"Church survival doesn't depend on music style."

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Observations from my church

 

My church, founded in 1963, added a separate contemporary service (in addition to the existing traditional service) on Sunday mornings in about 1994.  At the time (I've been told), starting from scratch, that service grew slowly but steadily.

By the time I arrived in 2000, the contemporary service was outdrawing the traditional service.  Perhaps six or seven years ago, we had to add another, second contemporary service on Sundays because the existing one was overflowing.

In August, 2014 we added a Saturday evening service, since we felt there was a need/demand for it in our area.  (Statistics will tell you that about 30-35% of people who are employed are working on Sunday mornings, which rings true when one stops to think about it.)   Well, we chose to make our Saturday service contemporary, based on the folks we thought were likely to attend.  It started with typically 225 in attendance; now, less than two years later, it routinely draws 400 (and continues to grow).

Then in August of last year, with both of our Sunday contemporary services packed, we converted our gymnasium to a second auditorium, becoming a multi-venue church for two of our three Sunday service times.  Since the overflowing services were/are contemporary, the music in the second venue is also contemporary.  (Everything is live in the second venue except for the sermon, which is live-streamed from the main auditorium.)

What's my point in describing all of this?  From a church that was 100% traditional barely two decades ago, our attendance break-down today is about 20% traditional vs. about 80% contemporary.  In the past two years alone, our attendance has increased by about 40% (we just had over 4,000 for Easter 2016 weekend, compared to about 2,800 for Easter 2014).  

In which service type are we experiencing this growth?  It's virtually all in the contemporary services.  The traditional service attendance has been steady, but relatively stagnant.  It is in our contemporary services that we are seeing the great preponderance of visitors, new attendees, salvations, baptisms, and new members.  

    

What did our grandparents listen to outside of church?

It's worth noting that when i was a kid, I had the chance of looking at my granddad's music collection--he died in 1963--and he had everything in there besides rap and rock-n-roll.  My hunch is that if the music is done well--pay attention to the theological content and poetry of they lyrics, make sure that we're actually doing the genre instead of just adding drums and electric guitar--a lot of squabbles will disappear.  The trouble is that a lot of church "musicians" will need to take a few more lessons to achieve this.  They don't have to be Satchmo, but get some of those musical cues right for jazz or blues!

Three pictures of this.  First, my stepdad, who paid his way through college partially by playing at a piano bar, noted that one church pianist we knew and loved mostly just played loud.  Dynamics, even in traditional churches, are too often ignored--that removes a huge part of how the music ought to interact with us, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.  (sometimes when I pay attention to this in my church's choir, my kids joke that it's almost as if I had a solo)

Another example is that many young harpists have taken to playing hard rock and heavy metal songs on the harp, and what's surprising when one listens to "Harptallica" or the "Harp Twins" (or others) is that unless you knew the songs already, you'd simply listen contentedly--they're really musically very good (both the original songs and the harp renditions).  

Third, Weird Al.  How many of us would cringe at "Gansta's Paradise" but would chuckle along to "Amish Paradise", or enjoy "Like a Surgeon" but not the original?  All of these are demonstrations that if we pay attention to the critical points of genre, lyrics, poetry, and the like, a wide range of styles can be acceptable to a very wide range of people. 

Bert Perry wrote:

Bert Perry wrote:

The trouble is that a lot of church "musicians" will need to take a few more lessons to achieve this.  They don't have to be Satchmo, but get some of those musical cues right for jazz or blues!

Three pictures of this.  First, my stepdad, who paid his way through college partially by playing at a piano bar, noted that one church pianist we knew and loved mostly just played loud.  Dynamics, even in traditional churches, are too often ignored--that removes a huge part of how the music ought to interact with us, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.  (sometimes when I pay attention to this in my church's choir, my kids joke that it's almost as if I had a solo)

Third, Weird Al.  How many of us would cringe at "Gansta's Paradise" but would chuckle along to "Amish Paradise", or enjoy "Like a Surgeon" but not the original?  All of these are demonstrations that if we pay attention to the critical points of genre, lyrics, poetry, and the like, a wide range of styles can be acceptable to a very wide range of people. 

This is so seriously out of touch. Bert, you can slam church musicians all you want but in general, they work harder on their craft than people in almost any other area of church ministry. When is the last time you "took a few lessons" for whatever you do in church (which is itself silly because you don't pick up the nuances of music in a few lessons anyway)?

A typical church musician will often work on for hours at home on a 3 minute piece of music that is a tiny fraction of a church service. What other ministry in the church do you see that kind of dedication in?

The truth is that there are a lot of churches out there and not nearly enough musicians. Churches have to take what they can get because almost all church musicians are amateurs and busy people with real jobs and families and don't have the time to practice to get to the level you apparently think they should be at. It is just impossible on many levels for every church to have great music.

Seriously in touch

Greg, I realize you make a living doing this, and therefore are going to be sensitive about it, but no, I think I am seriously IN TOUCH about this.  Let's go through some examples:

1.  About 90% of the time I hear Wagner's Wedding March played, the organist or pianist is not completing the chords--they've learned to play mostly with the right hand.  

2.  Same thing goes for a lot of church pianists/organists in smaller churches do the same.

3.  I've personally taught several people I've sung with in church choirs how to read music.  Others have not quite caught on because there's no one to teach them.

4.  When a local Christian rock band came to play, I realized after their concert that I couldn't remember a thing they'd said because the meter was all over the place--it was free verse without the genius of someone like Walt Whitman.  Their drummer was also trying to cover for a bassist who simply wasn't filing his role--which for most of their songs would have been variations on the 12 bar blues.

