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Comments

Billy Edwards

Chris,
I do appreciate you live blogging this event. I've learned things that I needed.
As to your "worship experience", whether or not it was valid or from God, I wouldn't know. But a couple of thoughts came to mind: 1) Don't we have the capability to worship God in any situation - including "worship" you don't think is "worship"? and 2) aren't you being a bit self-focused here, which is what you are accusing those folks of?
Not trying to be ugly - really - just trying to understand where you are coming from.

Bror Erickson

Wow Chris,
Your diatribe brought back memories of my days at Irvine, am I ever glad to be done with those days. You want to go worship with other Christians, instead you find yourself praying that if God strikes the place down he will at least spare you.
Billy,
We may be able to pray in any situation. Not sure that we should worship in any situation. There are some forms of worship that one should just avoid joining in. We can not participate at the table of the Lord, and at the table of demons.
We may want to avoid worshiping in some situations for the sake of our weaker brothers, who are taken up by this nonsense. And for that reason I don't think Christ is being self-focused. He is abstaining, and crying foul, not for his sake, but for the sake of others, that they might see what has been done to them. At least that was my take. And I know Christ can fend for himself. I just had to comment. If nothing else to show support.

Chris Rosebrough

Billy,

Fair question.

The only reason I shared 'my experience' (which is truly only focusing on me and what "I" experienced) is because I was asked to write down my 'experiences' by Pastor Loveless.

My point in sharing 'my experience' is to highlight the very REAL fact that my subjective experience was the polar opposite of the vast majority of people here and the songs they selected, the type of music they employed and the things that were stated that exalted subjective feelings and experience above God's word and Biblical truth significantly contributed to my very negative experience.

If EXPERIENCE becomes the standard by which we judge worship then we've got a problem because my experience was awful.

I think it is time to re-examine this subjective concept of 'worship' against the objective word of God.

Ken Silva

"I think it is time to re-examine this subjective concept of 'worship' against the objective word of God."

Huh?! Dude, where is that in "The Survey" of subjective man-centered "feelings-oriented" Christ-following?

You're bumming me out here Rosebrough.

Rick

Chris,
I just happened on your website the last few days as many have endorsed your live blogging of Reveal. I have been appreciative that you are detailing many of the Reveal facts. I have also laughed out loud at some of your comments and share many of your thoughts, especially on worship; however I could not help finding myself a little taken back from your post this morning. While I agree there needs to be a hard look at this whole idea of personal gratification in worship and many of the things employed by churches and pastors, but, I feel as though you were a little harsh. I am not sure that everyone is where you are and I think a more humble approach might allow others to peer into your thoughts and examine what they are doing and make some changes. However, in my experience when someone goes on the offensive with such an edgy tone most people just get defensive and your whole point is lost because they are "offended". I realize that this is not a seeker sensitive blog...LOL and you are probably right for telling me to keep my opinions to myself, this is your blog. I just wanted to share my thoughts. Thanks for your account of Reveal and I look forward to reading more from you.

akira Kurosawa

Chris, Chris, Chris. Calm down. Just because this worship experience doesn't meet your needs for worship, doesn't mean it is not pleasing to the Lord or that it is wrong. I personally agree 100% with you about 7/11 songs, BUT for some people they are the way they worship and I respect their practices, even though I would not attend their church.

Some people grow closer to God by experiencing Christ, some people grow by listening to a stirring sermon, BUT both methods are valid ways of approaching worship. Societally, we are growing away from being auditory learners (learning by hearing) and towards being tactile/kinesthetic learners (learning by doing). If we really want to reach Christians in worship, some things may need to change a bit.

And before anyone starts screaming heretic, yes, it is the Holy Spirit that reaches out to us, but the worship service can actually put us in the frame of mind to understand Him.

And again, before the cries of heresy start, I am not advocating anything goes, just that different doesn't necessarily mean wrong.

I would be more concerned if the opening worship service was not Christ-centered or Biblically based. Which your blog mentioned nothing about, so it may or may not have been...

