Ephesians 4:15, 16 reads, "speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."

Through the uncomfortableness of some early med school experiences for my husband, the counsel of others, and the ministry of the Spirit, God taught us the importance, umm, dare I say, the absolute necessity of speaking the truth in love. Truth without love is as piercing and ineffective as a lone clanging cymbal, and love without truth is simply not love at all.

It's from these lessons that we got our daughter's name: Aletheia Love.

I'm still painfully shy about speaking up though. I guess that's why learning is considered a process. It takes time. But when I came across an article posted in my Facebook thread that saddened my heart, I felt as if I needed to identify, at least for myself, some pitfalls contained therein. So this is a sorting out of my thoughts, a mental arranging of what is truth, tradition, opinion, or preference.

Dear Bill,

I've re-read your blog post, "Why I've Stopped Singing in Your Church", several times, trying to make sure I am understanding the content the way in which you intended. I've prayed about it, discussed it with my husband, and wrestled over whether or not to say anything at all in response. Yet, even though I've done all those things, I'm sure I've still misunderstood or taken you out of context at times, so please forgive me if I have.

Let me start out by saying, that I've visited a good deal many churches myself and have experienced the same heart struggled that you've expressed. It's honestly quite sad to find that in some churches "worship" is no longer about God, but about what is most popular within the community in which the church operates. So I can relate to what you are saying. What saddens me about your writing is that it seems to be a frustrated rant, not a passionate love for the erring brother and the purity of the truth. You've taken personal offense at the expression of someone else's preferences. {"I often feel insulted, bored, and disconnected from 2,000 years of worship history."} I understand that you are concerned for preserving the sacredness and holiness of worship. That is good. I appreciate your desire to proclaim truth in song in a way that glorifies The Truth. What concerns me about what you've said is that you seem to be so focused on worship history that you are insulted by, bored of, and disconnected from the brothers and sisters with which you worship in various churches today.

Regarding your desire for the preservation of worship history and fellowship with past saints, I wholeheartedly agree. There is a depth to old hymns that often cannot be matched. In short, I love them. However, I grew up singing them and have had them explained to me a good many times. Your mocking those who are not able to relate to them or fully understand them comes across as unloving and unhelpful. I'm not saying play down to simplest understanding all the time, but have respect for those who are learning and lovingly educate the church with good doctrine. Love and truth together must form the foundation for worship style.

Regarding what specifically bothers you "about the worship music in many Evangelical Christian churches today":

1. They're really, really simplistic. 
Again, let's not mock. Rather build up. Confront. Encourage. Sharpen one another in truth and love. And let's remember that simplicity isn't wrong. Nowhere in Scripture does it specifically require that musical texts always be stuffed full of deep truth like the wisdom and experience of a 90-year-old saint. Certainly we have many examples of this throughout Scripture {e.g. Psalms}, but there are other instances in which a simple phrase was sung in a heart of worship {Ex. 15:21}. Dismissing a song because you feel it's beneath you maturity-wise seems arrogant. Child-like faith is one of the key elements of our spiritual life. "But Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven'" {Matthew 19:14 ESV}. I myself often have to sing "Jesus Loves Me" as a way of reminding myself of foundational truth, a song I struggled to sing once I got older because I felt I was too grown up for it. We are never too grown up for the "simple" truth that Jesus loves us.

2. They're all pulled from the latest Top 40 Worship channel. 
I see you admit you're "painting with a broad brush here", and I agree that discarding worship history is sad and even dangerous, but if your concern is content and the preservation of rich texts why are you bothered by old hymns being revitalized by new music? The truth is still there. Actually, I'm forced to focus on that truth more intently when I'm not familiar with the tune. Your picketing against this kind of practice is you waving the banner of your preference, not upholding some vital aspect of Christian doctrine. I agree that the inclusion and celebration of hymns of old is important because of the repeated admonitions to "remember" given in Scripture {e.g. Ex. 13:3; Lk. 22:19}. Remembering encourages humility and unity across generations of saints, but the crusade against new styles of music isn't helpful.

3. They repeat. 
Your lack of biblical support for this particular point causes me concern. Rather you poke fun at songs written in child-like faith by referring to them as "annoying", "ditties", and "vain repetitions." {I'm not sure what songs you have in mind here, so I may be way off base, so forgive me if I am.} I'll hastily admit that I have punched the radio power button after having been irked at the "song that never ends." But that usually happens because there are other distractions in the car {i.e. screaming infant} and my heart is not in a posture of worship at all. So yes, repeating can be annoying and unhelpful. BUT, repetition, for me, is extremely educational. It's how I learn. It's also used for emphasis in Scripture. God repeats Himself, a lot. He gives the command to "not fear" over 300 times, and the Psalms are highly repetitive {Psalm 136 is a prime example}! If you spent time around me at all, you'd find that I repeat the gospel to myself in bite size chunks all day long. "I've been made new" is constantly on my mind. So I both agree that repetition can be extremely annoying, but would also add that it isn't wrong or always unhelpful. {And from what you've written it seems you agree with me to some point, but I know of some who have taken this point to mean that repetition is bad, so that's why I'm addressing it.} I'm not sure if you were serious with your reference to "vain repetitions" but I thought I'd just say it didn't seem to be in the right context. Matthew 6:7 is referring to empty phrases thrown up out of a heart of duty, pride, or ritual - which I have been often guilty of doing while singing . . . "Immortal Invisible", "Jesus Loves Me", "In Christ Alone", and others. The repetition isn't wrong, the heart is. I'm not proposing that repetition be added to the criteria for biblical song writing, but I am saying that examples of repetition are found in Scripture and can be helpful for emphasis and education.

Overall, I agree with you that there is a problem. Your address of the problem however doesn't seem to be given in love and the lack of biblical support backing up what "bothers" you is concerning.

Let me end by saying, I appreciate the fact that you are identifying a problem. And I appreciate even more the fact that you are proposing follow up and critical thinking to address the problem. My only plea would be that you start with the Bible instead of preferences and build from there, and that the solutions and confrontation of those involved be done in love and humility.

P.S. The name of your blog is awesome.

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