5.  Choral songs brought to the church with, let's be blunt here, far less than several hours of practice.  

Your mileage may vary, but independent of the effort put into presenting the music, what I'm seeing in too many places is not exactly at a level where you'd have to get a Juilliard graduate to improve it, to put it mildly.   And it is my contention that this, not the inherent differences in musical styles, is one of the primary drivers of the worship wars.  

And when's the last time I took some lessons or extra effort to improve my game in these things?  Hint; I am an engineer.  If I don't do it daily, I quickly become unemployable, and I take that attitude to church as well.

It is harder and harder to

It is harder and harder to find a church when moving into a new area that is traditional in music.  And when you do find one, they often have some doctrinal issues (such as KJVO....).

With that said, one of the challenges I have had with the contemporary services is 1) a lack of regulative principles, 2) lack of theology around music, and 3) lack of understanding as to the purpose of worship.  I have seen some contemporary services done right, but all too sadly I have seen way more done wrong.

Bert Perry wrote:

Bert Perry wrote:

Greg, I realize you make a living doing this, and therefore are going to be sensitive about it, but no, I think I am seriously IN TOUCH about this.  Let's go through some examples:

1.  About 90% of the time I hear Wagner's Wedding March played, the organist or pianist is not completing the chords--they've learned to play mostly with the right hand.  

2.  Same thing goes for a lot of church pianists/organists in smaller churches do the same.

3.  I've personally taught several people I've sung with in church choirs how to read music.  Others have not quite caught on because there's no one to teach them.

4.  When a local Christian rock band came to play, I realized after their concert that I couldn't remember a thing they'd said because the meter was all over the place--it was free verse without the genius of someone like Walt Whitman.  Their drummer was also trying to cover for a bassist who simply wasn't filing his role--which for most of their songs would have been variations on the 12 bar blues.

5.  Choral songs brought to the church with, let's be blunt here, far less than several hours of practice.  

Your mileage may vary, but independent of the effort put into presenting the music, what I'm seeing in too many places is not exactly at a level where you'd have to get a Juilliard graduate to improve it, to put it mildly.   And it is my contention that this, not the inherent differences in musical styles, is one of the primary drivers of the worship wars.  

And when's the last time I took some lessons or extra effort to improve my game in these things?  Hint; I am an engineer.  If I don't do it daily, I quickly become unemployable, and I take that attitude to church as well.

You are probably very qualified to judge engineers. Musicians? Not so much. It is no problem; you are just out of your comfort zone but until you understand music a bit better, maybe a little less judgment and dogmatism is in order. 

It is laughable really. You seem to think that a few lessons will make a mediocre musician into a good one. Not hardly. It takes years of work to do that and even then, that is not considering that the average church musician works full time, probably has a family and other responsibilities and is active in other things in church rather than just music.

I am not sensitive about it at all. I am just saying very confidently that you are not qualified to be commenting on this in the way you are because you don't know what you think you know.

Two Easter anthems, written nearly 300 years apart:

 

Christ the Lord is Risen Today:

"Christ the Lord is ris’n today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth, reply, Alleluia!
Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!
Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!
Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!
King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy pow’r to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!"

http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Christ_the_Lord_Is_Risen_Today/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzy7jFNUc3w

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Forever (We Sing Hallelujah):

"The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Saviour of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse upon him

One final breath he gave
As heaven looked away
The son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Forever he is glorified
Forever he is lifted high
Forever he is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Forever he is glorified
Forever he is lifted high
Forever he is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome

We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome

Forever he is glorified
Forever he is lifted high
Forever he is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

You have overcome
You have overcome
You have overcome
You have overcome"

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/karijobe/forever.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6duzVn5M6E

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The first is clearly traditional; the second is clearly contemporary. 

What say anyone here: Is there a place for both in our services today? 

(Disclaimer: My church has used both at Easter services, although only the first this year.)

 

Greg, it's "appeal to authority"

Specifically, that's the logical fallacy you're committing there.  Would we then assume that our hypothetical Juilliard graduate--magna cum laude of course--would then override you if he were so inclined?  Do we then count the days spent in instruction, or the accolades won, and declare the one with the greatest weight the winner, if we've got two Juilliard graduates with honors on hand?  And what if we had Jascha Heifetz and Isaac Stern both sitting there, both holding their favorite Stradivari ....?

One would hope that we would see the absurdity of such illogic.  And really, one does not need any great expertise in music to figure out that half the choir can't read music (ATB all try to sing the melody in their octave), that the drummer cannot do a drum roll, that the organist isn't completing the chords, and the like?  If my examples are representative of what is seen in too many churches, really anyone who's spent a year or two in band, orchestra, choir, or piano lessons can figure that out.  

It's really the same deal as when a pastor (so to speak) has never learned sound exegetical and hermeneutical methods.  One doesn't need to have his own MDIV or DD to figure that out, but rather you'll just hear that pastor mangle his interpretation of passages, and he'll also tend to use himself as the measuring stick for Scripture.  A reasonably well educated layman can figure these things out.

Ah yes, whenever the

Ah yes, whenever the discussion turns to music, Greg H trots out the "you're not qualified to comment on this." And yet Greg, you feel very qualified to comment on many other threads here on SI.

I have no doubt as to your musical qualifications, but please stop using that as your trump card in musical discussions when "qualifications" or lack thereof don't bother you in other discussions (which I have no problem with you contributing in, BTW).