Steve Phillips

I, too am a refugee from 'purpose-driven and sinner-sensitive' church background. In fact, I was on staff for three years until I resigned as I discerned biblically that 'them boys ain't right', (apologies to Hank Hill). I appreciate your analysis and feedback and have had the same reaction in 'worship' services. My wife and I recently attended a Nazarene church as we are looking for a church and I was sickened, literally grieved, by the music. Between the soulish, unscriptural lyrics and the young man on guitar jumping up like Pete Townsend of the Who, I couldn't wait to leave and resolved to keep looking. Hank Hill had a great line about CCM in an episode: "You're not making Christianity better, you're making rock and roll worse!" By the way, what is '7/11' music? Is it like the compilation CD's of regrettable artists that are for sale at convenience stores located near the beef jerky, or is it the same seven words repeated eleven times? Just wondering...Blessings in the Lord Jesus Christ

Matt Wilkerson

It seems a bit strange to me that you would be so hyper-critical of worship simply because it doesn't appeal to you. It obviously works for a great number of people. Millions in fact. If you feel more connected to God worshiping with 18th century hymns, go for it! There are plenty of churches that agree with your preferences. God inhabits the praise of his people - no matter what the time signature or instrument.

Chris Rosebrough

Akira,

Please explain to me the Biblical steps for manufacturing an experience with God.

For the sake of this discussion I'll concede the point that the style of music doesn't determine whether or not the song is "Christian".

With that in mind, please show me from the Bible how the church can create / manufacture an experience with Almighty God, the creator of the heavens and the Earth.

What would make the One True God and King of the Universe to show up to your church so that people can experience Him.

While you're at it. Please define the word 'Experience'. What does that even mean?

Chris Rosebrough

Matt,

I'm not critical of it because it didn't appeal to me. I'm critical of it because there was nothing in the songs that I could point to that made them distinctly Christian. Many of the songs would not be found guilty of being "Christian" in a court of law. If the songs were brought up on charges of being "Christian" songs there wouldn't be enough evidence to convict them.

In fact, most of the songs sung during today's 'worship experience' could have also been sung by Mormons, JW's, Jews, Muslims, New Agers, Oprah, Eckhardt Tolle or even Hindu's and that is not over-stating the facts.

Phil Miller
What would make the One True God and King of the Universe to show up to your church so that people can experience Him.

Probably the same thing that made Him come down to earth in the first place - His unfathomable love for His beloved. Just because you don't like the songs doesn't mean God can't move through them. Talk about the height of arrogance.

Chris Rosebrough

Steve,

7/11 Praise Song = a song with 7 words repeated 11 times.

chris

After I was saved, I landed in a Brethren assembly where we come together each week to break bread and worship. It is a farily solemn quiet time - but not without much joy. As a woman, I worship in silence, allowing the men so exercised to lead us in praise - thru a Scripture passage or prayer. We sing our praises together. All is focused on the Lord and what He has accomplished for us - a time of remberence and a time to bring our weekly basket of fruits to His feet and thank him. Some weeks it is a struggle, both personally and corporately, but we all leave that one hour so aware of the great gift God has given to us thru His Son. This is a time for any believer to participate -the following time, the family Bible hour - a time of teaching/preaching is open to all - both saved and unsaved. It appears we have lost the meaning of worship and why we come together - not to appease the flesh, not what I can get out of it - but to give back, as limited as that may be, to One who has saved us.

Chris Rosebrough

Phil,

This is not arrogance this is Biblical discernment.

Seriously, there wasn't enough Biblical truth to fill a gnats navel in the me-centered spiritual songs sung here at Willow this morning.

What is supremely arrogant is someone thinking they can manufacture an "experience" with the Almighty God when it isn't even clear that the One True God of the Bible is the one being invoked in the songs they are singing. In fact, when you do just a little grammar work on these songs it is clear that they aren't even singing about God at all, they are singing about ME.

Keith

Matt said: "[worship at Reveal]...obviously works for a great number of people." Obama obviously works for a great number of people, but I don't think that's a good enough reason (logic) to endorse him or his policies.

Someone was once quoted: "Just because you have a majority, sometimes just means you have a lot of idiots gathered in the same place."

m e brooks

YHWH brought out Lot before striking down Sodom and Gommorah. He pulled the believers out of Jerusalem before the walls fell in 70AD. He will bring out those who are within their midst just the same. They will hear Him call out to them from outside, "come out of her before you partake of her judgments". God is Good.

ProdigalKnot

You ask where this emotionally manipulative style of worship come from? How about the so-called "second awakening" with the likes of Charles Finney? Although his "style" was more preaching than worship, the whole idea of manipulating people into a frenzy or getting them emotionally charged began as far back as George Whitefield and the Wesley brothers. Now, before someone hollers at me, I must add that I believe sometimes the Holy Spirit works in ways that excite emotions, but that is not evidence of faith or truth by itself.

