First up, i need to give you 2 warnings:
1) This is a long blog. But it’s long because what I’m dealing with is no light matter. I’m writing about matters of eternal hope, for thousands upon thousands of people in Australia.
2) I’m going to say some fairly brutal things about Hillsong Church towards the end. But I hope that, if you stick with me and read the whole blog, you’ll at least see where i’m coming from. You’re more than welcome to leave a comment if you’d like to respond.
If you can stomach those 2 warnings, read on…
I recently had the opportunity to visit 3 churches in Sydney and thought I’d share some thoughts. The first wasn’t really a church – TWIST (‘The Word In Song Together’) is an annual music ministry conference run by Emu music – but the main sessions ran very much like a church service, including singing, announcements, prayers, interviews, a sermon, and time to mingle together afterward. The second church I went to was Hillsong, the main service at Baulkam Hills. The third church was called Resolved, a new non-denominational church plant in Newtown with a view to reaching out to musicians and artists in the age bracket of 18-30. All three church experiences were very different.
The reason I want to compare these 3 churches is so that we can reflect together, as a church family, on how best to honour God with our own church services at SCPC. Are there other churches that honour God in ways that we aren’t? Are there things about our church service we’re doing well? Are there things we can change about our services to more honour God, spurred on by the example of other churches?
I’ll share about TWIST and Resolved first, and then come back to Hillsong at the end.
TWIST conference was a thoroughly encouraging day – it ran from 9am-6pm, including 2 main sessions and 2 optional seminars. Justin Moffat’s two talks on Colossians 3:1-17 were exceptional – I can only describe them as hearing the voice of God, loud and clear. His careful, faithful and entertaining exposition of the passage kept me rivetted in my seat and hanging off every word. I found myself confronted with the depths of what Jesus has done for me by dying on the cross, and compelled to live as if I’ve actually died and risen with him, to a new life clothed in the character of Jesus. The time singing together was good – there were at least 500 Christian musicians gathered to hear and respond to God’s word, and the band were talented professionals. But with much hesitation I have to say that, for 500 Christian musicians, the singing was actually disappointing. Despite excellent song-leading – especially by Lara Goudie – I noticed that I couldn’t really hear many people singing other than the guy standing next to me. I was close to the front so I turned around quite often, and most people wore expressions on their faces bordering on boredom and apathy. Some people seemed excited about singing praises to God and encouraging each other – but not most. It may have been just where I was standing; it may be that the songs coming out of Emu music, while biblically faithful, just aren’t musically cutting the mustard for most people (I confess i’m not a big fan myself); but for a key gathering of Bible-believing Christians to learn about serving God in music ministry, the corporate singing was slightly ordinary.
Sadly I’d have to say that, in comparison, we at SCPC are pretty similar. The ones who seem to cherish singing God’s word together in our church family seem to be remarkably few. If we mean to be overflowing with praise, and spurring one another on with our singing – as we should be! – we’re doing an ordinary job. But back to TWIST.
Mark Peterson – writer of songs like ‘Hallelujah to the King of Kings’ and ‘See Him Coming’ – gave a great seminar on how church leaders should be supporting their music team. I walked out of the seminar thanking God that not only do our church leaders at SCPC do everything that Mark encouraged them to do – they do a whole lot more (thanks Pete and Steve)! The highlight of TWIST for me was a seminar by Michael Jensen on church music in the 21st Century – about how the chuch should ALWAYS be adapting the new music styles of the time (Coldplay is the best current example), but that Christian expression should nuance the style so that while it’s still recognisably similar to the original style, the gospel-influence will create a unique ‘Christianised’ version of that style, which will be attractive to both the church and the non-believing world, for the glory of Jesus.
Resolved was possibly the most encouraging church experience I’ve ever had in Sydney. Having only started meeting together in March 2009 with a core group of 5 people, they meet in a small-ish local hall in the Neighborhood Centre (more often used for Alcoholics Anonymous) on the main street of Newtown. It was a very minimal set-up – just a bunch of chairs, a tiny sound-system, a screen, and about 30-40 people. Myself and the two people with me were very warmly greeted at the door, and continuously approached by people to be welcomed, and introduced to more warmly welcoming people who would do the same – very impressive! The first thing the service leader said after welcoming us was that, “If you only remember one thing about this church, we want you to know that we’re all about Jesus and His death on the cross in our place, so that we can be right with God. More than anything else, we’re all about Jesus, and we want you to know this Jesus. We’re going to hear God speak to us as we read the Bible, and if you don’t have a Bible, we want you to keep the one you were given at the door as our gift to you, so that you can come to know Jesus yourself.” The band was just 1 acoustic guitar and 1 singer, but – my goodness – I’ve seldom enjoyed congregational singing so much! From the first song it was evident that this small bunch of people knows what it means to sing together – that they’re praising and thanking God with overflowing hearts, that they cherish singing God’s word, and that they mean to spur one another on to follow the Jesus they’re singing about. Some hands were raised and some weren’t; some clapped and some didn’t; some moved around and some were still; but ALL were singing with a full voice and a visual expression that revealed the spiritual health of their small congregation. All of a sudden I was seeing what seemed to be missing from both TWIST and SCPC. I’m told that they have non-Christians amongst them every week, and I’d say that the singing alone – with words full of the good news about Jesus – would be an extraordinary witness. Some have walked in off the street to join them just from the sound of their voices – they’re LOUD! The songs were a mix of about half-hymns/half-contemporary, but what they all had in common was biblical faithfulness and deep richness. There were around 8 songs in total, including one item during the Lord’s supper – more than usual in a Bible-teaching church, and up to 3 at a time – but it worked extremely well. I found myself wishing that the singing at SCPC was more like the singing at Resolved – they really seemed to cherish Jesus and be delighted to boast about him with their voices.
The sermon went for about 40mins, but again, i was on the edge of my seat the whole time. One girl I spoke to afterward described the pastor’s (Hans Kristensen) preaching as “like an axe that cuts through your hardness with the gospel.” As he preached on the subject of ‘Money’ from Luke 12:22-34, he continually addressed both the believers and the non-believers amongst us with an absolutely uncompromising exposition of the gospel. Again, I found myself hearing the voice of God, and compelled to respond to the gospel by changing my life. I was confronted with the importance of storing up riches in heaven rather than wasting my money on temporal riches in this life, in a response to Jesus giving up everything to save me into the riches of relationship with him. Hans wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea – he’s younger than even I am, and unafraid of loudly getting in the face of those he’s preaching to. He even swore during his sermon – which didn’t bother me, or seemingly anyone else who was there. For the people they’re trying to reach out to, I think he’s doing a fantastic and greatly needed job at proclaiming the gospel to 18-30s. After church I was invited to dinner with about 10 others where I and those with me continued to be encouraged by this little community following and proclaiming Jesus in the big, stinky, pagan city of Sydney. Out of the 500ish-people gathering at TWIST and the 3,000ish-people gathering at Hillsong, this tiny church was by far the most encouraging experience out of the 3 churches. Since then I’ve repeatedly found myself thinking, ‘If only we at SCPC would cherish singing together that much! If only everyone didn’t look so bored out of their brain during the songs! If only we took to heart the words we’re singing together, and the opportunity we have to spur each other on! And if only the lost people around us couldn’t help but hear our song, and out of sheer curiosity come in to join us!’ If only…
And then there was Hillsong. I’ve been listening to and watching Hillsong’s CDs and DVDs for several years now, and downloading Brian Houston’s talks on iTunes. While there are a thousand things I could say about their music, and about Brian Houston’s talks, I’ll limit what I have to say in this blog to my experience of attending their church on a Sunday morning. I’ll add that I tried to make an effort to disregard everything I knew about Hillsong already, and tried to arrive at the service with an open attitude. I’ll divide what I have to say into good things (of which there were many) and bad things (of which there were few, but they’re big).
First of all the good things. They were excellent at welcoming. We (my mother came with me) were greeted at the door and welcomed by the service leader during the service. As we arrived there was a slogan across their enormous screens saying ‘Welcome Home’. After the service we had free Gloria Jeans coffee and choc-chip biscuits in their cozy welcoming lounge, and a couple of people engaged us in conversation, gave us welcoming packs, invited us to join a ‘Connect Group’, and asked if there was anything they could do to help us. Not bad hey? Then there was their excellence in reaching out to people. There were over 3,000 people there, and that was only one of their multiple services at multiple campuses in multiple countries happening that day. At one point during the sermon the preacher asked everyone who was born outside of Australia to raise their hands – I was astonished to see more than half of the 3,000 or so people raise their hands: Hillsong are doing a BRILLIANT job at connecting with immigrants and welcoming them into their community (though there was one people-group inconspicuously missing, just like in most Australian churches: Australian Aboriginals – Hillsong share our failure of reaching out to our own indigenous people). Then there was the production. I’ve been to literally hundreds of concerts, and I’ve NEVER heard sound quality so good. The clarity was astonishing. Likewise their visual show – the 3 enormous screens, the pre-filmed announcements, the camera-work throughout the whole service constantly being projected on the screens – all of it was top-notch, and worthy of our envy and aspiration! And – with some surprise – i find myself saying that the music was largely good. I didn’t notice any lyrics that were biblically unfaithful, and most of them did a good job at teaching us what God is like. There was one song in particular (called “It’s Your Love” by Darlene Zschesch, which you can hear and read the words of here) which was a beautiful, appropriate, and moving exposition of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, showing the great love of God in saving us. I really enjoyed singing it, and found myself rejoicing in Jesus’ death for me. And, as I expected, the band and singers were all-round brilliant musicians – they sounded fantastic.
