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead." -Revelation 3:1 (HCSB)

Today we have more access to the greatest preachers, Bible scholars, study guides, worship music, and ministry tools than ever before, yet many churches are a reflection of the church in Sardis (Revelation 3).  


Before our nation can experience spiritual revival and renewal, our communities must be revived, before or communities can be revived, our churches must be revived, and our churches will only be revived when individuals experience revival. 

The first steps toward spiritual revival are to realize what is leading, or has lead, to our spiritual death.

Why are we dead?

I think of Samson, he had made a vow of separation to God.  Yet, he repeatedly breaks the conditions of that vow.  Samson, mighty and strong, loses it all with his head in the lap of Delilah.  The main factor in spiritual death is, like Samson, failure to maintain separation from the world; failing to be in the world, but not, of it.  We start slipping to become, of the world, but not, in Christ.

We lack spiritual revival due to selfish PRIDE.

We must remember that the one mission of the church (and us, as Christians) is the salvation of souls. It is not about us.  It is not about what we look like, our social status, economic status, or position we serve in.

Many who are involved in the work of the church let themselves become more enamored with their performance and position, than with sharing the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

GREED for gain is a strong factor in the dragging down of our spiritual lives.

It is easy to get caught up in this striving for monetary gain, and the wealth of the world.  Every where we look we are blasted with messages of materialism.  It serves us well to remember that all we have has been given by God.  We are merely stewards.  The Old Testament instituted a 10% tithe.  However, if you read through the New Testament there is no mention of a standard tithing amount.  The New Testament believers, "gave to anyone as he had need"; this giving mentality exceeds, by far, the 10% "standard".

An ever-increasing hindrance to spiritual revival is the growing IGNORANCE of God's Word.

Too many congregations are full of people who merely do their "church" duty on Sundays.  They have been in church their whole lives, yet know nothing of the Word of God.  To experience revival it is imperative that we spend time daily in His Word.  We spend time reading, studying, and praying the Bible.  God's Word is the sword by which we can defeat those spiritual enemies that hinder spiritual renewal, and it is only by wielding this sword regularly that we are strengthened enough to defeat these enemies.

The final hindrance we will discuss is the absence of PRAYER.

Everything rises and falls on our prayer life.  Weak prayer life = weak Christian.  Strong prayer life = revived Christian.  Prayer is our connection to the Source.  Prayer is what affords us the opportunity to connect with the Restorer, the Renewer, the Reviver, Jesus Christ.  Without this constant connection we lose all spiritual power, and become dead.

In generations past, trolley cars were a main source of transportation through metropolitan areas.  These trolley cars were connected to a power cable.  Occasionally, one of these cars would "jump the line", and all would go black and dead.  So it is, with our prayer life.

If we desire to see revival in our land, we must first be individually, in our own hearts, be revived.

"Connect with God's Holy Spirit by prayer, and the power-house of Heaven will send down the power.  God help the church, pulpit and pew to rise from the dead, and be endued with the power." -Len Gaston Broughton

Monday, April 11, 2011

Doing Virtuous Business, by Thomas Roosevelt Malloch

Thomas Roosevelt Malloch, CEO of the Roosevelt Group and head of the Spiritual Capital Initiative at Yale University, presents an excellent argument for conduction virtues based business in his book, Doing Virtuous Business.

He opens with a discussion on spiritual capital.  Showing what exactly spiritual capital is and why it matters.  Then he sets out to define 'virtue', through Aristotle, the Greeks, and Christendom.

Available at
The remaining chapters of the book delve into the practical aspects of doing virtuous business.  The virtues of leadership, courage, patience, perseverance, discipline, justice, forgiveness, compassion, humility, and gratitude and how the shape the soul of a corporation are covered in depth.  The book hinges on Aristotle's "cardinal virtues" of temperance, courage, justice, practical wisdom, and the fact that without these no other virtues can be reliably acquired or exercised.

Malloch does not solely focus on Christianity as the only way to virtue, but other faith groups as well.  He conservatively utilizes today's big companies as practical examples (both good, and bad).  An appendix is provided, which outlines companies that are successful because the refuse to do anything other than virtuous business.

This should be required reading for anyone desiring to start, build, or maintain a successful company based on being virtuous.