This bemoaning of 7-11 rock and roll worship makes me very happy to belong to an A Capella centered church. When worship gives you a headache or makes your ears ring...it's indicative of harm being done to your body; at the very least! It cannot please God when it is manipulative, performance oriented, and raucous for the sake of "motivating" a response that isn't heartfelt.

I am continually reminded of the scripture "Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden." Isaiah 29:13-14 ESV

Ken Silva

"It obviously works for a great number of people. Millions in fact."

Argumentum ad populum. 1) The same thing could be said for Mormons or Muslims.

And 2) when in the history of the Church has "a great number of people" ever been the ones truly walking with Jesus?

akira Kurosawa

Okay, now Chris, I see your beef with the songs, they aren't Christ centered, and there we can agree, that is a real problem. However, that is not what you complained about in your blog. You also did not mention if the service was ME centered or Christ centered, but from your reply, I would say it was, in your opinion, ME centered, and again I would say that is a problem.

I would not presume to manufacture a worship experience, but let me give you some insight into what an experience would be...

Who is a better worshipper?

someone who sings a worship hymn about Christ.
someone who prays to Christ.
someone who reads their Bible.
someone who recites a Psalm before a congregation.
someone who paints a picture glorifying Jesus sacrifice for them.
someone who preaches a Christ centered, Bible based sermon to a congregation.
someone who preaches a Christ centered, Bible based sermon to a church empty of people.

Assume all of these take place in a worship service context.

What is experiencing God? It's about understanding that God loves you no matter who you are or what you did. It's about understanding that Christ came down to earth, died on the cross, rose again and took away your sins. It's about understanding...

And some people come to understand something by hearing.
Others need something a little different.

Billy Edwards

I know what you mean about those 7-11 songs. Take that nut Handel, for example. "Hallelujah" is said how many times in that one song he wrote? 30? And then the phrase "He shall reign forever and ever' - that must have been 20 times! Wow, that guy must have invented 7-11.
No, wait! It was somebody else. Yeah, I recall...it was those 4 living creatures in Revelation - all they do day and night is 7-11 songs. Yeah, that stuff has to go.

Miriam J. Nard

I was raised in a conservative Baptist church where the weekly "invitation" was nothing more than an exploitation of the emotion guilt, and this after a "fire and brimstone" sermon the sole purpose of which was to arouse people's emotions to the point that they mindlessly walked the aisle with no real intellectual understanding of what they were doing.

I am often amused by people such as yourself who decry modern worship music as an exploitation of fleshly emotions. There is some irony there.

Why shouldn't we worship God with our emotions? Our emotions are chemical reactions within our physical bodies, and as such, are part of our body. I'm pretty sure we are to worship God with our physical bodies in addition to our spiritual selves.....

Music is one of God's good gifts...as long as it doesn't become idolatrous, why shouldn't we enjoy praising Him? I am reminded of King David who was so "emotional" about the return of the ark of the covenant that he danced in the streets inappropriately clothed....remember who was rebuked in that instance?

I am a fully-devoted follower of Christ, and a long-time Willow Creek attender.

tigger

Naidab and Abihu had a "worship experience." God, however, was not impressed. God didn't think a whole lot of Cain's worship, either.

If God is the One who is being worshiped, don't you think we ought to at least consider what He has to say about the subject? It's not about the style of songs sung, or how enrapt our "worship experience" makes us feel. Our starting point must be Scripture, and we must ask:

1. What does God have to say about worship?

2. What directives does God give us about what constitutes "proper worship"?

Your answers to these two simple questions reveal a lot about your theology (and lest anyone get hung up on big words, "theology" in a nutshell means "what you believe about God").

Miriam J. Nard

I was raised in a conservative Baptist church where the weekly "invitation" was nothing more than an exploitation of the emotion guilt, and this after a "fire and brimstone" sermon the sole purpose of which was to arouse people's emotions to the point that they mindlessly walked the aisle with no real intellectual understanding of what they were doing.

I am often amused by people such as yourself who decry modern worship music as an exploitation of fleshly emotions. There is some irony there.

Why shouldn't we worship God with our emotions? Our emotions are chemical reactions within our physical bodies, and as such, are part of our body. I'm pretty sure we are to worship God with our physical bodies in addition to our spiritual selves.....