In all of these good things, we can and should aspire to improve our own church services at SCPC. Obviously some of them will require money, but as we continue to grow as a church family (and as we reflect on what Hans preached on from Luke 12:22-34 about riches in heaven), we should be eager to use our money for the sake of the kingdom of God. But being as welcoming as Hillsong are (and as Resolved are) – and as eager to connect with the immigrants all around us – we don’t need more money to be doing that. We could do that straight away.
And now for the bad things. I’m sorry if what follows is upsetting for you, but I hope that you’ll see, in the context of what I’ve described about the other two churches, and reflecting on what God’s word tells us the Church should be, that there’s good reason for saying what I say. Feel free to disagree, and feel free to leave a comment, but please – do carefully weigh up what I say, and try not to dismiss it without reflection, prayer, and turning to your Bible. I write with a heavy heart, deeply wishing that what I’m about to describe wasn’t true.
Firstly – the song-leaders, the service leader, and the preacher all made one thing very clear: we had gathered that morning to experience the presence of God. When we entered the church building, we entered the house of God, to worship him in his presence. The unspoken flipside to this message is: God is not in the car-park. Once you leave the building, you leave the presence of God. The only way to re-enter the presence of God is to come back to another Hillsong service. This message was resoundingly proclaimed from the start of the service to the end (including the announcements about other Hillsong events where God would be experienced), and is profoundly unbiblical. I’m astonished that a church which emphasises the wonder of having God’s Spirit in our hearts could proclaim that it’s only in ‘the house of God’ – the church building – that you’re in God’s presence. Hand-in-hand with this teaching was that we come to church to ‘worship God’ – which seems to mean the same thing as ‘singing to God’. Although I know of one author/musician from Hillsong who does emphasise worshiping God as an ‘all-of-live’ activity (Darlene Zschech), during the service I attended it was repeatedly proclaimed that we were there to ‘worship God’, and no-one was called to worship God in any way other than singing to him during church. This meant that the singing entirely lacked the ‘horizontal dimension’ of singing together as God’s people. Although I did enjoy singing most of the songs, there was no sense of our ‘singing together’, and I rarely heard anyone else’s voice at all (except during a few acapella sections). The singing was very much promoted as a ‘me-and-God’ time, rather than a time to encourage each other in fellowship. I found the words and movements of the song leaders (or ‘worship leaders’ as they call themselves) distracted me from what I was singing more than helping me to sing it. We were repeatedly instructed to close our eyes and raise our hands so that we would feel the ‘touch of God’ in our ‘worship’. These teachings are a serious misconstruing of what God tells us about his continual presence with us by his Spirit, about what worship is, and about what our corporate gatherings and singing are for (Eg. Matt. 28:20; Rom 12:1-2; Col 3:15-17; Heb. 10:19-25). I hope you’ll agree that what Hillsong teaches about these things is unbiblical, and potentially damaging to anyone who hears and believes it.
Secondly – and this one’s worse – there was the preaching of the gospel. Or, rather, the LACK of the preaching of the one true gospel, and the consistent proclamation of multiple false gospels. Having just finished a 3-week series on false gospels at SCPC, i’m saddened to say that all 3 of the health, wealth, and stealth gospels were proclaimed during the 1 service I attended. The service leader prayed to God for those who were sick and those who were experiencing financial difficulty, proclaiming that ‘God PROMISES to grant our requests for healing and blessing’ – and after the prayer we gave God a big clap for doing so (I couldn’t bring myself to say ‘amen’, or to ‘give God a clap’). If you’re an eagle eye you may have already spotted the ‘stealth gospel’ in the song link above (‘It’s Your Love’): that Jesus’ scars are proof that ‘we were worth every nail’ – as if Jesus died for us because ‘we were WORTH it’, rather than because of the boundless mercy and grace of a loving God for UNworthy sinners (an unfortunate addition to an otherwise precious song). The service leader echoed the stealth gospel again and again. The sermon itself – which went over half an hour – didn’t mention Jesus once. His main message was that “you can’t let life get in the way of your dreams”, and he gave us advice on how we should live. The Bible wasn’t read during any other part of the service, and although the preacher did read out several verses, he didn’t teach anything from them. At all. My mother – who is a qualified Social Worker – described the sermon as ‘accurate pop psychology’ – but it certainly wasn’t biblical, or even Christian.
At one point the preacher posed the question: “What is our greatest need?”
Stop for a minute… “What is our greatest need?” What would you say? Remember at this point that there are over 3,000 people in front of you, from all around the world who are about to hear your answer. Surely it’s to trust in Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, so that we can be RIGHT WITH GOD! Surely?
The preachers answer: “You need to be RIGHT WITH YOURSELF. You need to FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS, and not let life get in the way of reaching your full potential.” He consistently gave us advice on how to live a successful life, and never once mentioned sin, Jesus, the cross, or eternal life. (I jested with my mother afterward that if I took this teaching seriously I’d have to quit my job, leave my church, and try to join either Metallica or Smashing Pumpkins as the lead guitarist.) Although he did call people to become Christians at the end of his talk, he never even told them how to do so. In case I was tempted to think ‘this isn’t the usual senior minister and he might be different’, the senior minister himself (Brian Houston – who is well-known for his book on the wealth gospel) video-conferenced in after the talk to apologise he wasn’t with us and tell us that, “I know about the word from God that you’ve had preached to you this morning, I’ve heard it was great, and I hope you believe every word and feel the touch of God on your life today – thanks for a good sermon Mike, and I hope you all come back to our service tonight!”
For me, that was quite enough. Over 48 hours later as I write this, I’m still absolutely furious. A church that fails to proclaim the one true gospel, and successfully proclaims multiple false gospels, has failed to be a Christian church (Gal. 1:6-9 – DO READ this one). If it wasn’t for that one precious song which proclaimed the death and resurrection of Jesus for our sins – such a small fragment of the service – the one true gospel would have been entirely absent. From the 1 Hillsong service I attended I can confidently say: God was not honoured. False gospels were repeatedly proclaimed, and Jesus hardly even got a mention. I really wish I was writing something different – but what I’m writing is the sincere, sad, and devastating truth, for thousands upon thousands of people in Australia and beyond.
Well if you’ve gotten this far you deserve a medal. It’s a tale of 3 churches – two of which proclaimed Jesus, and one which failed. Take what you will.
Thanks for your honest and thoughtful evaluations. I’d just like to respond to a few things you brought up.
I don’t think many Christians realise how discouraging their lack of wholehearted singing can be to everyone around them. Most Christians at church probably haven’t considered what an important role everyone’s singing plays in encouraging, teaching and admonishing each other. They may see it as just something for the music team. Most of us are also unaware of what we look like when we sing – bored or pained faces, hands in pockets etc.
As for the lack of gospel at Hillsong, I have to confess that I was at another Pentecostal church (Christian Outreach Centre) for 10 yrs without realising what the gospel really was. The gospel somehow got lost with false teachings on healing, prosperity and spiritual warfare. One of the reasons I value SCPC so much is the consistent teaching of the gospel each week. I pray that we may become more effective in reaching the sectors of society we don’t seem to reaching at the moment, including Aboriginals.
Great blog Yocky
Hillsong annoys me but in away its been helpful in that its a great example of what a church shouldn’t be that is a “shopping mall” for emotional needs or should that be physical greed.
The bigger SCPC gets the greater need is that we make sure we grow as one body in Jesus as community that has Christ at the core and nothing else and not into clicky groups that put new commers out on the fringe but to delight in ,share with them the grace and mercy God has lavished out on us.
Hey Pete can we have some blokie songs in church more often as I find some a wee bit high for my testostirone level, another idea how about getting a couple of the mens groups to sing a few items a year it may help get the fellas singing in church, I can’t sing well but I’d be up for it.
Thanks again for your words of warning and encouragement it brings great joy to my heart seeing you grow in Christ praise be to God .
Interesting reflections there Pete and you certainly have some balls for putting your opinions in print.
I’ve been visiting hillsong a few times on Sunday nights (its only a couple suburbs away from me). I’m keen to keep going every now and then to observe the why, what and how of Australia’s most influential church. What I am seeing so far is that it can be a varied beast. As you say there are some things they do very well. The songs are generally great (and really seem to keep improving). The songs are generally full of great gospel teaching and praise. I love the fact that every service there is a clear call to get right with God.
But as you say, the preaching generally disappoints. Sometimes there are excellent points made, other times scripture is poorly used. I haven’t yet heard a talk like the one you experienced (and so I feel that maybe your opinion is formed on too small a sample). But one thing I notice in the preaching is that there is not a strong gospel foundation behind all the preaching; which is a concern.
My guess is, it’s not because they don’t believe the gospel but because they feel it is assumed. Maybe they feel the songs communicate the gospel enough and it doesnt always need repeating. This is certainly not a mistake unique to hillsong. Unfortunately so many many churches assume the gospel rather than preach it clearly every week. It brings to mind a phrase I heard a few times at college. It goes something like this, “The first generation believes the gospel, the second assumes it and the third generation rejects it.” We need to do everything we can to avoid that mistake because the cross of Jesus is something we need to cling to every day.
