Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? Part 5
by Berit Kjos, January 2004
"Saddleback is unapologetically a contemporary music church. We’ve often been referred to in the press as 'The flock that likes to rock.' We use the style of music the majority of people in our church listen to on the radio." Rick Warren, Selecting Worship Music.
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2
"The style of music you choose to use in your services will be one of the most critical (and controversial!) decisions you make in the life of your church," wrote Rick Warren in an article titled
Selecting Worship Music. "You must match your music to the kind of people God wants your church to reach.... The music you use 'positions' your church in your community. It defines who you are.... It will determine the kind of people you attract, the kind of people you keep, and the kind of people you lose." Emphasis added
Pastor Warren's choice in music flows with today's major currents of change -- in culture and business as well as in churches. Our world is becoming increasingly uniform even as our choices multiply. While we have countless options in food, books, religions and music, the vast networks of corporate management systems around the world follow the same marketing strategies. Their key to "measurable success" is monitoring and manipulating the "felt needs" of the masses -- a shrewd strategy that requires continual polls, surveys, assessments and digital data systems. Together, as parts of a holistic system, they not only expose the wants and vulnerabilities of "consumers" everywhere but also nurture and manipulate those "needs" and cravings.
And it works! That's why governments, schools, medical systems and large churches are all reinventing themselves in order to follow the established tracks of corporate America. They may call their particular version of this system Total Quality Management, Outcome Based Education or Purpose Driven Churches; it doesn't matter. All follow the same pragmatic blueprint, aim for "measurable results," call for teams, dialogue, facilitators, "lifelong learning," contracts and continual assessments of "progress" toward the planned outcome. All must conform or leave the system.
In Part 1, you saw
that Pastor Warren polled his congregation to discover the most popular contemporary music. He also learned to rely on the management consultants at CMS, a "full-service custom marketing and communications agency" that helps its "clients grow their businesses."  It explains that "...collecting, organizing and managing data is essential to understanding, evaluating and planning of any successful promotion."
So when Pastor Warren offered the music most people wanted, they flocked to the church.
Surveys and sophisticated tracking software produced customer satisfaction. But"measurable success" doesn't prove that God ordained or inspired this particular plan. In fact, God warns us not "to seek to please men" [Galatians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4]. Popularity in the world has never been a sign of God's approval.
More often -- throughout the Bible as well as history -- popularity proves the opposite. "If you were of the world, the world would love its own," said Jesus. "Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." John 15:19
When Pastor Warren tells us that "God loves all kinds of music" and that "God loves variety," do you wonder where he would he draw the line? Would that vital dividing line bend with our changing culture? Or with the growing tolerance for all kinds of spiritual and Scriptural variations? These are crucial questions, for music has become a driving force in the Church Growth Movement.
As Pastor Warren says,
"Music is an integral part of our lives. We eat with it, drive with it, shop with it, relax with it, and some non-Baptists even dance to it! The great American pastime is not baseball - it is music and sharing our opinions about it!"
"...when I read about biblical worship in the Psalms, I see that they used drums, clashing cymbals, loud trumpets, tambourines and stringed instruments. That sounds a lot like contemporary music to me!"
"Saddleback is unapologetically a contemporary music church. We’ve often been referred to in the press as 'The flock that likes to rock.' We use the style of music the majority of people in our church listen to on the radio."
These statements beg at least two responses. First, Pastor Warren wrote: "...in the Psalms, I see that they used drums...." None of the standard Bible translations mention drums, but they do mention timbrels which are sometimes translated tabrets or tambourines. Apparently, these were small, round wooden rings or frames covered with animal skin and usually carried by women or "maidens" in dance or "merriment." Some Bible commentaries describe them as small hand drums, "examples of which have been found in Egyptian and Mesopotamian excavations." Obviously, they were not like today's large, throbbing percussion instruments which the Bible neither forbids nor approves. Nor were they listed in Chronicles along with other instruments prescribed for temple worship.
ur Father Himself prepares the hearts of His chosen ones to respond to the saving truth of the gospel and the demonstration of His love. He doesn't need our clever business schemes.“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him," said Jesus. [John 6:44]
But can't God use contemporary music to draw us to Himself? Of course He can! He can use anything He chooses! Again and again, He brings blessings out of our human choices, be they wise or foolish or in between. But His wonderful grace and mercy never justify our disobedience. He repeatedly warns His people to guard against the seductive forces of the world system [Rom. 12:2, 1 John 2:15; Psalm 1:1-3], and "Christian" music now rests squarely in the hands of the world's corrupt entertainment establishment.