Music is one of God's good gifts...as long as it doesn't become idolatrous, why shouldn't we enjoy praising Him? I am reminded of King David who was so "emotional" about the return of the ark of the covenant that he danced in the streets inappropriately clothed....remember who was rebuked in that instance?

I am a fully-devoted follower of Christ, and a long-time Willow Creek attender.

Terry

Great post, Chris. The volume, the music and the mood created all point towards an emotional experience that's not caused by truth but by manipulation. I agree with you completely, and I was once an advocate for this type of thing.

Bror Erickson

What do people mean by it works in referring to worship?
I am going to assume here that it means it makes them feel good, gives them an emotional high. Are these people serious? Obviously the orgiastic feasts in the high places worked in the same way for many people in the Old Testament. But perhaps there should be another standard by which we judge the efficacy of a worship service. Like was the Gospel, the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ, proclaimed or not? Were the people forgiven of their sin? Was the Gospel preached purely? Was law and gospel properly divided? Did people hear about Jesus and him Crucified?
and Billy, are you seriously comparing Handel's "Messiah" to songs as vacuous as "Lord I Lift your name on High"? You have to be kidding.

Ted Tschopp

Akira,

To address the points you made from my perspective:

Christian worship is centered on the word and sacrament. So a God centered worship service has a litergy that what God wants me to do, and how I have fallen short, and how he has rescued me(confession and absolution). It has songs which focus on what God has done for me (the operative verbs are applied to God and not to my response to God). It has sermon that would look something like how Jesus would have presented those verses on the road to Emmaus. It would have a celebration of the Lords Supper.

Billy Edwards

Bror,
I'm not comparing one song with another. What I'm saying is that, biblically speaking, when one criticizes a song because it repeats words (the 7-11 gripe), that person doesn't have a biblical or historical leg to stand on. Criticize the theology if it's bad; admit that you don't like the music if you don't, but don't criticize repitition. It's both biblical and historical.

And BTW, emotionalism is not bad. It is just not to be sought after.

Ted Tschopp

Phil,

You mention something right here, and I'm curious:

Probably the same thing that made Him come down to earth in the first place - His unfathomable love for His beloved. Just because you don't like the songs doesn't mean God can't move through them. Talk about the height of arrogance.

1. Who is God's beloved?
2. Are there any methods and means mentioned in the Bible that God has specifically promied to use when He moves?

Ted Tschopp

Billy,

And BTW, emotionalism is not bad.

Interestingly enough historically when emotionalism had the title of Ethusiasm as a movement it was condered to be a heresy.

akira Kurosawa

Ted, I would say that your worship sounds like it is absolutely spot on...

For some people...like Lutherans...but maybe would be very boring in SOME aspects to others who would get nothing out of it.

And for clarification I am NOT referring to the word and sacraments. Just the style.

Billy Edwards

Ted,
So in Revelation when the elders and creatures cry out, fall down, etc., that's not a good thing? And when David danced, that's not OK? How can worship not connect with the heart? And why can't people prone to emotion express that to God in worship?

Andrew

This whole emphasis - by both Willow and many of the above commenters - on "Experience" is a complete red herring. It doesn't even matter how one defines the word; what does "experience" have to do with worship??? Who says that worship must center on experience at all? Doesn't the Bible and early church history reveal that worship has nothing whatever to do with man's experience, but instead with honoring God? Thus we should properly hear sung the words: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come" (Rev. 4:8), rather than "When the music fades, And all is stripped away, And I simply come, Longing just to bring, Something that's of worth, That will bless your heart." If we're really talking about the height of arrogance here, I submit it can be more easily found in the misguided belief in MY ability to bring "something that's of worth" that could even remotely bless the Almighty God.
____

Kurosawa: "For some people...like Lutherans...but maybe would be very boring in SOME aspects to others who would get nothing out of it."

Really??? Is that the criterion? Whether it is BORING to some people? That's exactly why I asked what "experience" has to do with worship - who ever said that the purpose of worship was what I "get out of it"?

Chris Rosebrough

Akira,

We have some common ground.

We both agree that God has not sanctioned a particular style of worship.

I would also freely admit that both hymn singing churches and praise band churches are guilty of using emotional manipulation in their services.