It’s good to hear what Hansie’s up to. I really should visit his church one Sunday evening. He was always one of a kind, a passionate evangelist and a top bloke too.
Anyway brother, I’ll leave it there for now.
It was great to meet you on Sunday night! So encouraging to have you visit our little service (and to chat about welcoming etc heh). I would love to know how we can not only improve our welcoming now, but set up foundations for it so that if God ever uses to grow His Kingdom and therefore seeing us growing in big ways in this city that we could continue to make people feel welcomed as coming home.
I have been wanting for some time to visit hillsong, but your writing has just confirmed my fears about it! I’m sitting in a quiet room and literally gasped as I read what the preacher said our greatest need is!!!
I just don’t know if I could bodily sit in that room and hear that without exploding.!!
I am still at a loss about what we should do in jealousy for God and His Glory and Truth in the face of this..
Anyways, thanks again for coming and encouraging us! I’m sorry that I committed all the failures of welcoming that I identified in our convo :-p but I’m glad you had fun at dinner!
uhh sorry correction
-If God uses us to grow his Kingdom
not.. whatever i wrote there
I’m Peter’s mum and I went with him to Hillsong, as he mentioned. I can reiterate what he said about the service. The welcomers were lovely, genuine and warm. If I’d gone there alone, not knowing anyone and looking for some human contact, I’d feel great about being reached out to.
Ditto about the music. I actually didn’t know any of the songs, so that sort of fell a bit flat with me – but I could see everyone else was getting into it and really enjoying it. That’s not a bother for me. I’ve recently been to a few different churches in Canberra and Kempsey where I didn’t know the music. Didn’t matter; of course that’s going to happen in a different church. If I was aiming to continue there I’d learn the music and get into it alongside everyone else. But I did read the great words on the screen and eventually got to hum the choruses – so enjoyed that part.
I did like the way the service leader had also printed off what looked like hundreds of prayer requests and held them up while he committed these requests to God. If the people who sent those requests in were watching, they’d feel comforted and validated that they were part of the family Hillsong claims to be. However, claiming God would work to indeed fulfil all the prayer requests sat heavily with me. What if healing someone wasn’t God’s will for that person? How would they feel if they remained unwell? Or remained in financial difficulties? Unhhhh…. Or… was that just me?
My concern with the preaching echoes Peter’s. The preacher was a great speaker, dynamic and encouraging, no issue there. It was what he said – or didn’t say – that was disturbing. My biggest shock came early on when he pronounced he was going to announce what our *greatest need* was. I got all excited, thinking, Yes! It’s getting right with God! Great!
But no. It was, as Peter mentioned, *getting right with yourself*, and following your dreams because we all have potential.
Getting right with yourself is ego-centric, a message from Psychology 101 (yes, I did learn it there, even if it was ages ago – I can remember it clearly because it didn’t marry with what I’d learnt in the Bible). In a pagan world people consider they should – and do – put themselves first. How many times do we see evidence of that in people all around us, and (let’s face it) in ourselves at times? People are the middle of their own worlds; they need to look after themselves – Number 1 – first. Everyone and everything else is secondary. Society today is all about: ‘What about me?’ ‘What’s in it for me?’ ‘What can you do for me?’
Look at Matthew 22: 36-40, where Jesus answers a vital question about how we should live:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Now *that* is all about loving and putting God first, and then your neighbour. Nowhere in there is it putting you first, which is a worldly thought. You need to get yourself right with God, first, and then the rest will fall into place. It might take you a lifetime, but that’s all part of your walk with God. And yes, everyone has potential. Hopefully, it’s to shine for God.
So God might not fulfil your dreams. Peter didn’t get to play in Metallica and I’m not a world-famous author, something I’ve always dreamt about. Well, boo hoo.
But hopefully, we’re imperfectly working on our treasure in heaven rather than our earthly treasure. We’re trying to put God first rather than ourselves. And, speaking of myself, it’s a struggle every day, and I’m not particularly good at it yet. Which is why I need to continue to get right with God. Every day.
That was the most astonishing sermon opener, I have to say. It made me feel sad and disappointed that so many people seemed to agree. So please, folks, look to the Bible for your wisdom and to get to know God through His words, and through prayer. The rest should follow. And your potential to live for Christ should blossom.
I agree with what Wade has said. It’s really hard for us to figure out what model of church hillsong is working from when we only parachute in for the occasional Sunday service. I’ve visited hillsong a few times myself, and from these visits I’ve been left wondering whether their model of church depends on bible teaching happening in small groups. Sunday ‘church’ then becomes the time when you gather as a larger group to ‘worship’ (aka singing), people are converted here and then linked into small groups to grow in the word. However to operate a church like this that requires a major redefinition of what ‘church’ is. If it’s gathering around the word, then where does that leave hillsong’s Sunday meetings? (okay, so the word is proclaimed in their music…)
Just a bit of speculation though – as Wade was saying, it’s hard to know what really goes on unless you experience more of what they offer. however, I think we should get worried when the gospel is assumed and not proclaimed as central in every part of our church gatherings
As Katharine just mentioned, going to Hillsong was a one-off for Peter and myself. To be fair, yes, we don’t know what happens in the weekly groups, and so can only comment on our single visit and our one-off personal impressions.
It’s good also to think about how we sing at scpc. How is it that we can sing such wonderful words about our God but without passion and joy?
I went with Pete to Resolved and I just want to continue his praises. What an amazing church! If there is anyone in Sydney I encourage you to check out this church. It was such a change from the other churches I have visited recently, and felt so extremely welcomed straight away. The singing was amazing, hearing everyone sing was different, and it was encouraging to hear that people who heard on the street have walked in. Wow.
If the main pastor of Hill song endorses the teaching of the other pastors in the church“I know about the word from God that you’ve had preached to you this morning, I’ve heard it was great, and I hope you believe every word and feel the touch of God on your life today – thanks for a good sermon Mike, and I hope you all come back to our service tonight!”
and its a load of crap then it shows what the church model is based on.
In saying that God uses all situation to His glory plenty of people have become christians from this church and many from other wacker sects its God who calls His people back through the death and resurection of Jesus .Thats why alot of these people move on insearch of a church which leads by the truth of Gods word and have Jesus as the senior pastor
Our church sux in alot of ways but the one thing that i love about it is that we let God speak but we need to live what God speaks in obedience and response to the undeserving gift of eternal hope He lavashed on us.
Worship should be every minute of the day it should be the song we sing. Glory to Him that saved the worst of the worst that is me ,for He is my King I shall serve Him all eternity.
With what Peter said about not being able to hear the people around us, I sometimes think the music (e.g guitar, piano). Is that just because I’m at the front?
Wow – thanks for the many thoughts – it’s great to see some discussion.
In particular I’d like to add a hearty ‘Amen!’ to Wade’s comments re: the importance of not assuming the gospel (not just that i’m ballsy!). As I wrote in the blog: during the service I attended, although most of the songs taught me a little about God (and it was only a little) there was really only ONE song that communicated the gospel – the death of Jesus for my sins – his resurrection to new life revealing God’s saving love. That means that the half-hour sermon, all of the announcements/news, all of the prayers, all of the other songs, the almost complete lack of Bible reading, all of the conversations afterward – we ALMOST didn’t hear the gospel at all. That’s dangerous. That’s a church raising up the next generation to ‘almost’ not know Jesus – or, at the very least, to not think he’s very important. Sad.
I’m particularly relieved to hear that others have been at Hillsong before when they HAVE preached the gospel, more than they did on Sunday. But at the same time i’m uncomfortable – how could they ‘get it’ and not proclaim Jesus’ death for us every week? Throw a bunch of false gospels on top, and what do you get?
Katharine (Crossle) – I sincerely hope that you’re speculations are true and that their Small Groups are centered around reading God’s word. My fear is that, if the church leaders aren’t modeling the centrality of the gospel (and therefore the Bible) in their main meetings, why would the small group leaders do it differently? Hopefully my fears are in vain – I sincerely hope so.
And thanks to you blokes who’ve encouraged us to think more about singing to God with whole hearts – i long for that to happen at scpc! – show us how it’s done! (Trev – what about singing ‘Stand Up For Jesus’ at ‘blokes go bush’ – i’m keen!)
Since posting the blog last night I’ve found myself grieving even more – grieving for the sake of those thousands upon thousands of people who may not be ‘getting’ the gospel. To everyone who reads this – I hope you’ll join me in PRAYING FOR THE LEADERSHIP OF HILLSONG CHURCH – that they might increasingly realise the centrality of the gospel of Jesus, and transform their regular gatherings to be more honouring to Him. While you’re on your knees – join me in thanking God for the God-honouring and growing church that is Resolved, and praise God that they do have Christ at the centre. And pray for our own church family at SCPC – that we would grow in our willingness to honour and praise God in our gatherings – with whole hearts and passion – and that others would hear about Him through song.
yeah… so deep down I’m an optimist (see my previous comment), but I’m also a realist and have to agree with Peter – and the reality is that if any church is preaching an inconsistent message… well, that’s a bit of a warning sign that it’s not gospel focussed. The gospel might be there (in places), but it’s not the thing on which everything hangs together.
if we really ‘get’ the gospel, then surely this would impact all of our lives as followers of Jesus, and as a group of people who together follow him. how could we hear the gospel taught one week, and then tolerate it not being taught the next week? or be a part of a small group which is focussed on the word… but then attend sunday meetings which aren’t? or know what it is to have a healed relationship with God in Jesus… which is totally undeserved… but yet speak and sing about this relationship in a bored way? (which I am personally guilty of so often)
Maybe a good way of identifying potential ‘dangers’ in our church life is to look for these inconsistencies – what is proclaimed on sunday, taught in bible study and at youth, what we talk about over morning tea, what we sing about…? are all these things gospel centred? do they fit well together with the gospel at the centre? or are there any points at which they jarr against each other?? do we ever cross check the stuff we do at church… both with each other and with the gospel?