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Kari Jobe and modern music

Larry, I've been at churches where Ms. Jobe's work is used, and my big objection to it is not the music itself--though sometimes her work seems to do too much to "fill the empty spaces", the fallacy of "add more musicians and it'll be more musical"--but rather that sometimes it seems that almost all CCM sounds about the same--more or less light rock about Jesus, one dominant singer, etc..  

Come to think of it, I've got about the same problem with a lot of traditional music churches--"traditional" more or less meaning camp meeting songs from 1850 to 1950 or so.  OK, some of those are great....but if the Psalms vary in mood, and we vary in mood, what about our music?  If we want modern music, what about jazz, blues, black gospel, appalachian music....and the Psalms in a klezmer style?  What about some power chords after a light rockish song?  What about some tight harmonies to emphasize 1 Cor. 12?

I agree: variety is a good thing

 

Bert Perry wrote:

If we want modern music, what about jazz, blues, black gospel, appalachian music....and the Psalms in a klezmer style?  What about some power chords after a light rockish song?  What about some tight harmonies to emphasize 1 Cor. 12?

 

I used that particular song as an example due to Easter having just passed.  Actually, we do make use of a fair variety of musical styles.  And as a positive, we have some highly accomplished musicians (on several instruments) & singers.  For example, we are blessed to have two professional violinists in the church, on the order of "Has occasionally soloed with the Minnesota Orchestra" and "Has played for the President at the Kennedy Center." 

 

Ah yes, and whenever Greg H

Ah yes, and whenever Greg H says anything, Greg L gets annoyed ;) 

OK Greg L and Bert, I am not saying that you have to be a musical expert to pontificate on music. But I will maintain that it would be useful to know at least a little something before pontificating so dogmatically. In this particular situation, we have an example of someone who clearly is out of their comfort zone speaking as an authority. 

Yes, I am a modernist who values experts. 

Out of comfort zone?

Greg H., ,you're doubling down on the appeal to authority fallacy.   The reason you catch flack from Greg L. and myself is simply because it's bad logic and it dulls, rather than sharpens, those who read it.  

And really, there's (sadly) nothing I've said that I couldn't explain to anyone who was willing to listen and think, really even someone who is tone deaf.  At a certain point, to paraphrase your first comment, all those hours of practice are worse than nothing if the musician hasn't mastered the basics like completing chords, cadence, reading music, and the like.  They're just making bad habits deeper.

Bert Perry wrote:

Bert Perry wrote:

Greg H., ,you're doubling down on the appeal to authority fallacy.   The reason you catch flack from Greg L. and myself is simply because it's bad logic and it dulls, rather than sharpens, those who read it.  

And really, there's (sadly) nothing I've said that I couldn't explain to anyone who was willing to listen and think, really even someone who is tone deaf.  At a certain point, to paraphrase your first comment, all those hours of practice are worse than nothing if the musician hasn't mastered the basics like completing chords, cadence, reading music, and the like.  They're just making bad habits deeper.

Whatever on the logic thing... I will value experts over armchair know-it-alls, but that is just me. 

Here is where I double down. When you use phrases like "completing chords" and talk the way you do, it tells me you are not a musician and don't know music. Doesn't matter how loudly and dogmatically you pontificate or how much you believe you are an expert. Any real music expert is going to read you and say "this guy does not know what he is talking about." Sorry but that is the way it is.

Anyone else read the OP article?

 

Here is Stetzer's (concise) summation: "I leave you with this: most churches that want to reach their community will be more, rather than less, contemporary."

Agree?  Disagree?

Observations from my Church (redux):

 

Since about 1994, my church has had both traditional (organ, grand piano, robed choir, hand bells, etc.) and contemporary services (guitars, bass, keyboard, drums, etc.).  

As I wrote above (earlier in this thread):    

"In which service type are we experiencing...growth?  It's virtually all in the contemporary services.  The traditional service attendance has been steady, but relatively stagnant.  It is in our contemporary services that we are seeing the great preponderance of visitors, new attendees, salvations, baptisms, and new members." 

"From a church that was 100% traditional barely two decades ago, our attendance break-down today is about 20% traditional vs. about 80% contemporary."

 From one of the websites linked to in the OP article:

 

"As new people come into a church and hear the kind of music they have already been listening to, just with different lyrics, they are more likely to be drawn in to the worship.  In some ways you might say it is the same kind of battle the Protestant Reformers fought to get worship in the language of the people.

I think churches should examine their worship to seek God’s desire for what corporate worship should look like in their church.  Lots of times, worship that used to be meaningful has lost its cultural relevance, and if we are going to engage the hearts, minds, soul, and strength of the worshipers, we must find a language that they can speak in. Too many of our churches are resting comfortably in the safety of tradition, not wanting to rock the boat. Change is generally not easy, but is so often necessary.

Some things to consider: Statistical data shows that growing churches today more often have a contemporary or blended style of worship.  There are some churches with very traditional worship that are also reaching people.  The vast majority of churches in America have traditional worship, yet the majority of churches experiencing tremendous growth are of a contemporary or blended style. Ed Stetzer, in his book Comeback Churches says that there are some churches that have found traditional to be an effective approach in their community, but this is an exception, and most comeback churches (declining/plateaued churches that have made an incredible turnaround), he states, are moving in a more contemporary direction."

http://blog.ncbaptist.org/renewingworship/2011/03/03/worship-wars-4/

 

Growth-for-the-sake-of-growth (purely for pragmatic reasons) is unacceptable (see: Joel Osteen).  I would be the first to argue against that modus operandi that results in growth.  That's not what I'm arguing for. 

