Monday, February 19, 2018
Disappearing Mushrooms vs Longstanding Oaks
Historians say that the sacred music of the Christian church, such as that of Palestrina, Allegri and Tallis, is one of the greatest gifts of the gospel to Western civilization and on a par with the splendor of the magnificent European cathedrals, such as Chartres and Lincoln. Yet this rich treasury is an unknown world to many Evangelicals, whose worship music often draws only from songs written after 2000 and does not even include the rich heritage of Celtic Ireland, St. Francis of Assisi, Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, and Fanny Crosby. Thank God for magnificent exceptions, such as the rich, deep hymns of Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, which will join the music of the ages. But much of the run-of-the-mill renewal songs, which are repeated endlessly and constructed more on rhythm than melody, confine Evangelicals within as shallow theology, threadbare worship, fleeting relevance, and historical amnesia. Along with soft preaching and a general rage for innovation, such music is another reason why many Evangelical churches resemble a field of quick-growing, quick-disappearing mushrooms rather than a longstanding forest of oaks. Again and again I have been regaled with the church growth maxim, “You have to sacrifice one generation to reach the next.” But this turns on a false assumption, and it leads to the telling fact that the fatal weakness of Evangelical church growth is succession. Church growth “success” without succession will always prove a failure in the end.