I’m praying that we sharpen up at this… that we don’t assume and take for granted our gospel centre at SCPC, but that we consistently cross check all of what we do together as God’s people – big stuff and the little details – and be bold in making changes where we need to, even if they are a bit outside our comfort zone
What a trooper to post this blog!
I have only been to Hillsong once, and it was a few years ago, but I found the same thing: lack of the gospel. On this particular Sunday I found a great emphasis on ‘giving’, and that the reason that we give is so that God’s blessings would increase, and that we ‘only get out what we put in’, a kind of ‘karma’ feel. It did not sit well with me and when the collection bag came around, I didn’t put any money in (I felt a bit bad about this afterwards…but got over it).
However, I do acknowledge that not only was this a few years ago, and hopefully this message is not being strongly emphasised anymore; but (as has been mentioned in other posts) going for one Sunday is not an ideal way to figure out what kind of church Hillsong is.
Anyway, it is good for us to be thinking about all these things so that we can see how SCPC can be better at running our services and reaching all that come through the doors with the vital message of the gospel.
Singing at SCPC is a bit drab (for want of a better word). I know that for myself, as a song leader, I need to be better at actually thinking about what I am singing and hearing the clear message of the gospel that is (thankfully) in our songs. I need to think less about how I am singing (not that I should completely disregard that) and stop being so dang nervous. I need to be singing praises to God, with the rest of the congregation…and the joy that that brings should be evident!
There are a few people at night church who do truly cherish singing to God! I hope to be more like those people…what an amazing privilege it is to be able to sing to our great God as adopted sons! Something that I definitely need to be working on…
Thanks again Pete!
Totally agree with you last blog Katharine.
I wonder if the problem (and it is a problem) behind our general lack of expression as we sing at church is that we live in an emotionally stunted culture. On the whole we are not encouraged to even talk about, let alone sing about how we feel. Emotions like gratitude, joy, shame, release, wonder – these are all expressions that many of us have not had nurtured and encouraged in relationships. On the whole, our conversations are dominated by news, facts and opinions – we don’t often get personal.
I think that small groups, however, are a place where a deeper level of expression is likely to happen and may in fact be the place where a revolution can begin. I know that its going to sound like the craziest idea to many, but I wonder what would happen if we sang together in our small groups…
What do you think?
wow 2 out ot 3
y’ know Pete, unfortunately I think you did well finding 2 good churches out of 3. I have not been so lucky, I’ve had 3 out of 3 disapointments lately.
Whats worse is that churches idolise Hillsong they look at the numbers and presentation and think this is what church should be. The one I went to that didn’t, and acually faithfully taught from the bible was a closed, unwelcoming group.
At our church, the ‘worship service’ tends to assume the gospel and the youth are confused, therefore often rejecting it. Praise God many still desire to know him. the most common complaint is however the music, which is often sung badly or we are pressured to dance and clap, neither of which I can do while singing and thinking about the words – music is not my strong point. but I just wish people would talk about how we could teach better, and about how we could respond to that.
I love SCPC and value what and how I was taught there, keep it up! I encourage you to replace yourselves and head out, doing what you can to infect all those churches who have lost their way with the true gospel. yes some you can’t change, but like my church some are willing, just lost or confused by the hype of Hillsong type churches.
I must be really in baby fog, cause i seem to be the only one of the opinion that i love the singing at our church! Whenever i look around (which actually isn’t very often) during songs, I see people with tears in their eyes, so obviously moved by what they are singing. I just love all the songs we sing and struggle not to be annoyed at my kids if they interrupt during a song, but I need to apologise for not showing this joy, and often overwhelming gratitude to God that most songs invoke in me. I’ll try to let it show. By the way, I’m guessing Pete Yock has never stood next to my Pete – he’s such a joyful LOUD praiser of our good God;)
I’m glad to see this discussion is starting to point the finger more in the SCPC direction – we’ve got a lot to learn. Having said that, I’m conscious of the hypocrisy behind my words – if most people at SCPC aren’t singing with all their hearts, then whose example are they following? Aren’t I one of the music guys up the front, leading everyone in singing? Lara Goudie was especially helpful in talking to me (and all the song leaders) about this when we had our music training weekend earlier in the year. I hope you’ll pray for me – and all the music team – as we try to help SCPC grow in our song. We’d love to get better at song leading, so that we can help you get better at singing together with us.
I’m not so sure that Aussies are people who could generally be called ‘unemotional’ or lacking in expression, since we can be pretty emotional in other situations – just watch the footy with Simon Allery, or ask someone at church how they feel about the Crees leaving. I’d say it’s more the case that we’re uncomfortable with SHOWING that emotion and expression in front of each other.
Mitch – you’re right, sometimes the band can be a bit too loud – and it’d especially seem so up near the front. Those guitarists are always annoying…
Pete – singing in small groups would be an excellent idea, and might seem crazy only because it hasn’t been done before (at scpc). But you’re right – becoming more comfortable showing expression within a small group would be a great place to start.
Suzie – there are seldom few people I can see from up the front each week who seem to be singing with all their hearts, and I’d just like to publicly thank you for being one of them – it spurs me on, every time.
This is a very interesting discussion!
Pete- I remember the Briefings review of hillsong conference about 3 or 4 yrs ago. Amongst all that it said it urged not to use anything that hillsong produces becuase it’s all built on the prosperity doctrine and in various ways their music reflects that. I remember chatting to my Pastor Paul about that; we decided that if a song was helpful for our flock then we used it. I guess I wanted to ask where do you stand on that?
I havent been a part of SCPC for a while now but what I remember about the singing was that it kind of sat in your description of the twist conference- very strong biblically- songs were a bit corney or cheesy (I often joked that you could string a whole heap of Nikki Chiswells songs togeather and create “christianity- the musical”). It is all to evident that a whole realm of churches have confused worship and limited it to singing- but what is increasingly evident is that we (“evangelicals”) have correctly said “no worship is about all of your life” but then incorrectly forgoten that worship is singing/ acknowledging with our mouths and proclaiming that God is God (just as much as it is a Rom12:1 whole life response). If we offer our lives (money, time, energy) but neglect to proclaim God with our mouths (in song and in prayer and even in our conversation) we will end up singing our own praises for all our life offerings.
Paul describes the body as being chirsts bride and in doing so imparts a strong image of intimacy. Now I’m not sure what the song time is like at SCPC in 2009 but I would guess that if the time is emotionless, going through the motions, un-joyous then maybe there are personal relationships with Jesus problems. Like everything is too black and white and people aren’t really engaged in a personal relationship with Jesus. There is no sense of closeness, Jesus is just head knowlege. When Gods word is read, taught, proclaimed it needs to stimulate the head! But it must also impact the heart! and then when it reaches our hands (our everyday living) it will be out of response and not duty. It’s the old head, heart, hands model. And it’s very important.
From what I remember from SCPC (or probably more TBT) is that it felt like too often it was about the theology. We have a lot of doctrines. After all we’re a denomination and all denominations are splits away from another group that thought something different. And we need to be clear about a lot of things because people get it wrong in a lot of places. But the way to combat that I think isn’t by teaching against it all the time but by simply teaching christ. As Paul addresses the Corinthian church and speaks to all their confusions about the gospel Paul sets an example that for him he resolved to know nothing except Christ and him crucified. The way foward is to be focused on the gospel.
Lord take us deeper into the glories of Calvary! Fix your eyes on Jesus. And to do that take your eyes off the garbage teaching that exisits in the crazy world of modern christianity.
A bit like your little newtown church. Just focused on Jesus.
I hope and pray that SCPC continues to grow. You are a real light to a region. Look to Jesus- you are his bride!
Gday Les, thanks for chipping in. I was in fact re-reading that very issue of the Briefing earlier today.
I’m aware that there are churches encouraging a complete avoidance of Hillsong songs – and for a time I was in agreement with them. It’s an issue i’ve discussed and wrestled with quite a bit.
When it comes to songs from Hillsong (and from many others), often the issue is not that the lyrics are HERETICAL (although sometimes they are, and should certainly be avoided). More often the issue is that the lyrics are VAGUE, or if they are clear, they’re very clearly NOT SAYING MUCH at all (and often very repetitively). It’s possible for Bible-believing Christians to sing these songs with a rich meaning swimming around in their minds/hearts – but they wouldn’t get that understanding from the song alone (or from the sermon). So in the context of a church service where the Bible is faithfully taught, these songs can be great – but in the context of a church service that doesn’t teach biblical truth (and DOES teach heresy), the very same song would only serve to further the problem. So what should we do?
There’s a problem with issuing a blanket “We should never do Hillsong songs because Hillsong don’t faithfully proclaim Jesus” – the problem is that it assumes that EVERY OTHER SONG that you sing at church comes from a church/music organisation that ALWAYS teaches 100% biblical truth. But do we really know that? For example, do you really know that every song that comes from Sovereign Grace Music is biblically faithful? I’m not saying they’re not – I’m just pointing out that “blanket rules” aren’t helpful, because they can lead people in your congregation to blindly believing every song from a particular church because “we sing their other songs at church.”