What I'm arguing for is an honest evaluation of whether an engrained preference  is what hinders some of us from reaching greater numbers of the lost. 

Alrighty then

Greg, if you don't start with good logic, you can have multiple earned doctorates, and the only thing you'll say of value will be effectively by accident--broken clock theory and all.  There is no amount of expertise that can redeem bad logic.

Period.  Full Stop.    

Moreover, are you really going to assert that a misuse of a term (maybe) means that someone can't figure little things out?  Seriously?  By that logic, an error in stating a theorem of calculus would mean someone couldn't do basic arithmetic.  See a wee little problem there?

Here's a sample, if you're curious, of my music experience.  I'm one of the taller clarinetists on the right side, I think we placed 3rd in the nation that year.  So yes, I do happen to understand that the left arm should be doing something, about crescendos and descrescendos, about tempo, and the like.  So your comments are not merely logically ignorant, but factually, too. 

There is a point to expertise, but that point is not groundless personal attacks based on the minutiae of how a term was defined for you in music theory class in college.  

Differing Conclusions

The study indicates that churches with traditional music can effectively grow and reach their community.  The study also indicates that the majority of growing churches utilize contemporary music.   Therefore, some conclude that churches wanting to grow and reach their community should use contemporary music.  Or not.

Besides the twin problems of effecting growth by the "give 'em what they want" approach, and assuming that numerical growth equates with effective outreach, could there by another valid conclusion to draw from this evidence?  Consider this:  since some churches that employ traditional music grow, using contemporary music is clearly not essential to church growth. 

Why not turn things around?  Decide first what style music is most God-honoring, employ that style, and then trust God to make the church grow as it pleases Him.  Or does such an approach force us to depend too much upon Divine blessing rather than human strategizing?

It seems to me that the contemporary Christian music defense is overly driven by pragmatism rather than principle.

G. N. Barkman

where is growth happening?

Larry, I would tend to agree that music is one quick way to recognize a church that is ready to grow.  I've seen it myself as my family left a closet wannabe KJVO** church with traditional music for a fundamental church (EFCA) that used modern music.  About a third of the people there had left the old church, many with the same comment "I'm not going back".  It was uncanny.  Music was a big part of it--there are only so many revival songs you can take--but all in all, I'd argue that it was more a shorthand for "we understand that we have to minister today, not in the 1960s."

David's comment at 10:48 yesterday illustrates this very well.  If you unthinkingly hold to old music, you're going to unthinkingly hold to a lot of other things, and then you're going to wonder why young people have no desire to be around.

**Closet wannabe KJVO defined; where the pastor flat out denied he was KJVO, but over time we noticed that every resource he brought in was KJVO, including two sources that flat out contradicted one another--one (Chick) arguing for the Old Latin, another arguing for the TR.  

I rather my home church

be found faithful than to see it grow for growth sake.  Then, we have a saying at HSBC:

Nobody comes to San Francisco to go to church.

Most of our growth has come from new believers or from folks who don't want "contemporary" services.  Though, in SFO, the later many times also includes the pulpit.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Others

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Why not turn things around?  Decide first what style music is most God-honoring, employ that style, and then trust God to make the church grow as it pleases Him.  Or does such an approach force us to depend too much upon Divine blessing rather than human strategizing?

It seems to me that the contemporary Christian music defense is overly driven by pragmatism rather than principle.

I can agree to some extent but disagree that only one style is God-honoring (not really sure if you took it that far or not but usually anti-contemporary generally means hymn only in our circles).  Since Scripture doesn't address the style and specifically show us what is most God-honoring, you have to glean from Scripture how it says we honor Him through music.  The purpose of music and singing is to worship (we sing to the Lord in Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16) and to edify one another (we sing to one another in both passages and edification is shown in I Cor. 14:12).  It is interesting that singing for myself doesn't seem to be the focus in any of these passages!  The only place that gives any indication of singing for my benefit is in I Cor. 14:15 where it says we should sing with understanding.  That passage was talking about speaking in tongues and people coming in and not understanding anything.  It then uses singing as an illustration that we must sing with understanding.  Certainly that means for outsiders as well since it is in the context of the passage.  That would seem to indicate that we do have those without the church in mind as we sing...we want them to understand as well.  You can interpret that to mean that we only need to worry about them understanding the words but if they can't get past the strange music or style to even get to the words then we really have a problem.  Likewise, there are people in the church that can't get past a contemporary style and also some that can't get past the hymn style to understand the words either.  So what do we do?  The Ephesians passage talks about addressing or speaking to one another in song and then goes on to say "submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."  The trajectory of Scripture seems to be that I do what edifies others more than seek to please myself.  Should we have a reverse worship war?  I don't see anything in any passage that limits the style to one.  On the contrary, it would seem to indicate many styles and much diversity.  Granted, I can't be dogmatic on some of this but I certainly don't see ground for limiting to one style either. 

 

BTW, you spoke of pragmatism and contemporary music.  Considering the result of an action is not pragmatism (not sure if that is how you would define it) as illustrated by the passages I just mentioned.  We should use the tools God has given us to help others (even those outside the church) sing with understanding and to help edify the believer and to worship God.  Doing that is not pragmatism but is Scriptural. 

Who Decides What is God-honoring?

This statement seems to be crucial:

Decide first what style music is most God-honoring, employ that style, and then trust God to make the church grow as it pleases Him.  

It appears that each "side" seems to have made that decision.