My beef with what I experienced today is that it was not Christ honoring, it was barely identifiable as "Christian" based upon the content of the songs, the focus was on me instead of Christ and even worse this was held up by Willow Creek as a model example of how to craft a 'worship experience'.

I come back to my question. What is a 'worship experience'? How is this supported from the Bible? How does someone know if they are experiencing the One True God during these 'worship experiences' instead of a demonic spirit, self-deception or just low blood sugar.

The model "worship experience" that Willow held up today was high on the subjective and very thin on the objective. It was me-centered and therapeutic and even worse there were claims of God speaking directly to people's hearts. But because the objective truths of Christianity, Christ and the One True God were almost completely missing, how could I know which 'god' was supposedly speaking to the hearts of the people who claimed that direct revelation for themselves?

Once again I was put into a situation where I could not participate in the 'worship' because there was no way to know which 'god' people were actually worshiping. It became a matter of conscience and the experience of the whole thing was just down-right awful.

Doug

(I think it is time to re-examine this subjective concept of 'worship' against the objective word of God."

Huh?! Dude, where is that in "The Survey" of subjective man-centered "feelings-oriented" Christ-following?

You're bumming me out here Rosebrough.)

This kind of sarcasam and mocking hurts(not in an edifying way). It is just worldly mocking. Sometimes there is alot more then just being right.

Mr. Seeker-Sensitive

Music has always been weak at Willow Creek, usually a few years behind what's currently hot. Not that THAT is the goal of worship music, but it's the bar Willow seems to have set for itself and has repeatedly failed. That's why worship there, in spite of a few bright spots every now and then, has the flavor of artificial sweetener.

The technological overkill only amplifies the hollowness. Today's artists like Coldplay or even John Mayer sound just as good or even better when they perform "unplugged." That's the heart of worship that's too often missing in the music at Willow.

There's a reason why Hybels genuflects before Bono backstage at a U2 concert that he gushingly describes in a recent book: he wishes he could see the same heart and passion of U2 fans in the seats at Willow Creek.

Sad thing is that Hybels seems to be taking the wrong lessons from U2 concerts back to Willow Creek.

heidi

Akira: Ted, I would say that your worship sounds like it is absolutely spot on...
For some people...like Lutherans...but maybe would be very boring in SOME aspects to others who would get nothing out of it.
And for clarification I am NOT referring to the word and sacraments. Just the style.

The point you missed is that a worship service is purely word and sacrament... style and appealing to the people have nothing to do with it.

Miriam J. Nard

Just out of curiosity, what songs were sung?

jason

Get over the music choirboy.

J/K

What did you think this conference was going to be like?

akira Kurosawa

Yup Chris, I think we are basically in the same area. If worship is me centered and not Christ centered, then there is a problem, and a big one.

Okay now as for why is it important if worship is boring? If people are bored, they aren't listening, which means they aren't getting the word... so one of the basic components would be missing. Style and appeal are important in worship.

Okay, one final question... if God doesn't need anything from me, then what is worship about then?
It is about me. The sacraments are for me, God doesn't need them. The Word is for me, God doesn't need it. Or is that all there is to it? Is there a connection between God and myself in worship? A vertical communion as well as a horizontal communion with other Christians. Maybe where someone experiences God?

Dave

style and and appearance mean nothing. substance and content are everything. if churches are substituting style for the hard substance and content of the Word, they're "style" is falling on deaf ears.

John from Down Under

I think Chris is being unfairly accused in this blog. His 'real' problem is that he is too soft and accommodating to these recalcitrant bloggers.

LAST TIME I CHECKED: ‘Worship’ was to do with lifestyle and not just music and jingles (Rom 12:1)
LAST TIME I CHECKED: References of any sorts to ‘Music Ministry’ are absent from my New Testament (newsflash for some no doubt). If anyone found the verses where Christians are instructed to create elaborate music worship services, please holler. Either Jesus and the apostles forgot to tell us, didn’t think it was important, somehow figured we could still ‘survive’ without it, or simply didn’t care. It was obviously not a priority for the New Testament authors. The early church managed without instrumental music for a while until Constantine thought it was time to spice things up a little. So if ‘Music Ministry’ is not compulsory in the New Testament it should be discretionary and voluntary, like tithing (do I hear those Kalashnikov’s getting loaded?)