At scpc, we pick and choose from anywhere – including Hillsong. But we aim to choose songs that are:
1) biblically faithful
2) musically appropriate and enjoyable
3) lyrically poetic and helpfully expressive
It’s a hard mix to find – and the more you look for songs that do all 3 things well, the more you realise how in need the international church is for good congregational song writers. There’s an abundance of songs that teach heresy, or that vaguely teach the truth; but there’s also an abundance of songs that teach biblical truth and make you want to sore your arm off out of boredom and cheesiness! Often these bland (but lyrically faithful) songs are championed by churches (and organisations), regardless of how weak they are both musically and poetically. I think this is at least part of the reason the evangelical church struggles in their singing.
I wholeheartedly agree that the evangelical church has – by and large – so overreacted to the pentecostal movement that we often sing together with the same enthusiasm as a stunned mullet, and scpc is not immune. But at scpc we’re working hard to choose better songs and – especially within the music team – to change the culture, as we delve deeper into the glories of Calvary, and respond with whole hearts.
Hope that’s helpful Les. I hear you do a great job at leading the music at Youth convention.
Brother and sisters,
It is entirely disappointing and heartbreaking to read many of your critical comments about other churches on a church website. We are Christ’s body and He desires for us to be united.
Many of your comments are shrouded in wisdom, but are in fact vengeful and gossip. If you believe another church is in error, is it not better to pray FOR them, rather than publicly trash them? Some of you are even trashing your own church! By all means, have the discussions, but to publish this on the internet is embarrassing. Can you imagine what this would look like to those outside the church?
I have been to both Resolved and Hillsong. God is doing a wonderful thing through the faithful people of Resolved and I look forward to returning.
I would like to address a couple of points from your blog:
1. That the Hillsong congregation is taught that one can pray, worship and experience God ONLY within the church. That is not accurate. Indeed, it is taught that one does come to church to pray, worship and enter God’s presence, but personal devotion is also taught, as is the Spirit-filled life (ie. walking with God daily). In fact, this is part of the curriculum of their new Christians course. As Christians, we know God personally, but there is also something special about coming together with the purpose of meeting with God. I think you have been a bit knit-picky here.
2. That ‘we were worth every nail’. This is the grace message. That verse drives me to my knees and humbles me! It does not make sense that God would consider a wretch like me worthy of his love.
3. False prophets and the ‘health, wealth, stealth’ gospel. I believe it is entirely scriptural to pray for the sick to be healed and for God to meet the needs of the poor. Please note, that they are pray for GOD to meet the need, not encouraging them to become materialistic and lovers of money. The congregation is taught to forsake the world’s view on success and wealth and adopt Christ’s definition of success and financial management (in short: trust God rather than yourself).
4. On the lack of Bible and Jesus’ Name. This is an anomaly and cannot be defended. I’m sorry you had this experience, mate. Ordinarily, Jesus’ Name and the Word are lifted up and that people are exhorted to become right with Christ. I am sure that you are accustomed to solid expository preaching and proclamation of the Gospel in your Presbyterian church – certainly something done very well by the denomination.
In my encounters with the people of the church, I have found that they love Jesus and are committed to living a life dedicated to Him and the sacrifice He made.
Lots of interesting discussion here. Les – I believe there’s a problem with saying that the problem is that our church (or TBT) is that it’s ‘too often about the theology’. The whole ‘head, heart, hands model’ is actually often unhelpful because it creates a distinction that doesn’t exist in the Bible. ‘Head, heart & hands’ aren’t three aspects of the Christian life that need to be balanced out against each other, and if you focus too much or not enough on one then there’s problems. Instead the Christian life (as we’ll no doubt see more in Ephesians) is one of responding to the truth with our hearts which then shapes our actions. So we need to be all about the theology, which is what we know and say about God, because only knowing the truth about God and what he’s done for us in the cross of Jesus can change our lives. There’s no where else we can go to find a real and living relationship with Jesus. We find it by surrendering our hearts to God revealed in the gospel.
If we as Christians can sit under the Word of God and solid biblical teaching about who this God is and what he’s done and remain unmoved, what does that say? Is it too much focus on theology, or is the problem idolatry? That although we hear the amazing saving truth of Jesus, our hearts are in love with something else more?
Hope that helps
Hey Josh thanks for your words and I see your concerns with this being on a church site but we do need to warn people about false teaching. I think we need a discussion section for church members only were they can sign in and talk about these things and all so maybe done in there bible study groups but it has to be done carefully and remember that we all fall short of the glory of God and need to look at our own imperfect lives and see the changing we need to do.
As for SCPC we do need to work on things to as for putting it down nar I think it was more of saying were not perfect too and have a lot of things that we need to give to God and let Him direct us and let Him grow us as His children/people.Which i believe our Vision Sunday may be all about.
No church is immune to the follies of men because its run by sinful people but i believe God calls us to be vigilate until the day draws near.
For the healing side of things in our church we do pray for people to get healing if its Gods will for wealth well it all belongs to God the creator, i love how the first christians sold everything ,shared everything looked after the widows and orphans.
Would like to know where you are from and meet you one day my brother.
In the end its all about JESUS nothing more or nothing less.
Gday Josh – sorry to hear you disagree with some of the things I’ve written, and that you don’t think what I say is appropriate from a brother in Christ. It’s certainly not my intention to stir up trouble or cause grief.
But the Apostle Paul would have us say just these sort of things to each other. In 2 Tim. 3:16 Paul writes that all Scripture is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. According to Paul, we should be using God’s word to help each other grow in righteousness – holding the truth of God’s word up against what happens in our lives and our churches, and helping each other change when something’s out of line. I sincerely hope, Josh, that you’ve spent some time reading the passages I refer to in the blog, and are continuing to reflect on whether Hillsong’s practices and teachings are actually in line with God’s word and will.
The 2 Tim 3:16 passage also sheds light on why I’m willing to speak into the shortcomings of my own church. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted” (Prov 27:6), and my hope and prayer is that those at scpc who read this blog will receive the correction/rebuke of God’s word as from a friend and fellow struggler, so that we can seek together to make some changes for the honour of Jesus.
In response to your first 3 points, I especially want to encourage you to spend some time wrestling with the passages quoted in the blog. But you may also find it helpful to listen to the 3 talks on false gospels (health, wealth, and stealth) that were preached recently at scpc (you can download them from this website or iTunes). I’m not convinced that your arguments actually reflect what God says to us in the Bible.
In response to the 4th point, thanks for your humility. Despite your obvious frustration, i’m encouraged to see your willingness to recognise at least one of Hillsong’s shortcomings. Not preaching the gospel every week, and preaching several false gospels on top – that’s serious stuff (Gal 1:6-9). I really hope – and have been praying a lot in the last week – that the one true gospel (the death of Jesus in our place and for our sins so that when we trust in Him we can be right with God) is preached at Hillsong. But it’s at this point that I’ll add something I didn’t include in the blog – that I’ve been listening to quite a few downloads of Brian Houston’s talks, and he very often fails to preach the gospel. If other preachers at Hillsong aren’t preaching the gospel every week (and ARE preaching false gospels), they seem to be following his leadership. A church that fails to honour Jesus by preaching the gospel every week – they’ve missed mark.
Jesus is the only thing we should unite over, and a church that strays away from proclaiming and honouring him – that’s worthy of a ‘wound from a friend’.
Hey Pete, I was wondering whether this sort of thing has been drawn to Hillsong’s attention. I mean, we are trying to correct/rebuke them, so there isn’t much point if they don’t hear about it. Also, as Josh said, this is more like gossip if we say this behind Hillsong’s back.
Thanks Mitch! I appreciate the encouragement – you’re right, I really should talk to someone at Hillsong.
Since I do know people at both Resolved and Twist I’ve brought this blog the their attention, but since I don’t have any contacts at Hillsong I haven’t made any efforts to share it with them. However I’ve just tracked down the contact email address for Hillsong and have sent them an email.
Would you like to know what I wrote to Hillsing? Here’s a copy:
“Hi there Hillsong,
I visited your church last weekend (the 10:45am service at Baulkam Hills) and I would like to express my sadness and disappointment that the one true gospel of Jesus was not proclaimed by the preacher. There were many great things about the visiting Hillsong, but all of them were undermined by the fact that Jesus was not faithfully proclaimed. A church without Jesus at the centre of everything is not a church that brings honour to God.
Since last Sunday I have posted a blog about Hillsong (and two other churches I visited) on my churches website. Out of courtesy and the encouragement of others I thought I would bring the blog to Hillsong’s attention, since it’s gaining much attention both in Lismore and Sydney: http://www.scpc.org.au/2009/10/27/a-tale-of-three-churches/
My prayer for Hillsong is that the leadership of the church would be transformed – that they might preach Christ and Him crucified EVERY week, and lead the church in keeping Christ at the centre of all thing. peter yock”
I’d just like to add how much I enjoyed listening to the item “Soon” (by Hillsong) that we had at SCPC this morning! The item was well done by the band. The thing that made me choke up with tears as I listened to the song was the line “Though I have not seen him, my heart knows him well.” Beautifully written lyrics expressing how we love the one we long for, yet still haven’t seen. I’ll be (legally) downloading my own copy of this song for my MP3!
