Summary: Dealing with Criticism in the life of the church.Fighting the Worship Wars.
“What To Do With Your Criticisms!”
The title of this message could have been, “What you Can Do With Your Criticism” but that has a couple of interpretations. It could also have been entitled, “What You are Doing with Your Criticism.”
But we need to recognize that one of the fundamental truth’s about a Baptist church is that if you have 300 people you have 350 opinions of how the church should be run (because some people can not make up their own minds).
I am reminded of the story that was told of “a father who attended church with his little boy, and found fault with everything in the service. As he walked home, he criticized the preacher, the sermon, the choir, and everything in general. The boy, who had noticed what his father put in the offering plate, said, “Well, Dad, what can you expect for a dollar.” [Spiros Zodhiates. Illustrations of Bible Truths. (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 1995) #154]
Now on a serious note, I have been deeply troubled of late as I reflected the dissension that seems to be going on within our church. But after talking to several other people in other churches it seems to be prevalent problem.
Some let me begin by addressing what I know to be a few concerns in our church at present.
First let me say, if you don’t like the fact that we have a praise team leading the music on Sunday Mornings, I am the one to blame. Perhaps some of the problem is that I simply did not do a good job of telling you what we hoped to accomplish by the addition of the Praise team. My reasoning was that I thought that it would help to promote, more congregational participation in the singing. Some would argue that it has not, we will just have to wait and see on that one.
Some apparently have gotten the idea that we would be discontinuing the choir and or the use of the piano. Neither is true. I greatly value the choir and what they add to the worship service. Vicki Weaver has done a marvelous job with the choir. The fact that the choir comes down to sit in pews during the service is again my decision. I don’t enjoy having a sizable group setting behind me as long as I have partial empty pews in front of me. I will admit that finding the proper time and method for getting the choir into the pews is still a matter of ongoing experimentation. But we are not going to phase the choir out. Neither are we going to discontinue the use of the piano.
Some do not like the use of Taped Music. What can I say, we will use taped music from time to time but it will never replace the use of instruments. And I am sure that some don’t like the Addition of a Guitar, but if the truth be known I would love to see a church orchestra. Why do we have to be limited to one instrument or at the most two (piano & organ) in our worship services?
Then there is Choruses versus Hymns consideration, again why does it have to be one or the other. While I am pastor (which may be about 20 more minutes) we will always sing the great hymns of the faith. But are we going to say that God has not inspired any music in the last 50 years? And just because it was included in an old songbook does make it a great hymn. Some of the contemporary music is not very deep and some of the stuff written 50 years ago was not either. We will continue to use a Blended Service in which we attempt to use the best of the old and the new. (Some wit has said “A blended service is where you try to make both the young and the older equally miserable.”) I hope that is not the case,
It is not my intent to ever go to a completely contemporary service, why should we turn our backs on some of the best songs just because they were not written this year. We ask our young people to learn to love the old songs of the faith and we ask you adults to learn to appreciate some of the newer praise songs. The song that Josh, Tom and Jana sang as a special tonight is good example of a blending of the old and the new!
As we consider how to express our concerns to others let’s turn to Paul’s letter to the Romans and chapter fourteen. I want to read this to you tonight from the translation called “The Message”
Romans 14:1, 10, 19
“Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you do not agree with – even when it seems they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. (10) So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. (19) So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault.”