Wanted - An Old-fashioned Church Wanted:
An Old-fashioned Church
(We are looking to answer the cry of this heart)
To Whom it May Concern: I’m looking for a good Christian church. I don’t want to sing songs off a wall, the same five notes, over and over and over and over again while I am light-headed from standing so long. There’s a record of the hymns of God’s people that spans 2000 years. Why are we so arrogant as to think we don’t need those wonderful songs any longer? Have we gone through more suffering, more afflictions, and more pain for Jesus than those who wrote these enduring hymns? Does a semi-secular songwriter in Nashville with a multi-million dollar music contract have more to say to us about God and the Christian life than the 17th-century hymn writer who lost four children and his wife during the 30 years War?
I don’t want to have my eardrums bashed in by the three kids in the ”worship band” who can’t be bothered to bathe, shave, dress or comb their hair on Sunday morning. If it’s really all about the God that Scripture describes as ineffably holy, shouldn’t that be reflected in attitude and dress for those who serve in church music? I don’t want a vampy “praise and worship” leader who is flaunting her wares at every male within view as she does her worship moves on “stage”.
If we are to worship God in spirit and in truth, as Scripture tell us, than what’s all the flesh about? Can we no longer discern the difference? I don’t want to see people in beach attire with their backsides peeping out of their shorts because they think that God isn’t worth their best efforts at dressing. “God doesn’t care about clothes, only man,” they say. But the real reason is that it’s just plain easier to cruise into church in jeans or whatever is still lying on the floor from the night before.
Dressing up for worship of the Lord would cost them something, however little, and they don’t want to pay it. I also don’t want to see all the variations on lovers’ back rubs where Chuck and Sue take turns massaging each other’s neck and shoulders during the sermon so everyone behind them is completely distracted.
Behaviour affects other people. Are Christians so self-absorbed that they never think about the people behind them trying to hear the message? I don’t want to hear announcements during “worship” about the youth group pizza blast and laser tag event next Tuesday night, the need for grills for the upcoming church funfest or jokes about how Bill burned the wieners last summer at the church picnic. Why can this not be put at the end after our “worship” is completed? I don’t want Christian karaoke for “special music”.
Screeching females trying to imitate their favourite pop stars belong at the local bar, not a house of prayer. Let me tell you what I am looking for in corporate worship of believers. I’m looking for a spirit of reverence among God’s people, a sense that we have come to join in with the company of angels, archangels, and the church triumphant who gather before God’s throne in that never ending heavenly worship.
I’m looking for a service that is founded upon and completely focused on God and His Word. I want to begin the worship with an entrance Psalm, to be reminded that in worship we enter heaven’s gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. I want to hear the name of God invoked at the beginning, opening the worship in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, without which Spirit, we worship in vain. I need to confess my sins, receive the comforting assurance that God has forgiven me, and I want to corporately confess my faith with my fellows believers. I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our LORD.
I need to sing of God’s holiness, His attributes and His greatness through the hymns of the faith that have been handed down through the ages from the pens and the lips of those who have gone before us. Why? Because God is truly “Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise, in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes.” Because God is “Holy, Holy Holy,” our “Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” Because it is right and fitting that our souls should “praise the King of Heaven.”
He is worthy of all our praise because He is “Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendour”. To discard this canon of music of Christ’s church down through time is to turn our backs on our family in the faith. In 21st Century America, we truly do not know better than they. [I have italicised with quotation marks what I know to be HYMNS. AM] I need to hear the Scriptures read out - as much of it as possible. Three Scripture lessons are hardly enough. How often has a passage of Scripture read out spoken to my heart about something? Why is Scripture so often limited to the text of a message, if it’s there at all now? The Old Testament Lesson. The New Testament Lesson. The Gospel Lesson. I need all the lessons that God’s holy Word can provide.
I need to hear the Scriptures preached from a man of God, who is a man of prayer and personal holiness and who takes seriously his office of under-shepherd. Why do I want preaching? Because faith comes by hearing, the Bible says, and hearing by God’s Word. I need conviction of the Holy Spirit in my own heart and life. I want to be reminded who God is and my duty before Him. I don’t want a pastor who spews vulgarities and crude talk to show how “real” he is, or who feeds on Hollywood so that the only thing that comes out of his mouth is foolishness in his pathetic attempts at cultural relevance. God’s Word is eternally relevant. I can tell where the pastor gets his life food from. It always, always shows. Any pastor who is not a man of the Word and of prayer is no pastor at all.
I want a pastor who prays for his sheep, who understands that we are in a spiritual battle, and that Satan hates us and will do anything he can to try to take our faith from us. I want elders who lead by example with their families. No family is ever perfect. That’s why we need the forgiveness of our Saviour daily. But elders should be leading lives that are Christ-honouring in their marriages and in their leadership and training of their children. When the children of an elder are worldly and carnal and disrespectful, it is plain that they are not keeping their homes in order.
This kind of leadership no church needs because how will the members learn how to run their own homes and families if no godly example is in view? We are sheep. We need leaders. I want a time of serious prayer in church, seeking God for His help and wisdom in these dark times, for the needs of the congregation and for the witness of the fellowship in the community. As we kneel, we’re reminded of our utter helplessness without the Lord. I want a benediction at the end of the worship, where the pastor tells us to go in peace, because we have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, have been forgiven for our sins, and have the joyful assurance that God is with us and will take care of us.
This kind of old-fashioned church might meet in a rented room, a home, a gymnasium, a new, modern building, a vine-covered, old brick traditional church, a little white frame building or anywhere else. It is not the location that matters; it is the content and focus of the worship, and the heart of the leaders of the church. Outside of the corporate worship, I want a church that believes in evangelism and outreach. Doctrinal clubs that sit smugly complacent are actually mausoleums. Who wants to worship in a tomb?
There is a world out there that needs the message of the Gospel. It is our responsibility to take it to them, and churches should facilitate and train members for this critical mission. Truly saved believers have a burning heart to share it with others. I want to be part of a church that has this burning heart. I want to be part of a church where the young people are not just going on mission trips because they get to have fun in cool places, but because they get to share with those who have never heard the truth that Jesus saves.
Social work is fine, but the Gospel message of Jesus must be heard loud and clear in the midst of it. If you know of such a church in my area, would you please contact me at the earliest convenience? I would be grateful. Sincerely, A CHRISTIAN