 

 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Here is a further take.  In

Here is a further take.  In my opinion, the contemporary churches are actually the churches that are following the historic movement of culture within the church.  I am not talking about a contemporary church service that looks more like a concert than a church service.  But like I said before, I often find the churches that are holding to a conservative style are ones that are held into a 1970's style that fears any movement.  Whereas churches in the past moved with the culture (I did not say look like the culture).  There was a time when Fanny Crosby was modern church music, and from what I read, the churches took her music in, even though some of her tunes were secular modern tunes.  Most contemporary church services follow the same style.  1) Announcements, 2) 2-3 songs, 3)offertory, where someone plays some special music), 4) a choir song, 5) another song or special music, 6) preaching for 30 minutes, 7) close in prayer, with maybe a "Just as I Am".  Any change to that style or those songs and heresy is thrown out.  I know I am making some generalizations, and not all churches are like this.  But I often move around the country every 3 years and I visit a lot of churches, and typically this is what you see.  But what is becoming more apparent, like I said above is that many of those conservative styles are actually an indication of the church holding onto some other beliefs or styles that I have issues with.  The churches seem dead, dry and stale.

Some of the more dynamic churches that I have seen are those that have a specific philosophy and theology around worship.  Where they are looking at songs that have solid theology, do not make it a concert, mix traditional with contemporary, and spend less of a focus on special music and choirs and more on congregational singing, congregational prayer and longer preaching timeframes.  Most of the conservative style churches that I have visited are more focused on the specifics of where things are found, their association and that the service is 1 hour long, while most of the conservative evangelical mixed style churches are having services that are 1:30 to 2:30 long, and are focused more on prayer, preaching and strong congregational singing.  To me the music is just a broader indication of what is going on in the church.  I was a member of a strong and growing baptist church in Florida, where the preaching was often times 1:15 or more, prayer time was 30 minutes and singing was a solid 30 minutes.  The singing was a good mix of traditional and contemporary songs with no piano, no drums and about 3 or 4 string instruments (including a guitar or two).  There was no choir and there was no special music.  The church was filled with young single adults despite the fact that there was not a single young adult program.  The growth and dynamics of the church was not really about the music, but about the whole experience, and the music was just one element among many.  At the same time, I had previously attended a church in that same city in Florida, and it was a conservative church that was pastored by a very young BJ graduate.  The sung out of a hymnal, it was every verse, there was rarely a smile from anyone while they were singing, and it was very cut and dry.  The church was dead for all intents and purposes, but unfortunately the congregation hadn't realized it yet.  Again, it wasn't just the music.  It was the quick 30 minute preaching, the 4 songs that everyone already had memorized, as well as other things.  To me it is more than just the music, but I think the music may sometimes be one indication.

GregH

I know how you feel brother. I have felt that myself. Certain people, because they are a quality control engineer (as I understand it), or because they have read Genesis 1 and have a dog-eared copy of The Genesis Flood, or have read 19th century philosophy of science, think they are experts in Big Bang Cosmology. They have a Bible believing expert in physics and cosmology sitting right in front of them, and they don't care... Their opinion trumps knowledge I guess.

Oh well...

Sad.

 

Regression?

I recently purchased the Trinity hymnal to add some theological depth to the hymns in our service. Is that a regression?

I'd also say that many churches, particularly smaller churches, are lucky to have somebody who can even play the piano half-way competently, let alone a professionally-trained musician. You often have to make due with what you have. 

 

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

My musical response to music debates

http://www.metrolyrics.com/everyday-people-lyrics-sly-the-family-stone.html

Sometimes I'm right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I'm in

I am everyday people, yeah yeah

There is a blue one who can't accept the green one
For living with a fat one trying to be a skinny one
And different strokes for different folks
And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo

Oh sha sha we got to live together

 

Sermon title

I'm preaching on Heb 11:1-3 this coming Sunday. I don't take the word ὑπόστασις to be an abstract assurance or confidence (e.g. Tyndale, ESV, NET, NASB), but a tangible, concrete reality or substance (e.g. KJV, NKJV). Thus, I have entitled this sermon, "Faith - It's More Than a Feeling . . ."

Get it? 

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Mark_Smith wrote:

Mark_Smith wrote:

I know how you feel brother. I have felt that myself. Certain people, because they are a quality control engineer (as I understand it), or because they have read Genesis 1 and have a dog-eared copy of The Genesis Flood, or have read 19th century philosophy of science, think they are experts in Big Bang Cosmology. They have a Bible believing expert in physics and cosmology sitting right in front of them, and they don't care... Their opinion trumps knowledge I guess.

Oh well...

Sad.

I wonder if it is more of a blessing or a curse to know everything about everything...

Well....

GregH wrote:

 

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

I know how you feel brother. I have felt that myself. Certain people, because they are a quality control engineer (as I understand it), or because they have read Genesis 1 and have a dog-eared copy of The Genesis Flood, or have read 19th century philosophy of science, think they are experts in Big Bang Cosmology. They have a Bible believing expert in physics and cosmology sitting right in front of them, and they don't care... Their opinion trumps knowledge I guess.

Oh well...

Sad.

 

 

I wonder if it is more of a blessing or a curse to know everything about everything...

Well, Greg & Mark, since you, on the basis of your knowledge of music and astronomy, feel that is sufficient information to release yourselves from the laws of logic, maybe you've got the answer for us?

By the way, I've never commented on big bang cosmology here.  And I'm trained originally as a EE--we're the guys that gave musicians their unit for loudness and named the deci-bell after a hero of ours, Alexander Graham Bell.  We also learned how to quantify how all those chords mathematically, and we can point out the differences between resonance and dissonance with sinusoidal and Bessel functions.