Two of the most popular Christian musicians are Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant. Both are under contract to Word Music Company, which is owned by Word Entertainment, the Christian Music division of Warner Music Group, a Time Warner company. This may explain why some of the popular pied pipers of the church cross over to the other side, drawing millions of fans with them. When that happens, the emotional highs that had been linked to God are transferred to the new themes that exclude God and exalt lust.
Steven Curtis Chapman may be the most famous artist with Sparrow Records, a part of the Sparrow Label Group owned by the British EMI Music Publishing, the world's largest secular music publisher. Having introduced America to the Beatles back in the sixties, it now owns labels such as Capitol, Angel, Blue Note, Priority and Virgin. Featuring approximately 1,500 artists, it markets every kind of popular music: rock, rap, jazz, Christian, country... According to Music Publishing,
"EMI [owns the] rights to more than one million musical compositions and has offices in 30 countries.... Composers and writers represented by EMI include David Bowie, Janet Jackson, Carole King, Queen, ... Savage Garden, Sting, ... Aerosmith....
"A&R, the art of identifying the next great writer, the next great song, is the single most important function EMI performs."
EMI's website features a page on Social Responsibility that tells us,
"At EMI we believe business should be both profitable and beneficial to society. ... We are committed to equal opportunity for all employees regardless of gender, ethnic or national origin, religion, disability, age, marital status or sexual orientation.... We support and uphold the principles contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights...."
If you read our article, "Trading US Rules for UN Rules," you will find that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is hostile -- not helpful -- to Christians and others who question the UN philosophy and its blueprint for global solidarity.
In April 2003, both EMI and Time-Warner executives participated in a conference dealing with topics such as "Things you need to know to get noticed" and "The spiritual future of Christian music." The goal of the first "roundtable," moderated by the Senior Director of A&R, Warner Brothers Records, Christian Division, was to "share what they are currently looking for in a signed artist today." Do you wonder if the panelists -- including the General Manager of Simple Records, a Senior Director at Sparrow Label Group, and the Director of Gospel A&R and Warner Brothers Records -- would allow lyrics that expressed some of the more "offensive" truths of the Bible? Would they even consider God's will for Christian music and worship?
Probably not. Their concern is marketing music in cultures around the world. It's up to us to know such as 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, which warns us, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? ... Come out from among them and be separate...."
In the article, "A New Song - Part 2" [Link to Paul Proctor's article], author and former musician Paul Proctor summarizes the meaning and purpose of Christian worship:
"As I understand it, worship is coming before the Lord as a holy and 'peculiar people', in obedience, humility, reverence, repentance and faith with an attitude of gratitude, to sing His praises, hear His Word, glorify His name and honor Him with all of our being for Who He is and what He has done.
"Contrary to popular trends, worship is NOT getting together with anybody and everybody to party in Jesus' name and feel good about ourselves with intoxicating music and psychotherapy."
Saddleback members may not call their brand of music intoxicating, but that's not the issue here. What does matter is the nature of the driving force in the church. It's easy to list a set of Biblical purposes that seem to indicate where the church is headed. But do good purposes or "ends" justify "means" or methods that might violate the standards God gave us in His Word?
The answer doesn't matter to those who embrace pragmatism -- the belief that truth is relative and that the ends do justify the means. It's sad to see that within much of the Church Growth Movement, the main standard for good or bad methods -- or for what "God is blessing" -- seems to be measurable success, not obedience to His actual Word. The foundational management question seems to be: "Does it work?" We should be asking: "What does the Bible (not preferred paraphrases) tell us?"