LAST TIME I CHECKED: All the music, sacrifices and other Old Testament rituals where external / physical / material symbolisms pointing to Christ. “Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also AN EARTHLY SANCTUARY” (Heb 9:1). However all of those were fulfilled in Christ “…he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is NOT MAN-MADE, that is to say, NOT A PART OF THIS CREATION” and “Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary THAT WAS ONLY A COPY OF THE TRUE ONE; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence ” (Heb 9:11, 24).

In the NT all those symbols and ordinances were internalized and spiritualized with the exception of water baptism and communion. Other than that, physical specifications are no longer important. “a time is coming when you will worship the Father NEITHER ON THIS MOUNTAIN NOR IN JERUSALEM…Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father IN SPIRIT and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must WORSHIP IN SPIRIT and in truth.” Also…..“the kingdom of God is WITHIN YOU” (Luke 17:21), “Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27) “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH” (Phil 3:3) etc. etc. Internal worship is God dependent, whereas external and material, is man manufactured and makes it hard to know where man stops and God begins or vice versa. Instrumental worship is fine but in high-octane praise and worship services how do you know if the goose bumps are a result of a ‘touch of the Holy Spirit’ or emotions stirred by the music? How do you test it?

When Peter healed the born-paraplegic at 3pm in a crowded public place, no music was playing in the background to ‘elevate his faith to a higher level’. He wasn’t ‘waiting on God’. It was done spontaneously, unrehearsed and unprepared in cold blood.

LAST TIME I CHECKED: When you use ‘Last Time I Checked’ on a blog you are guaranteed to get a smart response. So bring it on, I deserve it!

jen

Amen John!

John from Down Under

OK while most of you are asleep in the U.S of A (it's still daylight here in Australia) here's a small postscript for when you revisit the blog the next day. If you love detail and know your NT you should have found me wanting…Oil is the other physical symbol we use in NT church (James 5:14). As these are often off-the-cuff blog posts we’re bound to forget something. There is good reason why external / physical requirements are not incumbent in New Testament times. If musical arrangements were a ‘must’, then newly planted churches where no one knows how to play an instrument would be downgraded to second class worshipers. And if a church that doesn’t have the resources and people talents/skills to compete with ‘professional’ and high-end style worship services, where does that leave them with God? Yet the Lord made it equal for all to worship without feeling inadequate or deficient. We can all “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb 4:16)

NLF

To: John from Down Under

Brother you hit it spot on. It about time Christians reailsed that Jesus spoke about "true worshippers" - the one's who worhip not on the outside but on the inside knowing that they are the temples of the Holy Ghost. Thanks for your input, John.

Bruce

My sentiments exactly about such services and doings by pastors and such. Glad to know I'm not the only one. Check out my paper in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, March, 2008 on Self-love and Jonathan Edwards. It's about how we got to the place in which we confuse worship with navel-gazing. As long as psychotherapy has more authority than Scripture, that situation isn't likely to change. Ironically, psychotherapy has no authority even among serious scientific psychologists nowadays.

Bruce

Douglas

I was thinking there may be some points in this lot below that will help those who care for the truth. Has Bill Hybels and Willow Creek truly repented of all the false teachings and wrong ways of "doing" church for the last thirty years or so? Getting people to sign covenants is one of the most legalistic, binding burdens to lay upon peoples backs. They will always be bent over with guilt if they break even one of those covenants and break them they will. Whatever happened to letting ones yes be yes and no be no?

"What is at stake is authenticity...Sooner or later Christians tire of public meetings that are profoundly inauthentic, regardless of how well (or poorly) arranged, directed, performed. We long to meet, corporately, with the living and majestic God and to offer him the praise that is his due." - D.A. Carson

Willow Creek: Conversion Without Commitment
Laura M. Kaczorowski
Distinguished Majors Honors Thesis Paper
University of Virginia
Department of Sociology
May 11, 1997

Protestant No More: Willow Creek Infiltrated by a Mystic Quaker Movement Called Renovare
By Mary Fairchild - March 2003
"Many good Christian leaders have difficulty perceiving the spirit of compromise. I went back to Willow Creek earlier this year only to discover my plans to serve in the women's ministry as a Biblical "Titus 2 woman" serving the younger were, in actuality, going to be a "spiritual guide" for a New Age Movement. Mystic ways of praying (repeating and meditation) and relating to God were being taught along with frequent references to Quakers. Terms like "covenant", "covenant groups", and "lectio divina" where frequently used. They gave out free books in the mentor training class in January (Sacred Companions by David G. Benner, and Spiritual Mentoring by Keith Anderson & Randy Reese). One class included a clip from the movie The Matrix. The movie was recommended and had keen insight for us in some way. We were told to avail ourselves to the classics of Roman Catholic mystics, and do timelines on our lives.