But of course we know bupkus about music.  We just design your radio and your amplifier.  The one that goes all the way to eleven, of course.  And we know nothing about astronomy.  We just design the electronics that run your telescope and imaging.   Knowing relative power levels and where those signals are coming from, and what frequencies they're using, has nothing to do with it, of course.  Certainly we don't learn the principles of how to figure these things out in our coursework.  

You know, gentlemen, there is an intellectual tradition called the "liberal arts" which contends that a person trained in the basics of knowledge--grammar, dialectic/logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music--can speak intelligently about a wide range of subjects and need not be the hostage of a real or pretended authority.  Between you, you've got at least two of these down and presumably four--I spent enough weekends at the Adler in Chicago to learn there's some serious arithmetic and geometry there--but hey, let's go for seven.  See where it goes.

Maybe we can just each

Maybe we can just each declare our credentials at the beginning of each thread so we can see who is actually qualified to comment on the topic at hand. Or maybe put them in our post signatures? Or maybe Aaron could design a filter that filters out people who aren't qualified to comment on a particular topic? Greg can comment on music threads, Mark on science threads (but wait, if we're talking about creation in Gen. 1, isn't that a biblical studies thread?), Dr. McCune might be the one most qualified to comment on theological threads.... (Not sure what I'm qualified to comment on...Philadelphia Phillies baseball? The epistemological development of pre-ministry undergraduates at Bible college according to the Perry Scheme?)

Or maybe we can each use arguments from Scripture and reason (as Luther would say) to argue our positions. We can draw upon our own areas of knowledge and expertise without using them as trump cards and conversation stoppers.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Greg Long

You wrote:

Or maybe we can each use arguments from Scripture and reason (as Luther would say) to argue our positions. We can draw upon our own areas of knowledge and expertise without using them as trump cards and conversation stoppers.

That's madness! You must be joking! On the other hand, perhaps I shouldn't try to be funny. I don't have any credentials in comedy . . .

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Peet = zero posts

Greg Long wrote:

Maybe we can just each declare our credentials at the beginning of each thread so we can see who is actually qualified to comment on the topic at hand.

Peet = zero posts

Well, here we go:

 

In his 1993 book Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism, Douglas McLachlan identified "Focusing on Mechanical Forms rather than Biblical Principles" as being a key issue that is problematic within fundamentalism.  On page 9, he wrote:

"The first and clearest evidence that one has slipped into this mode of thought is the tendency to confuse traditional forms with Biblical substance."

After some elaboration, he continued:

"At the heart of this problem is our inability to think principally rather than mechanically.  We fail to see that, while the message is inflexible, the methodology is versatile.  Within Biblical parameters methods may change without compromise.  This refusal to govern our thinking by principles means that we begin to absolutize non-absolutes so that methods become tyrants rather than servants.  The result is that authentic ministry is actually stifled by the idolization of one particular method." 

Of course, the "elephant in the room" as far as church methods are concerned is music.

---------------------------------------

Many among us defiantly confuse "traditional forms with Biblical substence."  We have made an idol of "one particular method."  The tragic result, as McLachlan points outs, is that "authentic ministry is actually stifled."  I'm seeing increasing signs though that change is brewing. 

I was at a very well-known IFB church a year ago (March 2015) for a funeral.  (Understand that this church has long been known for its staunch musical traditionalism.)  During the funeral, there were four songs: two traditional hymns (which now I couldn't name), and two song selections that greatly  surprised me: Blessings, by Laura Story (which won the 2012 Grammy Award for Best CCM Song), and Praise You In This Storm, by Casting Crowns.  (IMO both songs are very appropriate for use in a funeral, BTW.)   From the conversation after the funeral, both songs were very well-received, deeply touching those in attendance.

I know two churches in the Minnesota Baptist Association (long known for its traditional music-only position) which have (quietly) begun to include some CCM songs (one church calls them "praise choruses") in their services.

 

Not sure this is the right venue....

Not sure this is the right venue, but I'll ask it anyway.  Since church "survival", which evidently is synonymous with numerical growth, is the subject, and one would assume that that growth is primarily through evangelistic endeavors into society, there is a question that is begging. 

What is the Biblical imperative that indicates that music of any style is a tool of importance/choice for evangelism in ours or any culture?

Lee

Not an "either/or" choice:

 

Craig wrote:

.... so .... music is the ingredient for growing churches .... and not preaching

 

It's both.....and more.

Historically, I can think of many churches and/or evangelists known for their evangelistic prowess that recognized that music is a powerful, allied evangelistic tool.  Think of D. L. Moody, and the great song leader Ira D. Sankey immediately comes to mind.  Billy Sunday had Homer Rodeheaver.   Bob Jones Sr. utilized music greatly in his early evangelism.  Billy Graham (whatever your opinion is of him) had Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea.  Spurgeon famously deplored much of the contemporary hymnody of his day (which ironically is what we today so often idolize), yet he didn't seek to oust it from the Met Tab---he recognized its evangelistic value.

  

@ Lee

Lee wrote:

Not sure this is the right venue, but I'll ask it anyway.  Since church "survival", which evidently is synonymous with numerical growth, is the subject, and one would assume that that growth is primarily through evangelistic endeavors into society, there is a question that is begging. 

What is the Biblical imperative that indicates that music of any style is a tool of importance/choice for evangelism in ours or any culture?

