Thoughts on Music not Being a Controversy When It Really is

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Jonathan Charles's picture

A statement like: "We are not going to allow music to be a controversy," might mean, "If you don't like what we are doing, then don't bother complaining, because we have already made our decisions and we are going to stick with it, and if you complain you are creating controversy and division." 

That may not be what NIU means, but if it is, or when it has been what leaders of ministries mean whey they begin using more progressive music, it puts those who are committed to traditional music in a no-win situation.  They can't in good conscience sing the progressive music, but neither can they effectively dissent without being cast as the bad guy.

ADThompson's picture

The visual should show the smaller circle (Traditional) fully inside of the larger (Progressive) circle. I don’t think the progressive Christian would consider that any part of the traditional Christian's repertoire was “irreverent”.

The problem is that there aren’t just two circles. Since traditional Christians can’t agree on where the lines should be drawn, there are many progressively smaller circles in the conservative tradition. The musical landscape is a more complicated diagram.

What exactly did he mean by "We are not going to allow music to be a controversy"? I don't think we can be certain.

Joel Tetreau's picture

So we made this clear several years ago at SVBC -

1.  It's easier to build a fundamentalist church reaching primarily traditional believers with traditional music. In this model, contemporary believers and ministries are held in at least "suspect" and are kept at arms length in part because of their choice in music. You can do this and still be a carnal congregation.

2.  It's also easier to build an evangelical church reaching primarily contemporary believers with contemporary music. In this model traditional believers and ministries are held in at least "suspect" and are kept at arms length in part because of their choice in music. You can do this and still be a carnal congregation.

3.  It's a challenge to reach out to both traditional believers and contemporary believers using both traditional and contemporary music. While this is the most difficult approach it is also the most Biblical one. Ministering to each other with a traditional and contemporary approach to hymns, Psalms and Spiritual songs. In this model the traditional believer may not prefer a contemporary song but because he demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit rejoices that his brother or sister is touched deeply by a newer song, lead by the worship team. Then when we stand and sing "A Mighty Fortress is our God" led by our Pastor of Worship and Missions, with the Keyboard using only the "organ" sound - the contemporary believer is blessed that his more traditional brother has his eyes closed and his heart filled. Actually our experience is that while Godly contemporary believers love the newer music frankly they love (and maybe I should say they "really love") some of the deeper more theologically rich hymns of the past. How in the world we are convinced contemporary believers don't enjoy hymns is a mystery to me. Yes - you can't do this sort of thing in the normal contemporary or traditional church. You can do it in the blended church where the fruit of the Sprit is present with both traditional and contemporary believers. Having said that in all fairness a congregation can take this approach and still be a carnal congregation - but I think it's easier to be carnal with the other two approaches. Just my view.

4. In a direct response to the article I would say we have determined that (a) it is possible for sake of deference in the body, to exercise care that when using contemporary music that the style is not soooo contemporary that you wound the traditional believer & (b) There are traditional believers (and some contemporary) believers who sinfully pick up an offense that they have no business picking up. So what happens is that with the quote-in-quote tag of "not offending the brother" you can actually allow a certain (immature) section of the church to run their own private "taste" over the rest of the congregation.....all in the name of "conscience." This is a twisting of a right application of Romans 14 in my view.

5. So it is exactly what we say when you come into our congregation. Our approach is what we believe is right from the perspective of both our congregation at large and our leaders in particular. We try to be clear on this with those considering joining our congregation. That being the case -if you sow discord amongst the brethren because of a continual, nasty attitude - by pouting, refusing to sing because you know better than the musicians and elders who are responsible to choose music - we will warn you and if it continues you'll be met with Church discipline. This approach to "schismatic elitism" in music is not allowed in our congregation. It's OK for you to not "prefer" a song - and if you can show us from the Scriptures why a song is not Scriptural we will consider not using it. But this individual, "lone ranger" mentality that "you know best" and better than everyone else in the congregation is sick and divisive. I guess I already said that.

Be warmed and filled.

Straight Ahead!

jt

ps - I'm sure there are congregations that only use traditional or contemporary music that have sweet believers and who don't have attitudes towards other congregations that have a different approach to their music. I don't know very many - but I'm sure theoritically it's possible to have a congregation like that.

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Sean Fericks's picture

I am a bit concerned that the administrator may have been quote-mined.  It is very difficult to know exactly what the speaker means without some context.  Is it possible to link the NI presentation or to give a little more context?

