When the “Beatles” invaded from Britain, and the heartland of America was shaken by the gyrations of Elvis, who would have thought that the tectonic plates upon which the American culture rested would so violently shake that Bible-believing churches would be so easily removed from their fundamental foundations? Who but the Old Deceiver would have ever thought that within fifty years a growing number of fundamental brethren would adopt modern-day experiments in worship borrowed from a worldly culture?
The invasion has not subsided. On a consistent basis, we hear of churches churning internally due to the arguments of “conservative vs. contemporary.” Indeed, the fight of our lifetime is not a denominational one! Increasingly, the question the unchurched ask is, “What style of worship do you use? Are you conservative or contemporary?”
The battle has a lot of players: pastors, evangelists, Bible colleges, music directors, parents, and, yes, children. We know about the “greatest” among us (Matthew 18:1-3) and where they stand. We should mark well where our institutions of training stand or lean. Oh, how we ought to equip the music director and the parent in this assault from the enemy! However, for a moment could we consider the children? What does our music mean for the spiritual life of our children?
Beloved, we know what the culture wants to do with our Christ. America has been weighed in the balances regarding crimes against the Almighty and has been found wanting! We have legislated sensual freedom and called it “abortion.” We have expelled God from school and canonized the words “separation of church and state.” We now call Bible-believers intolerant because of the exclusivity of Christ’s gospel, yet preach that the army of be-headers and terrorists exists within a religion of peace! Within our lifetimes, we see the possibility of hate-crimes legislation passed nation-wide concerning pastors who preach the full counsel of God. Our culture will not cease until Christ is not only divorced from the state but from the country entirely!
And who bears the strain of the fight? Who bears the brunt of the storm? Whose future is paved with uncertainty? The children! The children! The children!
In Matthew chapter number two, the high-and-mighty Herod quaked in his boots! Great as he was, he shivered in fear at the prospect of a baby “Born King of the Jews.” After the wise men were sent to investigate Christ’s coming and returned home another way, Herod declared that all children two years old and younger in Bethlehem and surrounding coasts should be killed. Matthew’s gospel says, “In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not!”
Herod’s attempt to stamp out Christ was a burden borne on the tiny shoulders of Bethlehem’s babies! Mothers had sucklings ripped from their bosoms! The strong arms of Daddy had not the strength to hold at bay the forces of evil that day, and Rachel wept! She wept because He who would come to His own would be rejected by the same. The Emperor quaked and soon the crowd cried, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
Why have we accepted a culture that has rejected Christ?
Pray tell me, then, why we would allow a culture bent on our Christ’s destruction to teach us how to worship Jesus Christ? Why should we borrow from the whims and weapons of this world to win the world to a cheap imitation of itself, and in doing so, destroy precious things in our children’s lives?
As songbooks and choirs disappear from many of our churches, please consider the following consequences borne on our children’s shoulders.
They never really get to enjoy childhood
Our children are growing up too fast! Before you paint me an over-protective father of four, consider the culture in which our children live. The sights and sounds of this culture are not oriented to protect their hearts, minds and appetites. Video games pump the music of the rapper and the disc jockey. Their adrenaline becomes intoxicated with sounds developed by and produced for older ears. Their time in the public school (if applicable), grocery store and shopping mall are enough to wax off any veneer of innocence they might have.
Then, they come to church (again, if applicable). What they ought to find there is a counter-culture. Here, they ought to find a safe place. The sights and the sounds, if protected, create the conviction that church ought to be different! While exciting, fun, and often loud, there is a wholesome and historic element in it! We sing choruses and hymns with them that allow them to speak as a child, understand as a child and think as a child (I Cor. 13:11). We all understand that they cannot live on this diet forever. We are moving them to the banquet table of meat! However, a child’s life and influences ought to be protected from the culture!
Several years ago, my wife and I taught a children’s choir in a homeschool group in our city. What truly broke my heart was the influence culturally-relevant music had on this particular group of 8-11 year olds (most of which were girls). The bodily movements they already deem as appropriate had produced a lack of blush in them. This was indeed the by-product of worldly music at home and worldly worship at church. Rather than being protected, the adults in charge of their spiritual watch-care wanted to act like children, and, in turn, made the children act like adults. Rachel is still crying for her children!
They can only speak the language of the culture
In his book, “Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns,” author Gordon T. David said, “My own generation and my children’s generation are- to use the Greek term [idiotes]- musical idiots. We think we are choosing to listen to pop music, when in fact we are not choosing, any more than a Kentucky coal miner flatters himself that he ‘chooses ‘English. He does not compare and prefer English to (for example) French; English is all he knows.”
Many children only speak the language of the culture. When served a heaping spoonful of sacred music, one might say, “This is boring! This is awful!” Yet, such a declaration suggests that no one ever taught them the language of sacred music! Adults are often surprised when children use the full vocabulary of the culture’s native-tongue, but we ought not to be!
Vance Havner said, “We spent so much time seeking to be relevant that we forgot to be reverent.” Beloved, if we do not run to the front lines of this war on music, our hymnal faces the possibility of extinction within a generation or two.
Psalm 78:4-6 says, “We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:”
Just as God expected the children of Israel to speak the language of the Red Sea, and manna and Canaan land, so our Lord has entrusted us to teach our children the sacred dialect of the redeemed. May our children understand that they are not part of a johnny-come-lately experiment in worship. Rather, they come from a long line of biblical men and women who knew and loved God and worshipped in spirit and in truth.
The culture is knocking on your church’s door today. In all thy doing, protect the children!