P.S. How did you find the singing at SCPC this morning Yocky in terms of how enthusiastic everyone (including the congregation) was?
Glad to hear it Dave. It’s a good example of a song that’s musically appropriate, lyrically faithful, and beautifully poetic.
It’s a bit hard to tell how the singing went from behind the drum-kit – but from what I could see (not much) the congregation were singing more heartily than they were, say, 6 months ago, and clapping more naturally than even a month ago. But we’ve still got a long way to go – and it’s guys like yourself and me, song-leading up the front, who need to be the ones showing the way. My turn tonight…
Woah. Clapping. That was way too much for my small brain to deal with, singing, clapping and focusing on what the words were saying (the wife pointed out that the congregation was, intentionally, clapping on the offbeat, unlike me who clapping was more like a flamenco palo). I soon gave up.
I felt a bit like Peter, that emotion was unaustralian, but I took your rebuke and gave it a go, trying to concentrate more during the songs rather than going through the motions. I must say that it was a helpful experience and that concentration and emotion seemed to go hand in hand. I suspect that the more I concentrate, the more I will get out of singing and hopefully build others up too.
Thanks for the blog Pete.
Can I just throw in that I thought the congregation at night church sang pretty well together, as a church, for and to God, tonight. Maybe it was because I was more consciously aware after following this blog for the last week, but I feel we are definitely getting better.
Way to go crew! Keep it up 😀
Hey Ryan and blog
I really do appreciate your comments. I agree with you that aren’t three aspects of the Christian life “head, heart and hands” that need to be balanced out against one another. That is a very unhelpful way to think!
The way I always understood Head, Heart and Hands was that as a process! It hits my head, it penetrates my heart and it leads into my actions. A little bit like the connect-grow-serve model. It’s all about processes not programs. This is all very biblical. God who gives transformation and new birth. SCPC from what I see on the outside is doing this. Recognising that God changes us and offers ministry that promotes Gods transformation rather than Christian activity. Praise God!
This head heart hands stuff has never really been taught to me. I just saw it somewhere and saw how much sense it made. It reminds me firstly of Romans 10:9
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
That it’s about knowing who Jesus is (head) and actually falling on that in a sense (heart). The theology is good (Jesus is Lord) but without it moving to the point by where it’s what you’re willing to live your life by (believe in your heart)- where you have no fear of dying because you are assured (by the holy spirits power) that resurrection is your future, well that’s what I think it needs to flow from. And that’s where Pauls logical or reasonable response comes in Romans 12:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
The salvation of Romans 10:9 leads to a life given over (hands).
It’s a process!
I just re-read your post and I picked up that you described it as a process too! Cool so we agree with that. (I hope).
So now here is a question. Can something hit your head and not penetrate our heart? What does it take to engage our heart? Or is that the very work of the Holy Spirit? To illuminate the truth of the scriptures and penetrate our heart with them?
I think really it’s God (HS) all the way along the process: Head- discern the truthful interpretation and reading of the scriptures, Heart- work and regenerate according to the truth, and Hands- give the power to live contrary to our sinful nature and live out the truth.
And so for the believer it is dependence on God all the way- rather than balancing out if we are being a head Christian and thinking how theologically am I thinking, being a heart Christian and thinking how spiritual am I being or being a hands Christian and doing doing doing all the time. You’re right- if we try too much to control this we will pay too much attention to one area. Really it’s all going on at one time as we engage with God.
So in my previous post as I was reflecting on my time when I was attending SCPC (and TBT) I couldn’t help but recall that I often felt that what was most important was that I understood the doctrines- it often felt like I was going to be sitting a test on it at the end of the month! Knowing Jesus- personally in God’s grace, wasn’t what I felt was emphasised as the most important thing. It definitely felt second to knowing good evangelical theology.
Now that is not saying that doctrine/ theology isn’t important (essential) and a right understanding isn’t necessary but I feel that these are a means to an end. And knowing Christ (and him crucified) is the most important thing. Like I said in the last post when writing to the church in Corinth Paul addresses a myriad of (theological) issues (and I really appreciated the SCPC sermon series on it) but he shows his trump card early that it is about relationship with Christ.
In the same way the gospel is said to be assumed at places like Hillsong church it can also be assumed among evangelical churches. It can be assumed and then everything that happens promotes evangelicalism above promoting the gospel. But we need to be aware of this because only when we are focused on the gospel, will what hits our heads be the amazing love Jesus has for us, which as our hearts are penetrated we spill over heartfelt thankfulness and lead lives that are authentically given over out of gratitude to God. (I hope that made sense!)
What my last post was trying to suggest is that when it comes to singing with heartfelt thankfulness and enthusiasm reflecting the amazing grace love and mercy God has shown me, if I’m not being shown the cross at the forefront than how can I respond in that way? But your comment that it might just be an idol who takes a place of our praise and heartfelt devotion is a pretty good synopsis as well! I absolutely would agree that it could be that.
Which makes me think- Evangelicals (and I’m probably thinking Sydney Anglicans when I say Evangelicals) have often been criticised for their treatment of the bible. I think the best way the criticism is expressed is the phrase “Father, Son and Holy Bible” (rather than Holy Spirit for those playing along at home). Basically do we idolise our well thought out (somewhat black and white) theology? I’d like to hear your response to that Ryan. My very short answer is that the bible is a means to an end (but we probably some times do).
I know that this would seem off topic but I think when it comes to our singing- we are a reflection of our relationship with God. After all singing in church is about expressing with all that we are the richness that is found in the gospel- both to God and those around us!
And so again we should ask are our hearts not getting what they need to respond this way? That is the rich message of Christ dwelling in us? That’s for each church to answer for its self!!!!
I sincerely thank God for leading me to be a part of SCPC and TBT. Although my experience was that the theology was a little bit more important than I think it should have been I am still very thankful. Especially thankful for men like yourself, Wade, Jason, Mitch G and Peter Y who lived with absolute conviction that Jesus is King and modelled that to me. For you guys and others like Matt S who put living for Jesus ahead of living for themselves.
Ryan I hope that this debate has been helpful and constructive. Any criticism I expressed of SCPC I only intended as constructive and in line (I felt) with the general tone of the whole blog. My stopping being involved with SCPC and TBT wasn’t in response to any issue I have expressed here. Rather having been inspired by what I had seen in you guys I really wanted to live that way more and more in Evans! If I ever find the perfect church I’ll run right away from it for fear that I would taint it!
Now to quickly respond to Pete Y’s response to my earlier post. Thanks for the encouragement mate!
We didn’t stop doing songs hillsong have used or written either. We just go for gospel focused songs!
I find but that there is a bit of grey are. A song like “here I am to worship” is a rich song for our church because it reminds us about Gods purpose in saving us and making us. Whereas if you were singing that at hillsong it might be understood by 90% of the congregation as to why they are there this morning. Do you find that?
Hello I’m Junji from Sydney
I was just browsing your website because I’m trying to build a new church website and thought I’d see what you guys do web.
What an interesting post! (I have one question at the end of my comment)
I’m really encourage to hear about Resolved and i think i have to visit that church next week! I do sometime get bored of the songs we sing at church or I don’t think much when I’m singing (often treat singing as some sort of warm up to the talk or break from the announcements). But as you said how great would it be if everyone is singing passionately for God and people can hear this sound of joy from the street!
With regards to Hillsong Church and their service, I haven’t been to their service before but I have many Christian friends who are part of Hillsong and one guy in particular, is involved quite a bit in the church. As you mentioned, about the positive qualities of the church, he’s always thinking about how he can connect with people- Christians and non Christians and how he can be relevant to all, and it show. Him and people from his “Connect Group” are out and about connecting with different people quite effectively.
But I do share the same concern about the nature of Gospel preached at Hillsong Church from others who tell me about it like yourself. Apart from checking out his church, what can we do to love him and encourage him not to divert from the TRUE Gospel? How can we encourage my friend or people like him who follow Jesus to love and serve his church and his community in a biblical way?
Hi again Les. I’m sorry you feel that way. We could go backwards and forwards about this for years I guess, but all I want to say is that I’ve been involved in SCPC and The Bible Talks for a while now and there has always been a focus on knowing God through understanding his gospel in the Bible, and the call to have our hearts and lives shaped by it. And this has always come through the sermons as well as in small groups and in the Christ-focused conversations and relationships I’ve had with people in our church, which have been founded on solid understanding of God in his Word, and for which I’m very thankful. It is such a focus on truly understanding God’s Word here, and only that, which God’s used to deepen and strengthen my relationship with him so much.
Graeme – glad to hear all this stuff’s been helping you to focus more on the song words during church. We only ever choose songs that’re soaked in God’s word – so if all of us focus more on the words, all of us will be hearing God more. It doesn’t really matter if you clap or not – if not clapping helps you to focus on the words more, then not clapping’s a great idea. And for others, the reverse is true. We want people to feel free to do either.
Rach – I agree, Sunday night was great. Singing ‘Reckless Love’ together made it particularly special for me.
Les – along with Ryan, sorry to hear you found scpc and tbt to be ‘all about doctrine’ and not about ‘knowing God’. I can testify that my experience is the complete opposite. As for a song like “Here I Am To Worship” – i find that song (and others like it) has an unhelpful focus on what WE WILL DO for God, rather than what GOD HAS DONE for us. Often behind these lyrics is the dodgy ‘worship’ theology – that we enter God’s presence at church, and what we do while we’re there is proclaim how much we love him and how much we’ll do for him(‘Jesus is my boyfriend’ kinda songs) – because that’s what ‘worship’ is. Far better would be to sing songs about TRUE worship – praising and trusting Jesus and all HE does for us. This helps us to remember why we’re there – to remember and listen to Jesus (through his word), and to spur each other on as we look to him.
