And the three men I admire most:
The father, son, and the holy ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died.
Don McLean, American Pie
Am I the
only one who's noticed?
I visit a city from time to time where
there’s a great Christian Bookstore. I say “great” because
holding court behind the music counter is a veritable modern-day
Revolutionary. He’s a young man with
vision who senses the shifting of wineskins. Though he’s ordained by
an evangelical church, his heart is with the
Emerging Church. When I’m in his city, I always ask, “what’s new and
good?” The last two times I asked, the
answer was not encouraging.
The other day I was looking for some
new music to download onto my brand new iPod, and over the course of
several days’ searching, what I discovered only underscored what my
bookstore friend told me: “There’s really not much
out there right now.”
noticed? Or am I the only one?
Christian artists currently seem to be left to producing
“The Best Of” or “Best Loved Favorites” in order both to
provide the Body of Christ with something “new” to
consider and to keep an income stream flowing for themselves.
say it, but new arrangements of old compositions is not "New" music.
Contemporary Christian worship music
just isn’t “contemporary.” The current state of the “current” is a
far cry from the days when our hearts were pierced by the sounds
of the “Best of Heaven” and the “stream” was the river of
In the 1990’s, there was a sudden, rushing flow of inspired,
brilliant, heart-burning music; a sound like we’d never heard
It seemed in those days that every time we experienced a new worship
CD and new corporate worship,
the lyrics, the sound, the flow touched us right where our hearts
were. The music of the new century is – well, not new. And the
difference between the two is palpable. In the ‘90’s, there was
movement, there was wind and fire. There was inspiration, a
realization that God was among us. In the first years of the 21st century, there is a certain “deadness,”
a “staleness,” a “lifelessness” compared with the decade
Yet if I hear the worship leaders and
the songwriters correctly, they are at a stalemate, not in their
spiritual lives, but in their hearing a distinct “sound” from
heaven. Blame them if you like, but I don’t believe our
worship leaders are at fault in this period of silence.
I think the
lack of contemporary, creative, heart-piercing music is suggestive
of a larger drama playing out before the
eyes of the church world-wide.
What I sense is that the hand of God
has been extended – not in blessing, but rather “staying,” silencing the church and her ability to create a clear stream of
worship. It is as though heaven were saying, “Stop!” “Hold it!”
I think that God in His mercy, grace and goodness is refusing to
allow the train to just charge down the
track without direction, purpose and pace.
though God’s finger has touched the “pause” button on the iPod
of His church.
I talk with lots of Christian people, from all kinds of positions in
the Body and from different nations, denominations, persuasions and
distinctions. I’m with the pastor of an Institutional church one day
and with a band of “out-of-churchers” the next. Interestingly, I
hear much the same kinds of things from those on all sides of the
spiritual-religio bandwidth. They all say similar things: What once
worked isn’t working any longer. Sunday morning church is stale;
worship is musty and bland; sermons are harder to compose, harder
still to preach and harder yet to find lodging in hearers hearts. Or
“We left the church structure, but what we’ve found isn’t
When a physician examines a patient
complaining that “something doesn’t feel right,” a series of tests
might be ordered the results of which will be measured against a
known “baseline” of “normative” indications and a diagnosis will be
made, eventuating in a prescription for recovery.
When the “something doesn’t feel right” amounts to “God’s not
speaking, moving, touching like He was,” the resulting diagnosis may
lead to a painful prescription – “Don’t move: Listen!”
heaven speaks, the Body responds. When heaven is silent, we
should be still.
I believe there is coming a new
“sound” from heaven – not simply a new variation on the old; not a
new “style” or beat or rhythm, but an entirely new “sound.” Some
might call it an “unction” or an “anointing.” One thing is
for certain – when heaven releases the awaited “sound,” the “ear”
will hear it.
Until then, this may be a good opportunity for some sorting of our
own “stuff,” tossing out “excess luggage,” you know – those
seemingly “little” things like wrong attitudes, and wrong actions,
bitterness’s, resentments, petty, childish behavior and holding on
to the precious principles of spiritual life. God will move and
speak and guide in the not-too-distant future. I want to be
positioned for His use, ready to move at His
command, listening for “The Sound” to come from heaven.
In His Grace,