 

DavidO's picture

We have done a Day of Prayer the last seven or eight years…. I didn’t want it to get to routine where you get into the same ol’ same ol’ all the time. So, this last year I thought I really want to tie this to a right view of God and worship because I think that is so woven in with prayer. So, I had met Jason and Drew earlier this year and was impressed with their teaching on worship and I invited them to come to join us, same with Josh Beers. I think for many of you it was a real blessing Day of Prayer.

Some expressed to me concerns that you were not comfortable with that day. And I just want to say to you I apologize for that. The last thing I ever want to do (indiscernible) is someone, especially students to be uncomfortable about something. That is not my intent. My intent is completely that we are united to worship God and learn to pray. It was probably different than we normally do and I know for most of you you’re thinking, “what is he talking about?” I think for some of you, you understand what I am saying. It was different. I go back to this; these principles have almost always driven when it comes to music in worship. Music is not going to be a controversy at Northland in the future. We are not going to let it [music] be. We are just not going to fight over that. It [music] is going to look different not that we’ve changed our core values and principles, but as you reapply those to the times it will look different. Most of our alumni that I am with look different than me…. People ask where is Northland heading in the future? I will say we are catching up with our alumni because I think they get it. When it comes to worship and music here is what I am committed to: 1) It’s Doxological. In other words, passionate pursuit of the glory of God above all things. 2) It’s Biblical: The commands and teachings of the Scriptures are the principles that guide us. 3) That it’s spiritual. That it’s in the heart. It is in the heart level and it manifests love. 4) Where it’s in the proper context.  I just want to say to you as students there are going be things that you may really love and really not love as much or feel uncomfortable, but if there’s ever a time like in a service you’re not comfortable with something, two things: 1) You feel free to step out and I’ve said even if God’s working in your heart you need to go and pray, you feel free to step out. I don’t want you to feel trapped by anything. 2) You know the door is always open to come and talk. I am not going to try to twist or change or convince. I just hope that you feel we can talk through these things. And I believe this with all my heart: If you live committed to these principals, what I’ve talked about: God’s glory, to be guided by the Scriptures in your life and do everything in love that God is going to bless that kind of life and ministry. As we lead Northland we don’t do things perfectly, but I want you to know the heart in that and the heart behind the Day of Prayer is to be unifying and I think for many of you it was. I don’t want to create a controversy of some saying, “did you think it was good or not?” I don’t even want to get there. How you feel matters. It matters to me. It matters to all of us here and we want your experience at Northland to thrive and be a real, real authentic Christianity that’s rooted in Scripture, the Word of Christ. ~Matt Olson

dgszweda's picture

Joel,

 

I would agree with your point #3.  While I would say that my church is a blended church (as really you also see a lot of fundamentalist go to to some degree), I have been in plenty of contemporary churches.  I have yet to see one of them not sing traditional hymns to some degree.  Many will not even play some of them with music and will slow them down to draw reverence from what is being sung.  I think many fundamentalist have this view that traditional looks one way, and contemporary is a bunch of tattooed guys only using drums and electric guitars and they these people have thrown out the past.  I have never seen this.

DavidO's picture

. . . if you sow discord amongst the brethren because of a continual, nasty attitude - by pouting, refusing to sing because you know better than the musicians and elders who are responsible to choose music - we will warn you and if it continues you'll be met with Church discipline. This approach to "schismatic elitism" in music is not allowed in our congregation. It's OK for you to not "prefer" a song - and if you can show us from the Scriptures why a song is not Scriptural we will consider not using it. But this individual, "lone ranger" mentality that "you know best" and better than everyone else in the congregation is sick and divisive.

Joel, do you think there are cases in which it is possible that someone sitting in the pew actually does know better than those picking the music?

Robert Byers's picture

Perhaps I'm reading this too closely, but this statement stikes me as odd. Joel said, "If you can show us from the Scriptures why a song is not Scriptural we will consider not using it."

If you have been shown from the Scriptures that a song is not Scriptural, what is there to consider?

Chris Ames's picture

Joel,

You would discipline an otherwise faithful believer out of your church for not singing along with songs that he is convinced are either beneath the glory of God or contrary to his understanding of Christianity?

Hmm... Where have I heard that before?

 

dgszweda's picture

Chris Ames wrote:

Joel,

You would discipline an otherwise faithful believer out of your church for not singing along with songs that he is convinced are either beneath the glory of God or contrary to his understanding of Christianity?

Hmm... Where have I heard that before?