 

Singing praises to God can be a witness to unbelievers:

"1 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
3 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!"
(Psalm 105:1-3 ESV)

-----------------------------------------------------

Paul and Silas sang in prison, and it served as a witness to unbelievers:

"25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God." (Acts 16:25-34 ESV)

-------------------------------------------------------

Just for a start......

 

I Cor. 14:15

Lee wrote:

Not sure this is the right venue, but I'll ask it anyway.  Since church "survival", which evidently is synonymous with numerical growth, is the subject, and one would assume that that growth is primarily through evangelistic endeavors into society, there is a question that is begging. 

What is the Biblical imperative that indicates that music of any style is a tool of importance/choice for evangelism in ours or any culture?

I had given I Cor. 14:15 earlier as an indication that we should have those outside the church in mind when we sing.  This passage says that we should sing with understanding.  The context of the passage was addressing speaking in tongues and those outside the church coming in and not understanding what they were saying.  Then he used music as an illustration to say what we do in the church setting should be understandable to those without the church.  That doesn't necessarily state that is for evangelizing, but we certainly should be aware of their presence when we sing and do so in a manner in which they can understand. 

Facebook as a leading indicator:

 

On the Facebook pages of many people who attend traditional music-only IFB churches, I have almost  ceased to be surprised by often seeing CCM listed under their music favorites.  Locally, I see KTIS (the large local Twin Cities CCM radio station) on numerous such people's Facebook pages, and/or a variety of CCM singers or groups.  I even know of some traditional music-only IFB church staff members  whose Facebook pages list CCM favorites.

 

Larry Nelson wrote:

Larry Nelson wrote:

 

 

Singing praises to God can be a witness to unbelievers:

"1 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
3 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!"
(Psalm 105:1-3 ESV)

-----------------------------------------------------

Paul and Silas sang in prison, and it served as a witness to unbelievers:

"25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God." (Acts 16:25-34 ESV)

-------------------------------------------------------

Just for a start......

 

The question was "What is the Biblical imperative that indicates that music of any style is a tool of importance/choice for evangelism in ours or any culture?"  Unquestionably music--singing and instrumentation--are commanded elements of worship in both the Old and New Testaments. Furthermore, I Cor. 14 makes it clear that legitimate, orderly worship emphasizing the gift of prophecy (for "......edification...exhortation...comfort...") over the less understandable gifts (tongues, etc.), and assumedly including music, will oftentimes result in conversion of unbelievers. Conviction is a product of the proclaimed truth of God's Word and is not limited to purely evangelistic presentations of that truth. 

However, that music in worship as the Psalms passage(s) indicate may, through the proclamation of truth, affect unbelievers towards truth does not give anything close to an imperative for music as a significant component for evangelistic church growth.  Throughout the Psalms music is an expression of the redeemed to the redeemed and to God.

The Acts passage is a non-sequitur: there is nothing that indicates the jailer was even aware of the singing--he woke up after the earthquake and that was his first awareness that anything unusual was going on.

 

Lee

@ Lee

 

In regards to Acts 16, I didn't mention the jailer.  The other prisoners  clearly heard though.......and the reason they didn't flee was due to the witness (in prayer & song) of Paul & Silas (at least that's how it's always been explained by the preachers I've heard.....).  The implication is that their hearts were being softened to the Truth.

 

How about this one:

"He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord."
(Psalm 40:3 ESV)

 

Note my other post above too: evangelists past & present have always placed a high priority on music as a key element of their outreach.  Of course that doesn't mean they're operating from any Biblical imperative; perhaps they only have seen it as helpful & expedient.  (If so: Pragmatists!)  Smile

--------------------------------------------

Note too: there is a whole sub genre of Christian hymns, songs, etc. that by their very nature are intended to be mainly, if not solely, evangelistic.  Just As I Am  is an obvious example.

Evangelism

Lee wrote:

The question was "What is the Biblical imperative that indicates that music of any style is a tool of importance/choice for evangelism in ours or any culture?"  Unquestionably music--singing and instrumentation--are commanded elements of worship in both the Old and New Testaments. Furthermore, I Cor. 14 makes it clear that legitimate, orderly worship emphasizing the gift of prophecy (for "......edification...exhortation...comfort...") over the less understandable gifts (tongues, etc.), and assumedly including music, will oftentimes result in conversion of unbelievers. Conviction is a product of the proclaimed truth of God's Word and is not limited to purely evangelistic presentations of that truth. 

However, that music in worship as the Psalms passage(s) indicate may, through the proclamation of truth, affect unbelievers towards truth does not give anything close to an imperative for music as a significant component for evangelistic church growth.  Throughout the Psalms music is an expression of the redeemed to the redeemed and to God.

The Acts passage is a non-sequitur: there is nothing that indicates the jailer was even aware of the singing--he woke up after the earthquake and that was his first awareness that anything unusual was going on.

 

Short of a passage that says "Thou shalt use music as an evangelistic tool," I'm not sure what else you need.  A plain reading of I Corinthian 14 says that when we sing we need to be aware of those that are in the service that are not of the church and what we do when we sing needs to be understandable to them.  That doesn't mean we have to use music strictly evangelistically (with a call to Christ).  They can learn through the teaching of music that is also edifying the Christians. That can be accomplished with hymns, or in my opinion, contemporary music as well.  And yes, music is the secondary thought in the passage but that doesn't disqualify it from the plain meaning of the text.  I'm not sure what else you are looking for.

Say what?