Willow Creek is noted as the second largest "Protestant" church in North America and is upheld widely as a model for church growth. Bill Hybels is a popular speaker and has appeared, for example, at Moody's Founders Week Conference with men such as Billy Graham, E.V. Hill, Warren Wiersbe, Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll, , George Sweeting, Joseph Stowell, Tony Evens, and David Jeremiah." Continued in the above link.

"Much of today's worship is oriented, consciously or not, around the idea of entertainment. Pastors and elders fall under tremendous pressure to conduct services that are lively, practical, and relevant in order to keep the people in the pews interested in what is happening. The constant fear is that members will leave a boring style of worship for the church across town with better music, a bigger and younger congregation, and with better lighting and sound systems.

Sermons are becoming messages geared more to "felt" needs than to driving home the needs that the bible says fallen men and women (both redeemed and unredeemed) have. And the message itself is delivered by someone who tries to come across as a "regular guy," not God's servant who is a steward of the mysteries of God, who must handle the word of truth with care, and who has been set apart for this holy task.

Writing in the Christian Century, Edward Farley recently commented that contemporary worship creates a tone that is "casual, comfortable, chatty, busy, humorous, pleasant and at a time even cute." He goes on to suggest that "if the seraphim assumed this Sunday morning mood, they would be addressing God not only as 'holy, holy, holy', but as 'nice, nice, nice.'"

Some defenders of contemporary worship even go as far as to deny that there is any distinction between the purposes of worship and the purposes of entertainment. In a recent book tellingly titled Entertainment Evangelism, one megachurch pastor argues that effective worship is measured by the extent to which it is a good entertainment. This is because those "raised in an entertainment age find church to be insufficiently interesting or stimulating".

Another book puts it more cautiously when it asserts that worship should take place in "an informal service with a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, and contemporary styles in language and music". Following this logic, worship style becomes a matter of taste. We would agree, but only if the taste that He is referring to is God's taste. Irreverent worship is a violation of God's holy style. God desires reverent worship, worship that reflects the seriousness that is inherent in a religion that required the death of His only begotten Son in order to redeem a chosen people from the bonds of sin and misery, and to deliver them into the glorious blessedness of God's children." Quoted from With Reverence and Awe - Hart & Muether

Diana

Really interesting to hear what's going on at the conference. One thing I noticed in Chris's report was the number of times it was mentioned to hold people accountable and get them to sign covenants. Can you elaborate further on this Chris - re: "holidng people accountable" - has this moved on from a system of so-called voluntary accountability to something more authoritative?

kitty

Interesting. When I started reading your description of the first hour of that event I was reminded of my experience years ago visiting the charismatic church attended by my husband's mother. They did the same long, drawn-out music/singing/emotionalism/crying/"prophesying"/spirit-world-type stuff. They all got real zoned-out. I think that's what they all came for. It was like a rock concert.

Peter Hamm

Chris,

You must have been at a different event than i was. The REVEAL conference I went to had, I will admit, some theology from some pastors that I personally disagreed with, but featured great reminders and exhortation to lead a church where everything is soaked in God's Word, and pastors equip their people for works of service which have already been prepared for them. I heard about churches that make a difference in people's lives and in their communities.

imho, you are nitpicking and went there to find fault.

Chris Rosebrough

Peter,

We were at the same conference alright.

I went there to listen, learn and compare and critique what was taught by Willow against the Word of God.

Unlike you, I do not think it is a small thing that Reveal featured a pastor that is a self-proclaimed disciple of the prosperity heretic Fred Price. Also, unlike you I do not think the measure of Christianity is the 'difference it makes in people's lives'. Nor do I believe that much of the 'worship' at Willow was actual worship. The event reinforced in stark detail just how far off the rails the Christian church in America is.

There were some good things that I heard at the conference. The overall repentance for purposefully neglecting the feeding of God's Sheep, especially mature Christians was a clear highlight.

The emphasis on pushing for expository Bible teaching was also good.

That being said there were also some very serious problems and I plan to address them in greater detail in the days ahead here and on my radio program

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