 

 

I don't think he states this at all.  He is stating that if the believer is trying to sow discord or create a schism, this person would be dealt with.  This in my view is the right biblical approach.  This to me is no different than how you would handle an otherwise faithful believer who is sowing discord or schism over the KJV, or the family movement, or wearing hats.......  I can't speak for Joel, but I would assume that if someone doesn't want to sing the song, that would be fine, just as it would be fine if someone only used their KJV at church, or if they chose to have their children sit with them instead of going to Sunday School, or the woman choose to wear hats.  I believe the line that Joel is drawing is when that individual forces this belief on others,or tries to create problems over it.

DavidO's picture

dgsz,

Joel didn't nuance it like that.  He merely merely defines a "nasty attitude" as "pouting, refusing to sing". 

Although I'm not sure how someone who thinks reverence is as subjective as Joel seems to could ever hope to pin down something as elusive as "pouting".  Biggrin

 

 

dlhanson's picture

Joel had better take attendance also.  Over the years, we have been members of two Churches where a few times a year, the Pastor would invite a group in to perform Christian rock like the Northland group does.  Everything else about the Church was fine so we didn't choose to leave (and there weren't many Biblically sound Churches in the areas either) but rather we either stayed home or visited another Church while the Christian rock group provided their entertainment.

If a Church had Christian rock entertainment consistently, we would never visit that Church much less ask for membership.

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Ames's picture

dgszweda wrote:

I don't think he states this at all.  He is stating that if the believer is trying to sow discord or create a schism, this person would be dealt with.  This in my view is the right biblical approach.  This to me is no different than how you would handle an otherwise faithful believer who is sowing discord or schism over the KJV, or the family movement, or wearing hats.......  I can't speak for Joel, but I would assume that if someone doesn't want to sing the song, that would be fine, just as it would be fine if someone only used their KJV at church, or if they chose to have their children sit with them instead of going to Sunday School, or the woman choose to wear hats.  I believe the line that Joel is drawing is when that individual forces this belief on others,or tries to create problems over it.

But how would someone in the pew, an otherwise faithful member of the church, force his belief on other people? More specifically, if I wanted to try to do this, how would I go about it?

Should I bring a boom box to church, and while everyone else is telling Jesus that life is theirs to live, I'll blast the "Te Deum" in Latin? Or should I wait until after the service and tackle them in the parking lot, chanting a plainsong? Or perhaps you've seen other methods that were more effective before you banished the conservatives from your midsts and consigned them to the lot of the tax collector and the heathen.

I must know. It will make life so exciting! Smile

rogercarlson's picture

I can tell you how someone does what Joel is talking about.    The church I pastor is conservative musically.  But I had a former member do what Joel is saying in another area.  Whenever ANYTHING didn't go his way at a church business meeting, he would sit back and pout, fold his arms, and make it clear to everyone he was upset.  He would do this in a variety of areas.  When he was confronted privately, he left in a very nasty manner. 

Joel is not talking about someone quietly not singing.  He is talking about someone clearly making everyone know that what the church is doing is wrong.  At least that is my take on it.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

dlhanson's picture

This is what Joel wrote above:

"That being the case -if you sow discord amongst the brethren because of a continual, nasty attitude - by pouting, refusing to sing because you know better than the musicians and elders who are responsible to choose music - we will warn you and if it continues you'll be met with Church discipline."

 I'll trust that he means what he says:

1. What is the result of what you are doing?  "sow discord"

2. How do you "sow discord"?  "a continual, nasty attitude?

3. How do we know you have "a continual, nasty attitude"?  "by pouting, refusing to sing"

4. What will we do to you because we noticed that you were "pouting, refusing to sing"?   "warn you"

5. What will do to you if you continue in "pouting, refusing to sing" after we warned you?  Church discipline -- which according to the Bible means you will be put of the Church as an infidel if you don't repent.

It would seem that conservatives (musically) whose conscience is pricked but what they believe to be irreverent, worldly or even blasphemous music are not welcome in Joel's Church.

 

 

DavidO's picture

I'm willing to stipulate that Joel might not have written exactly what he meant, and that he may have meant something along the lines of what Roger describes. 

 

dlhanson's picture

A few days ago, I listened to a sermon preached by Larry Carrier at Morningside Baptist Church in Greenville (it's on Sermonaudio.com).  He is music minister at that Church.  I have not attended Morningside but the last I knew their music was conservative -- in line with BJU (Mr. Carrier is/was an employee of BJU).

In his sermon, Mr. Carrier told the congregation that they were not responsible to the Lord for the music sung/played in the Church but that he and the other leadership were.  He told them that they must trust their leadership. He told the congregation that if they asked him about a certain song that was sung/played that he would remind them of Hebrews 13:17

"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

 

And that would be the end of the discussion. (This is my recollection of the sermon -- I don't recall that he invited any other discussion.)