The answer to the first question is, yes, it does work. But few church members really understand general systems theory, the philosophy and worldview behind the controlling systems that steer this worldwide transformation. Many of its enthusiastic supporters don't realize how it squeezes the Holy Spirit out of the decision making process. But we can recognize its mind-changing process by its familiar labels (they should be red flags) such as assessments, databanks, facilitator, dialogue and planned or continual change. Lynn Stuter, a respected researcher and columnist with NewsWithViews, summarizes it well:
"Systems philosophy or general systems theory... says that we can create our future by building systems and leveraging those systems into balance with all other systems in a conceptually wholistic model, (also referred to as systemic change) using a system infrastructure that is analogous to all systems. Scientists refer to systems philosophy as a syllogism — how to bring about planned change systemically. Under systems philosophy, the system and leveraging of the system into balance with all other systems, is paramount above all else. That leveraging is achieved via analyzing DATA FEEDBACK attained from the subjects of the system established, be it an agency, a classroom, or an individual. This explains the privacy invasive databanks being built on all systems — health care, education, justice, military… [and churches]
"...you start out by developing your vision of the created future.... The vision is then defined in terms of exit outcomes. In the case of education reform, the exit outcomes are the state essential "academic" learning requirements (EALRs). [In the purpose-driven movement, it would be related to "purpose"]
"In the Schools for the 21st Century (the foundation of education reform in Washington state and the basis of American 2000) resource document, content is defined as excellence in terms of the change agenda; process as the product … the destination … what learning is about; and emotionality and affectivity as the means by which content and process will be achieved....
"The measure of that mastery is the assessment.... If a few children fail the assessment, they are remediated to bring them in line. The assessments also assess classroom teachers. The assessment provides DATA FEEDBACK to the system...."
It's comforting to assume that God loves all growth-producing methods and feel-good stimuli that we love. But it isn't true.
“'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'" Isaiah 55:8-9
Then He gives us a sobering glimpse of what He is pleased to see in His people: “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word." Isaiah 66:1-2
"For since the beginning of the world,
men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.
You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness,
who remembers You in Your ways." Isaiah 64:4-5
Part 6 - Forgetting the "fear of the God"
Part 7 - Building unity and community
Part 8 - Assessing your spiritual gifts
Part 9 - Dialoguing to consensus
Part 10 - Shaming the "solitary saint"
Part 11 - Redefining transformation
Selecting Worship Music by Rick Warren athttp://www.pastorport.com/ministrytoday.asp?mode=viewarchive&index=18. Since the Bible doesn't mention the kinds of percussion instruments most popular today, it neither affirms nor forbids it. But other Scriptures help us understand God's view of the use of a throbbing drumbeat. Aside from numerous Old Testament warnings against imitating the enticing rituals and practices of pagan and animist "neighbors" (who might have used the speed and volume of rhythms to induce trance possession), Romans 14:15 tells us: "Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love." Pastor Warren freely admits that the introduction of rock music has been offensive to many Christians in his church. To draw young people, he chose a popular vehicle that would agonize and chase many away. That choice, in itself, seems to violate God's law of love -- a principle Pastor Warren will emphasize repeatedly in the context of small groups and building the new sympathetic consensus community.
2. Dennis Costella, FOUNDATION Magazine, March-April 1998.
5. 1 Chron. 15:16-24; 16:4-6, 42; 25:1-6. page 978-979. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute, 1981), 978-979.
6. Word Music - about at http://wordmusic.com/about/
7. Nokia and EMI form strategic alliance to offer innovative range of music services
8. Music Publishing, http://www.emigroup.com/publishing/i-.html
9. Social Responsibility Policy at http://www.emigroup.com/enviro/srpolicy.pdf
10. INDUSTRY and ASSOCIATES April 5-10, 2003
11. A New Song - Part 2
12. Lynn Stuter, "Who Controls at the Local Level?" http://www.learn-usa.com/er018.htm