Posted on August 4, 2010
Open Letter to Pastors and their Churches
When visiting your church, please don’t make me walk into a dark auditorium without the ability to read the bulletin you passed out at the door nor without the ability to see those sitting near me so I may greet them or they may greet me.
Please don’t make me listen to a wall of sound coming from a band performing on a stage singing words I cannot understand. And, for those words I do understand, please don’t use arrangements that are so harsh and “angry” sounding that it’s no different than the grunge sound so prevalent in today’s pop music.
Please don’t try and entertain me with humor referencing your groin area (“fly check”? C’MON!).
Please don’t make me watch video clip after video clip (I stopped counting after 4) in an effort to illustrate one point. And, if you do use video clips, please don’t show ones that are potentially offensive with a gladiator lunging a sword into his opponent.
Most importantly, please don’t throw up just a few Bible verses on the screen and spend 20 or more minutes telling me what you think they say when in fact the inspired author of Scripture had no such intention, as the context and genre clearly portrays. Even if your point is a biblical one, please spend enough time in Scripture to find texts that clearly illustrate your point, rather than read into a passage something that’s not there (Hint: You may want to distinguish between historical narrative and ethical instruction).
Instead, please take worship of the living God seriously by using humor sparingly and always in good taste.
Please take worship of the living God seriously by asking the band to choose songs that are contemplative and reflective of Scripture and performed in ways that are more dynamic in style (Hint: Along with full instrumentation, why not just use an acoustic guitar and/or piano + vocal on occasion?). I understand that styles of music are subjective. But, just as with humor, because it’s subjective is all the more reason to make your selections carefully and prayerfully.
Please take worship of the living God seriously by spending long hours laboring over God’s inspired Word so you understand, apply where possible, and proclaim the mind of God in the power of the Spirit. If there is only one point you wish to convey in your sermon, use Scripture responsibly by unpacking it in a systematic way so I understand and am moved to action. [Hint: You may want to read Haddon Robinson’s fine book Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages).
This experience is real and did in fact occur. It sadly portrays so much of my experience in finding a church so please, pastors, ask some penetrating questions about what you’re doing with God’s church.
Finally, please, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, take this to heart. That’s all I ask….for now.