 

 

 

 

Joel Tetreau's picture

Roger had it right - the only thing I might add for sake of clarity is that the "removal" or threat of "church discipline" are for those who do not exhibit a sweet spirit but are intent on internally undermining the direction of music that the elders and congregation has already outlined. To be clear if a brother or sister really struggle with a song and the attitude is right - we'll go the distance to listen biblically. If a believer who understands our music approach coming in to our membership, and after singing week in and week out with his brothers and sisters cannot sin because his conscience won't let him - I'm not talking about dealing firmly with that kind of brother. It is the church member who consistently questions, consistently undermines who we are and where we are headed who is making a "show" of his or her "superiority."

So that may not help you - or maybe it does. I think the rest of what I said should be clear.

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

dlhanson wrote:

He told them that they must trust their leadership. He told the congregation that if they asked him about a certain song that was sung/played that he would remind them of Hebrews 13:17

"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

 

And that would be the end of the discussion. (This is my recollection of the sermon -- I don't recall that he invited any other discussion.)

 

 

 

 


Wow, I hope this came out differently than the way you stated it above. I think the pastor's response would certainly be appropriate for someone "creating strife," but if simply asking about a song that was played or used caused the response above, I think I'd be considering looking for a different church. Obeying and submitting does not include not "searching the scriptures to see whether these things are so" and then asking questions of leadership about the application of the principles involved. "Trust" of leadership doesn't mean to blindly follow...

Dave Barnhart

T. J. Klapperich's picture

Joel Tetreau wrote:

 If a believer who understands our music approach coming in to our membership, and after singing week in and week out with his brothers and sisters cannot sin because his conscience won't let him - I'm not talking about dealing firmly with that kind of brother.

 

Joel

I hope you teach your people that when their consciences won't let them sin, they should not violate their consciences.

Sorry, I enjoyed that typo too much.

 

T. J. Klapperich Winter Garden, FL www.cbwg.org

dgszweda's picture

Chris Ames wrote:

 

But how would someone in the pew, an otherwise faithful member of the church, force his belief on other people?

 

It can be passive (sitting and pouting), to actively talking against people.  Maybe when you have a fellowship at your house with other people from church, you begin talking about how "evil" the ESV is and that if everyone was really right, they would use the KJV.  There are many ways for this to get out of hand, and if you have been in church long enough you will have seen a few examples of it.  Even to the point of getting some people to bad talk the church leadership in a more open forum.

Joel Tetreau's picture

TJ,

Can you imagine the category of "faux pas" my editor's have had to live with? "Other worldly" no doubt! Well - if nothing else it adds to my humility - regardless. Watch out for the hurricanes!

Straight Ahead!

jt 

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Chris Ames's picture

So I am now a KJVO konspiracy kook, except with a Watts hymnal? I'm blushing in the warmth of your benevolence!

I think instead of responding in kind I'll just go with my idea of tackling people.

 

Greg Long's picture

C'mon, Chris, he's just using that as a parallel example. He's not saying anyone who holds to traditional music by conviction is also KJVO.

Do you seriously not know what it means to sow discord among the brethren?

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

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

TylerR's picture

Editor

And now for a bit of light-hearted fun, not directed at anybody . . .

 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Chris Ames's picture

I'm not feeling terribly creative at the moment, so I'll use your words. After all, if you didn't think they were fitting for the occasion, you wouldn't use them.

C'mon, Greg, don't you see that you tend to place things in parallel if you think that they are parallel?

Do you seriously think that discord among the brethren can only be sown from among the brethren?

 

Greg Long's picture

I don't understand your response, so I'll try to be more specific in my point.

You posted this:

Joel,

You would discipline an otherwise faithful believer out of your church for not singing along with songs that he is convinced are either beneath the glory of God or contrary to his understanding of Christianity?

Hmm... Where have I heard that before?

...which, of course, was not was Joel Tetreau was saying at all.

In response, dgszweda posted:

I don't think he states this at all.  He is stating that if the believer is trying to sow discord or create a schism, this person would be dealt with.  This in my view is the right biblical approach.  This to me is no different than how you would handle an otherwise faithful believer who is sowing discord or schism over the KJV, or the family movement, or wearing hats.......  I can't speak for Joel, but I would assume that if someone doesn't want to sing the song, that would be fine, just as it would be fine if someone only used their KJV at church, or if they chose to have their children sit with them instead of going to Sunday School, or the woman choose to wear hats.  I believe the line that Joel is drawing is when that individual forces this belief on others,or tries to create problems over it.