Junji – thanks for dropping in. As for how best to help your friend(s), here are some suggestions:
1) pray for him
2) make sure he knows the one true gospel – ask him about it, and tell him about it – point him towards the truth of God’s word, and read it with him – point him towards Jesus and all he’s done for us by dying in our place and for our sins – and ask them whether this is what’s at the centre of their church (since it’s at the centre of God’s word!)
3) invite him to a Bible-teaching church, and go with him – you might be able to get him along to a Bible study too, or to a meal with encouraging people from church
4) give him some CDs or MP3s of solid talks on the Cross of Christ (you might also want to point him to our recent 3-week series on ‘False Gospels’)
5) do it all graciously and gently and with respect, and
6) keep praying for them!
Hey Ryan and Pete and Blog
SCPC is definitely about knowing God! People reading this you should be a part of SCPC if you are in Lismore. Like I said before I am very thankful to God for my time as a part of SCPC.
I guess good theology goes hand in hand with close relationship with God because it gives you a more true picture of who God is and it means you can relate to him better.
Pete with songs I get what u mean by songs that talk about what we do for God- they are annoying and unhelpful. What I was wondering is if some songs take on meaning from the context that they are sung in. We do sing “here I am to worship” because we understand it as the reason we have been put on this earth and the reason we have been saved is to be worshipers. Now if i went to a church that taught that worship was simply singing and they sung that song I would cringe, but contextualize it (regardless of what the writer may have intended) and its got a whole new meaning. How would psalm 96 be understood at hillsong? do you get what i mean?
This is a great talk and worth a listen after whats been talked about here. You can find it athttp://hv.thevillagechurch.net/sermons
its called ‘ Cultural Converts or Biblical Disciples’
its by a guy called Josh Patterson . I pray someone will take the time to listen to it.
Junji a few books to read first then give them to your friend are:-
A Christed Centred Church by A.W.Tozer
Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll
But the talk mentioned above is worth down loading and listening to and handing it on to your friend put as Pete said take it to God in pray and continue to pray for Him .
Hi guys, I’m the one who had the privilege of sitting next to Peter at TWIST … the one peter mentioned he could hear singing next to him!
I think TWIST is great, I’m thankful to God for what He achieves through it. I was encouraged by the day … but along with Peter, I think the corporate singing could’ve been better. The people in the band are very gifted, but I think it might help if the band played quieter or even acoustic at times (perhaps a bit more like your good experience at Resolved?) This way, I think the focus would be more on the singing and hearing each other (the redeemed!) sing … a great encouragement to sing yourself, I find.
The other thing I know helps me, (but perhaps not everyone!) is if something is said before all of the songs and even some things during the songs to direct (and keep!) my mind to what we’re singing. My mind so easily drifts to thinking about other things!
I’ve found this talk from Bob Kauflin helpful: http://www.sovereigngracestore.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=A2361-07-51
As for Hillsong, that’s a very sad experience you’ve had! But sadly not unusual from when I’ve been in the past, and friends who have been more recently. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t many Christians there! I know people who go to and have gone to Hillsong who are very loving and have an obvious love for the Saviour! Nor does it mean that they don’t do many things well. For example, I think it’s great how engaged and passionate the people are during the singing. However, I too am saddened by the serious concerns. A friend summed it up well, I think … that the greatest danger of Hillsong is the variation in it, that you could get a reasonably good (but probably not very deep) sermon one week, and then heretical teaching the next, or of course within the one service … really good and really harmful stuff together!
For these reasons, unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend anyone go to Hillsong. They aren’t necessarily going to hear a clear proclamation of the gospel, and will most likely hear other gospels! I’ve also been disappointed by a lack of discernment in who they get to speak, eg. Joel Osteen coming out for the Hillsong 2009 conference this year.
I commend you for writing a letter Peter! I am praying that they will take notice and boldly proclaim the one true gospel of Christ crucified for our sins to reconcile us to God! And then I will gladly support Hillsong!
And Peter, and the rest of you at scpc, great to discover your passion to honour God!
I hope that I qualify to comment from an objective stance – it’s been 29 years now since I became a committed Christian and have attended both mainline and Pentecostal churches and some years in the proverbial ‘Wilderness’ musing about many aspects of Christianity in particular the Pentecostal theology.
Most Pentecostals are sincere and passionate in the right sense and some not so. They are sincerely wrong in not focussing on Christ crucified, and passionate in their focus on all the priviledges to which a child of God is entitled more so than the amazing priviledge to simply be a child of God.
I’ve sat through countless sermons which could pass as a secular motivational talk based on random Scripture with no mention of Christ or Christ crucified. The emphasis was invariably how to overcome so as to lead a better life here and now. I might be so bold as to liken some pastor to a motivator giving their team a “Yes we can!!!” hype before going onto the field. At least they seem to shout at their subjects and flail their arms in the same manner on “stage”. Jesus has won the victory for us and we are to live in that victory.
Conversely, when the Gospel is preached, it leaves us feeling loved, convicted and encouraged because God calls the shot – even in allowing the harsh seasons in our lives. That’s His way of moulding and pruning to transform us into the image of Christ. Nevertheless, He’s always with us, not just during praise and worship.
Speaking of praise and worship … in the Pentecostal churches and seminars that I have attended, the worship leaders are bigger than life as they beckon and implore the seemingly deaf or reluctant congregation to “Come … come into the Throne Room of God … lay everything aside and come … come into His presence !!!” – my response at times was a frustrated “Yes I will if only you would get out of the way”.
A worship leader should aspire to be like the Holy Spirit – an unobtrusive but influential presence pointing the way to Christ. By the way, the above scenario beggars the thought that the ordinary lay person will have little or no chance to access the Throne Room of God during the week without a worship leader because it’s a big deal.
A lot of credibility is given to emotional sensation. I liken a lot of the manifestation I witnessed to the one I experienced while meditating on my ‘third eye’ many years ago (yes – sobering food for thought that we should be very discerning). At this time I was looking to a warlock for spiritual guidance in Jamaica where I grew up.
I will conclude with this positive thought. All true churches have something which is authentic and of God, we all lack something because we are imperfect. God looks at us with great divine love and is jealous for us. We are all at different stages on our spiritual journey and God promised to keep us until Christ returns but we must not allow pride and zealousness to hinder us from being open to consider “Is there any truth in this” no matter what the challenges in life are – secular or spiritual. So important to recall how Jesus responded to false accusations. He did not become indignant or defensive. He humbled Himself even unto death … for us.
I must say I regretted my post shortly after I posted it. I guess frustrations at church will be there until we enter Heaven.
I do love my church, Cooma Baptist, we dont always get it right, and there are things we could do better. so that is my aim to serve christ and make him known – through the main meeting and the rest of the week.
Lets be positive in our own church, and honour Christ with our lives. Lets pray for the united church under Christ.
Very interesting discussion!
Resolved sounds like a brilliant church! I think they have the luxury of being a new church and also non-denominational in being able to shape it the way they like without having anything they have to conform to (except the true gospel hopefully). It sounds similar (young, new, people off the street wandering in, warm, and genuinly loving and welcoming)to my new church, which by God’s grace I can be a part of. You are lucky you got the privaledge to be with them there Peter for that Sunday night.
Hillsong may not always have doctrinally correct teaching and its leaders and shepherds of that flock will be called to account for that. But it would be hard to argue that God, in his soveriegnty and by his grace, has used that church to draw many people to himself. I agree that teaching false or misleading gospels is sad and even disgusting… but even if they are doing so…
Is publically humiliating them on your/our (i still call SCPC my church sometimes) church blog the most loving response?
I’m sure you had the very best of intentions and I am a witness that you are someone who is prayerful and lead by God’s Spirit, and you know how much I love you dearly Peter. I know you have pointed out the good things about Hillsong, and have highlighted some areas of improvement for SCPC too. But the vibe of this blog, i fear, makes your/our church appear arrogant and ungracious.
By the way, who is this Mitch character? Did you buy him to replace me???
Les I dont have you email address but I would like it, mine is firstname.lastname@example.org, send me an email! and that goes for everyone at SCPC. I love you all and miss you very much!
I am “this Mitch character”. Sorry for not leaving my full name before.
Our Entertainment Worship Culture
“We are not producing worshipers in this country. Rather, we are producing a generation of spectators, religious onlookers lacking, in many cases, a true encounter with God, deprived of both the tangible sense of God’s presence and the supernatural relationship their inmost spirits crave.”—Sally Morgenthaler, Worship Evangelism
The state of worship in our churches concerns me. Specifically, the emphasis on entertainment in our corporate worship gatherings concerns me, especially as it pertains to music. Recently, I attended several churches where I felt more like a spectator than a worshiper. Like Sally Morgenthaler, I fear we are cultivating an unhealthy entertainment worship culture.
The Danger of Entertainment
Entertainment is often defined as something affording pleasure, diversion, or amusement. Whether we attend a sporting event, rock concert, or movie, we go to be entertained. We are spectators of a performance. In some churches, a visitor could easily confuse a worship service with a rock concert or theatrical performance. Why, then, do we engineer that kind of atmosphere in many of our worship experiences?