Greg Long wrote:

Maybe we can just each declare our credentials at the beginning of each thread so we can see who is actually qualified to comment on the topic at hand. Or maybe put them in our post signatures? Or maybe Aaron could design a filter that filters out people who aren't qualified to comment on a particular topic? Greg can comment on music threads, Mark on science threads (but wait, if we're talking about creation in Gen. 1, isn't that a biblical studies thread?), Dr. McCune might be the one most qualified to comment on theological threads.... (Not sure what I'm qualified to comment on...Philadelphia Phillies baseball? The epistemological development of pre-ministry undergraduates at Bible college according to the Perry Scheme?)

Or maybe we can each use arguments from Scripture and reason (as Luther would say) to argue our positions. We can draw upon our own areas of knowledge and expertise without using them as trump cards and conversation stoppers.

Huh?  How'd I get dragged into that one?  :^)

I'm going to prefer to stick with "encouraging people to promote their inner polymath and learn the tools of logic and rhetoric to honor God", or something like that.  Sounds a whole lot better than having incessant squabbles over credentials, and it could, I guess, include the epistemological development of pre-ministry undergraduates at Bible colleges, maybe even according to a scheme I might someday devise.

(Bert it was the title of my

(Bert it was the title of my Ed.D. thesis. Perry Scheme refers to William Perry of Harvard U. Sorry for the confusion, I was just trying to think of one possible area in which I might out - credential everyone else. Smile )

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

My attempt

"What is the Biblical imperative that indicates that music of any style is a tool of importance/choice for evangelism in ours or any culture?"

Lee, great question, and my personal view is that you will not find any Biblical admonition to use any particular genre, but one passage that comes to mind is 1 Cor. 9:20, where Paul notes that he becomes like those he is trying to reach.  Now that would have limits--I'm pretty sure that our brother in Grand Rapids has not actually joined a gang to minister to former gang members, for example--but he has gotten up to speed on some Christian rap,   Another example is that I personally insist on my kids trying a variety of ethnic foods to get them used to eating something that isn't their usual diet.  Hey, you want to reach people, it's best not to irritate them by turning up your nose at curry, haggis, or whatever.

But I must confess that I struggle applying that implication of 1 Cor. 9:20 when I'm around people that like light rock or easy listening.  Thankfully, in the circles I inhabit, I don't hear too much of it outside of some churches trying to be relevant.

As opposed to...

Greg Long wrote:

(Bert it was the title of my Ed.D. thesis. Perry Scheme refers to William Perry of Harvard U. Sorry for the confusion, I was just trying to think of one possible area in which I might out - credential everyone else. Smile )

As opposed to William Perry of Clemson and the Chicago Bears, of course.  :^)  I am enjoying the confusion, especially since some of my earlier comments on some of the travails of Bible colleges might give rise to the idea that I also had such a model.   And of course I just learned a bit about your reference as well.

Larry Nelson wrote:

Larry Nelson wrote:

 

 

Craig wrote:

 

.... so .... music is the ingredient for growing churches .... and not preaching

 

 

 

It's both.....and more.

Historically, I can think of many churches and/or evangelists known for their evangelistic prowess that recognized that music is a powerful, allied evangelistic tool.  Think of D. L. Moody, and the great song leader Ira D. Sankey immediately comes to mind.  Billy Sunday had Homer Rodeheaver.   Bob Jones Sr. utilized music greatly in his early evangelism.  Billy Graham (whatever your opinion is of him) had Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea.  Spurgeon famously deplored much of the contemporary hymnody of his day (which ironically is what we today so often idolize), yet he didn't seek to oust it from the Met Tab---he recognized its evangelistic value.

 

 

what are the Biblical instructions to the church for music? …

Larry Nelson wrote:

Larry Nelson wrote:

 

Lee wrote:

 

Not sure this is the right venue, but I'll ask it anyway.  Since church "survival", which evidently is synonymous with numerical growth, is the subject, and one would assume that that growth is primarily through evangelistic endeavors into society, there is a question that is begging. 

What is the Biblical imperative that indicates that music of any style is a tool of importance/choice for evangelism in ours or any culture?

 

 

 

Singing praises to God can be a witness to unbelievers:

"1 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
3 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!"
(Psalm 105:1-3 ESV)

-----------------------------------------------------

Paul and Silas sang in prison, and it served as a witness to unbelievers:

"25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God." (Acts 16:25-34 ESV)

-------------------------------------------------------

Just for a start......

... not saying there is not application here, but neither of these circumstances are in the context of a local church meeting of the body of Christ …

 

RickyHorton wrote:

RickyHorton wrote:

 

Lee wrote:

 

Not sure this is the right venue, but I'll ask it anyway.  Since church "survival", which evidently is synonymous with numerical growth, is the subject, and one would assume that that growth is primarily through evangelistic endeavors into society, there is a question that is begging. 

What is the Biblical imperative that indicates that music of any style is a tool of importance/choice for evangelism in ours or any culture?

 

 

I had given I Cor. 14:15 earlier as an indication that we should have those outside the church in mind when we sing.  This passage says that we should sing with understanding.  The context of the passage was addressing speaking in tongues and those outside the church coming in and not understanding what they were saying.  Then he used music as an illustration to say what we do in the church setting should be understandable to those without the church.  That doesn't necessarily state that is for evangelizing, but we certainly should be aware of their presence when we sing and do so in a manner in which they can understand. 

 

.. the primary context of 1 Corinthians 14 is tongues versus prophecy so I’d be hesitant about building too much doctrinal teaching concerning singing with this passage except to say the song must be understandable… since Paul was the apostle to the gentiles and was given the most revelation concerning the church,  my thought would be what does Paul’s epistles, especially the “pastoral” epistles of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, say about music specifically instructions to the church …

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