Do you really not see the analogy he is making? In fact, I'm sure he would agree the analogy could also be used for someone at a church which uses only conservative music who sows discord among the brethren in his desire for contemporary music. I really don't know how his post could be any clearer.

  • Not singing along with contemporary music if you are convinced traditional music alone is God-honoring = fine. Trying to force this belief on others or openly and repeatedly arguing for this in spite of pastoral warnings = sowing discord among the brethren.
  • Using the KJV in a non-KJVO church = fine. Trying to force this belief on others or openly and repeatedly arguing for this in spite of pastoral warnings = sowing discord among the brethren.
  • Keeping your children with you rather than sending them to children's church if you believe families should worship together = fine. Trying to force this belief on others or openly and repeatedly arguing for this in spite of pastoral warnings = sowing discord among the brethren.
  • A woman covering her head in church even if this is not the teaching of this passage by pastoral leadership = fine. Trying to force this belief on others or openly and repeatedly arguing for this in spite of pastoral warnings = sowing discord among the brethren.
  • Not singing along with traditional music if you are convinced contemporary music is also God-honoring = fine. Trying to force this belief on others or openly and repeatedly arguing for this in spite of pastoral warnings = sowing discord among the brethren.

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

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

rogercarlson's picture

Chris,

 

I will give you a different example.  We, as the leadership of the church, decided to use a Fundamental camp that we had never used years ago.  We were all in agreement, the only thing is it was a little more of a distance.  Well, when it was announced, one man was in the back pouting.  He didnt even have any children going, but he didn't think we should go that distance.  Well, then he proceeded to meet with many people in the church wondering why the leadership would do such a thing.  He never even brought it up to me as the pastor.  That is the attitude that we are talking about.  No, we did not discipline him.  But, he was the same man that we confronted later because he did something similar.  We didn't discipline him then, because he stormed out when confronted in a loving way.  If someone acted like this man did with musical choices, then yes the should be warned.  If they continue, they should be disciplined.  Because, someone with a godly conscience, is not going to act the way I described above.  Sowing discord is a wicked sin, that has to be dealt with.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Joel Tetreau's picture

I know of a church that was using new Sunday School material. Today this church is not using the same material because of several issues. During the "trial" period, each adult SS teacher was encouraged to use the SS material that had been approved by the elders of the church. The material in question came in three "versions" - First was a more academic version. Second was a partial academic and partial application oriented version, and finally, (we'll call it) "the easy reader's edition." Each SS teacher was told that if they wanted to skip over, add to or change this or that about the material they were using that would be fine. Imagine the hurt when one adult SS teacher took it upon himself to publicly belittle the material that the elders had determined to use (even though the use was only temporary and frankly "on trial"). This teacher did this on more than one occasion. Not only did the SS teacher in question throw the material under the bus - but in essence he was throwing the leadership of the church under the bus because he didn't agree with the choice in material and he used class time to explain how he would have done a better job in certainly writing if not choosing material. Instead of doing the right thing and using the material that had been given to him - changing the material to improve it as however he wished - he instead decided to "grand stand" in an attempt to show himself to be wiser than the pastoral leadership of the church. In the end he may have been right - but the honorable thing to do was to either honor the wishes of the leadership or to explain that because he was so opposed to the material in question, he would not be able to teach the class in good conscience. This would have been a God-honoring approach and one that would have aided, not undermined the health of the church. This stuff happens in church life all the time!

I know of other stories just like this where instead of a rough Sunday School teacher it was a rough Small Group Leader, Associate Pastor, or a disgruntled wife from a former church leader.........What has been particularly disturbing is a recent trend where seminary graduates come into a congregation and stir up angst within the leadership and congregation because the poor pastor doesn't have all the theological standards of the "young guys" that certainly know better than the poor sap who God and that congregation had placed into pastoral leadership.

Scripture's admonition - "Stop It!" There is a way to respond to things you do not agree with - the private meetings after or before the official "meeting" is typically sinful and the wrong way to respond to those things which you disagree with.

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

CAWatson's picture

I think Ames' first question was a serious one. I think his responses were meant to be taken tongue-in-cheek.

I am in a church that is taking a long transition towards a more conservative bent. Will I sing some songs? No. Is the pastor comfortable with these songs? No, and he doesn't always choose them. Will he sing them? Yes, for the sake of the unity of the brethren. But he and I are on the same page in working towards changing the affections of the church. But there is much work to be done. We recently changed our hymnal, and we are in the process of evaluating every piece in it for usefulness. Mr. Ames - come and join us. We'd love to have you. 

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