You are currently browsing the daily archive for April 13, 2010.

Those of you who are members of Reformed churches will have listened to or watched broadcasts from the White Horse Inn (WHI).

Here are two WHI broadcasts — one a video and the other an audio — which explore the state of our churches today.

In ‘What Do You Think about the State of Today’s Church?’ a variety of pastors, theologians and lay ministers give their views:

Those interviewed say that a variety of factors are responsible for the parlous state of evangelicalism and worship today, among them:

– the misguided notion that the purpose of Christianity is to make us happy

– Biblical illiteracy of parents which they pass onto their children

– parents who dump responsibility for religious education onto youth ministers

– churches which come in a variety of ‘flavours’ and styles; if you’re tired of today’s ‘flavour’, try another next week

– evangelists who lack a good knowledge of Scripture and, therefore, cannot preach the Gospel

– worship which resembles a television show — skits, concert-type atmosphere, dancing

A fascinating video that everyone should watch. Catholics, too, will find themselves nodding at much of what interviewees have to say. 

WHI also featured a series called ‘Be a Happy, Clappy Christian’:

Part 1:

Dr Michael Horton and his ordained guests discuss the preponderance of ‘happy clappy’ church services — even funerals.  As a result, we lack a biblical foundation for the trials and suffering that we endure in our lives.  We have reacted against hellfire and brimstone preaching, but our comfortable, happy services have gone too far the other way.  So, those in the congregation who need comfort from personal tragedy cannot find it.  Similarly, those who are sitting comfortably and need to be shaken out of their complacency don’t find the means of doing so.  The services assume we know Scripture and can figure it out for ourselves, but we no longer know or understand what the Bible says.  Everyone ends up a loser.

Part 2:

This segment discusses St Paul’s reaction to the various early Christian churches — some of them, like the church in Corinth, were also too happy, too complacent:

This clip features U2’s Bono, who grew up in a Protestant-Catholic household, discusses what the Psalms meant to him as a youngster and still give him comfort today.  Yet, how many teens today have the scriptural experience that Bono did growing up in the 1970s?

Part 3:

Happy clappy Christianity isn’t joy — it’s what you get when you walk through a mall.  One musician says that the unchurched will recognise God more in a sung lament than in a false, upbeat song.  Case in point: Amazing Grace, about saving a ‘wretch like me’.  ‘Avoiding the blue notes will do us in’, one of the panellists says.  The message, whether through music or preaching, must touch everyone — from the intellectual to the broken.

Part 4:

The problem with ‘happy clappy’ is that the style is contrived, mall-like — therefore, insincere and shallow.  It also doesn’t sound or feel like church used to or perhaps should.  What about ‘being sober-minded’, referencing Timothy?  What about the casual congregant who says, ‘I’m not going back because these people are somewhere else than I.’  In other words, this person is clearly unhappy and wants to know what Christ has to say to the suffering, the despairing person.  We can only meet this person’s needs when we move out of our world into the world of the Gospel. 

More tomorrow on Biblical literacy

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