We can all agree that in order to be relevant to our culture we must speak the language of our culture. The apostle Paul made this argument in 1 Corinthians 9:22 when he said he willingly became all things to all men so that some may be saved. As much as our churches need to speak the language of our culture, we must remember that relevance is not our highest purpose.
Joe Horness, a former worship leader at Willow Creek Community Church, writes in Exploring the Worship Spectrum, “We can easily gear our worship times around what we think is hip or cool and forget that our primary calling is to serve our congregation and help them meet with God.” If we are entertaining our congregations with songs from the Top 40 charts rather than engaging them with truth and drawing them to God, are we really fulfilling the purpose of our gathering?
Sadly, entertainment is often sold in the name of evangelism. We are told that in order to attract unbelievers, our worship must be entertaining and exciting. While our church services should engage our congregations, we have to be careful not to teach people that a worship service exists for their entertainment rather than for God’s glory.
Paul Goebel, a worship leader at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, believes that while entertainment may bring people in the door, it falls short of leading them to worship. “We must strive to never find our selves distracted by tradition or nostalgia, nor by what is cutting edge or trendy. As human beings on this side of Heaven, it is easy to get distracted by the things that bring us to God and stop short at the door to the Throne.”
Unfortunately, even our attempts to be relevant often fall short. In his book, Whatever Happened to Worship, A.W. Tozer writes: “Oh, brother or sister, God calls us to worship, but in many instances we are in entertainment, just running a poor second to the theaters. That is where we are, even in the evangelical churches, and I don’t mind telling you that most of the people we say we are trying to reach will never come to a church to see a lot of amateur actors putting on a home talent show.”
Our culture doesn’t want to attend a poorly executed talent show for God when far better entertainment options are readily available. At this point we could argue the need for excellence in churches, but then we run the risk of focusing on the quality of performance rather than the objective of leading our congregations in worship.
While entertainment is not an inherently bad thing, its place in a worship service must be questioned. “The line between worship and entertainment is determined by the object of affection,” says Goebel. “Entertainment is for the purpose of pleasing the human ear. Worship is for the purpose of pleasing God.” When our worship services exist to simply please the ears of the congregation rather than the heart of God, can we still honestly call them worship services?
As the apostle Paul writes in Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Clearly, who we are trying to please in our worship services is of utmost importance.
Taking a Step Back
This is by no means a call to eliminate all forms of performance art from our worship services; rather, it is a plea to examine our use of them. We must question whether such performances are for entertaining our congregations or edifying them. When the church encourages the overuse of performance in our worship services, we reinforce the expectation of entertainment. The more emphasis we place on entertaining our congregations rather than engaging them and inviting them into worship, the more we cultivate an entertainment worship culture. We make spectators instead of worshipers.
We need to take a step back and reevaluate the purpose behind our worship services. We need to ask ourselves why we do what we do. In beginning this process, I see four important steps:
Understand Worship—Unfortunately, many of us have an incomplete or skewed view of true worship. Worship extends far beyond music; it is our continuous response to God, in all that we do, because of who He is. A proper understanding of worship will shape how we lead our congregations. (For a more on worship, see the recommended reading sidebar.)
Check Our Hearts—While our intentions in using entertainment in our services can be pure, we must constantly check our motives—we are all capable of placing our confidence in manmade things. As we incorporate music into our services, we should ask ourselves these questions:
• What purpose does this song serve in our time of worship?
• What does the song have to say about God and us?
• How is this song drawing people to the Lord?
Know Our Congregations—Every church is unique, so no one formula works for all churches. Just because a church in Seattle worships in a particular manner doesn’t mean it’s the right formula for our church. We must know what engages their minds, speaks to their souls, and enables them to participate in worship.
Pray—While this last point may sound cliché, it is of great importance. Leading our congregations in worship is not a minor task. Left to our own devices, our worship times can become about us. We must be in constant prayer, asking for the Lord’s guidance as we seek to serve and worship Him.
The Fine Line
May we all examine our motives and hearts as we program our corporate worship services. May we never seek to entertain the ears of man, but rather engage their hearts and always strive to bring glory to our God. In the end, I pray that the Church would produce passionate worshippers of the Lord rather than mere spectators of passing entertainment.
Daniel Darnell is a COLLIDE staff writer. He has been involved in leading worship for the past nine years. Permission to use article as long as there is no fiancial gain.
Of course, i knew writing about Hillsong would rub a few peoples’ backs up the wrong way – no matter what i wrote, whether positive or negative. I have to say though, my greater intention (and hope) was that we might draw our attention to our own church family – at scpc – and how we can make some changes for the sake of Jesus, and for the sake of making him known here in Lismore (1Cor 9:19-27). Graeme J and Suzie Thompson seem to be showing us the way forward with this – and i’m delighted that they’ve shared in their comments above how this blog has helped him to make the most of our time singing together in Church on Sundays. I hope that this perspective will help those who’ve expressed their disapproval above – and perhaps those who are silently reading along and not commenting – to see why i wrote what i wrote.
Donovan – thanks for chipping in, and nice to hear from you! I especially appreciate your friends comment that the real danger in Hillsong lies in the variation – that you might get the gospel one week, but not the next; and that every week what you will get is false gospels or other vague teachings. I agree – that doesn’t sound like the sort of place you’d encourage someone to go.
On my email to Hillsong, since a few people have been asking me – no, I still haven’t received a response. I have, however, listened to the talk by Brian Houston that came on CD in the welcome pack I was given when I attended. Sadly, yet again, there was no proclamation of Jesus death in our place and for our sins – yet false gospels were proclaimed aplenty. The big idea was: “the reason you haven’t reached your full potential is that you’re not trying hard enough – but if you keep trying, and don’t give up, God will help you to MAKE YOUR MARK and FULFILL YOUR DREAMS”. Preaching the one true gospel: fail. Preaching false gospels: success. And this is their welcome pack, designed to show you what their church is all about.
It’s not my central intention to humiliate Hillsong. But it’s most certainly a part of my intention to point out that – whatever Hillsong might claim about themselves – in practice, Jesus is not at the centre of their church. And that is DEVASTATING. If God is bringing about good things through Hillsong, he’s doing so in spite of their leadership. My prayers for transformation continue to be with them.
Hi, I notice that the reason this article was written was so that we could reflect together as a church family on how best to honour God with our own services at SCPC etc. and in doing that giving some constructive reflection of recent experiences-good and bad. I don’t see it as a deliberate humiliation, vengeful or as gossip , but an opportunity for evaluation and change, maybe even revolutionary change. I’m with Suzie, I love the singing at our church too, the opportunity to praise God for who He is and what He’s done (but maybe need to show it more somehow) and I appreciate the thought that goes into choosing the most appropriate songs. I know personally that there have been times that I have been moved to tears during the singing, but I’ve probably tried to hide it (no secret now…). I think that something that is also a real strength and done consistently well at SCPC, is that the gospel is always central and you couldn’t miss the message of Jesus in any service because whatever the topic, it always gets brought back to the foot of the cross.
I usually attend the morning services at SCPC, where there are lots of families and children around, which sometimes can mean more distraction and less ability to concentrate. I’m sure lots of factors would contribute to how different peoples singing is affected though, like how we are relating to God, emotions, taking the opportunity for granted, concentration level, personality, etc. (hopefully not just pure boredom….)
With Resolved having a view to reaching out to musicians and artists between 18 and 30 y.o. I’m assuming that people in that bracket would account for most of their congregation, so they would be blessed with quality singers and musicians, and that would naturally attract more of the same. I think that presuming that most people from SCPC are God-loving shower singers like me, we are doing pretty well and we are blessed with a talented and committed music team. Still, I wholeheartedly agree, that the vision to really show how much we understand and cherish what God has done for us to the extent that our singing alone would attract people from off the street would be brilliant!
Makes me wonder if we should “throw the doors open”…
So strange … I submitted a response on the 6th and even though it appeared on the blog as No. 40 on my screen with a “waiting to be modified” notation – it did not show on someone else’s computer when accessed. three days later, I was advised that it’s now there. I wonder why?
So strange … I submitted a response on the 6th and even though it appeared on the blog as No. 40 on my screen with a “waiting to be modified” notation – it did not show on someone else’s computer when accessed. three days later, I was advised that it’s now there. I wonder why?
Hi Val if you have never submitted a comment before it will not go straight up it has to be “moderated” not “modified”( darn that english language) but from now on you will find your comments should go straight up.
And thanks for the great comment you made its good to hear from someone who has been in both sides for awhile. your a beautiful inspiration Val
Hi Val if you have never submitted a comment before it will not go straight up it has to be “moderated” not “modified”( darn that english language) but from now on you will find your comments should go straight up.
And thanks for the great comment you made its good to hear from someone who has been in both sides for awhile. your a beautiful inspiration Val
Very interesting….don’t suppose you’ve heard from Hillsong? Cheers, Sarah
Hi Sarah – yes, one of their pastors phoned me a week or two after I emailed them the link to the blog. Sadly the conversation didn’t go too well – he and i were in sharp disagreement about whether or not Jesus was being faithfully proclaimed at the centre of all things by Hillsong church. We did, however, agree to pray for each others church. I challenged him to do all within his power to encourage the leadership of Hillsong – especially Brian Houston – to always preach Christ and him crucified. But the problem is, they think they’re already doing that. Sad.