Issues Learnt from Colson and "Draw Me Close to You".
I've found a blog that has much more to say on the rather disturbing event where apparantly Colson shouted down a worship leader because of his dislike of a song. Initially when I read Sam Storm's response to Colson's behaviour, I thought it was merely a matter of somebody else taking a pot shot at this precious song of worship - but the blogger manages to extract some more issues that need thought and dealing with. For example;
1. Who is 'In Charge' of a Time of Worship - the Worship Leader? Or the Pastor?
This was actually raised in the comments section and it is well worth addressing. For somebody like myself who worships in a charismatic church, the suggestion can be given that it is the worship leader who is 'in charge' - because they are the one at the front with the guitar or the piano or the microphone, and the pastor only appears when the singing is quietening. Actually I am quite a fan of the style at my home church in Dunstable where the elders would sit up on the platform along with the singers. Just as similarily at Stoneleigh or at Brighton. It presented a more visual symbol as to who was leading the meeting.
Oops I've given my view away - I would support the view that a 'governing elder' should take overall responsibility for the meeting, but the worship leader should have freedom to listen to the Holy Spirit and take the meeting anyway he or she feels fit. I don't agree with the principle that a worship leader should have to get an 'approved' list of songs before the meeting.
Anyway less of my comments and what I think - here are some examples of the discussion:
One man commented: "Albeit unorthodox for Pastor Colson to respond the way he did I believe he has clearly shared why he responded in the way he did and his actions are clearly justified. Anytime a worship leader challenges the authority of the Pastor they have violated the chain of command clearly defined for the church and as such, were church discipline followed, and it seems it is more often ignored than followed, a meeting should follow and the issue should be resolved in private if possible".
Fair enough. But it seemed that gentleman had gotten confused. Colson was in no position of authority at all when he called out against this song.
The blogger comments: "I'm not sure why you're bringing the issue of pastoral authority into this issue. I think you're confused. Chuck Colson is not the pastor of this church, he is a parishoner. If the pastor wanted to step in during worship; that's his perogative; and something that I, as worship leader, would be open to. But people in the congregation shouting NO to the worship leader during the service is not acceptable. (as is people who shout 'it's too loud' or publically put both hands over their ears. It's called rudeness".
The original commentator had the grace to apologise but had a challenging question to consider: "Again my apology for the mistake in positional authority, but nonetheless what if a pastor did this to any worship leaders here, how would you respond? Would you accept the open rebuke or would you challenge the ranks?".
Yes. Is it EVER right to behave like Colson did and stop a song? Or a prayer? Or a spiritual gift? Of course, if it were heretical I have no qualms whatsoever. But I would be interested to hear from any elder or pastor who would feel confident enough in his ability to 'discern the spirits' to go up to someone and tell them to be quiet.
2. Worship through teaching? Or Worship through Music?
One man commented: "I couldn't believe what I was reading. I've admired Chuck Colson for many, many years for his defense of absolute truth and for perpuating a biblical worldview but his actions were out of line. A disruption of a worship service is never acceptable. Colson seems to be confusing relevance with preference. He is showing a bias towards worship through teaching over worship through music. Both are offerings to God and if offered with excellence and purity of heart neither should not be questioned as "unauthorized fire".
But indeed there is a divide (0r a 'convergence' if you are Sam Storms) between choruses or love songs and theological hymns. This is nothing new. It's been present since the Psalm singers looked down on the Wesley's for introducing their 'new-fangled' hymns. A commentator noticed a helpful similarity though:
"Some of the "ancient hymns" had 18 verses filled with wonderful imagery of God, our need of him, his awesomeness, and so on. Probably none of us has ever sung all 18 verses. Contrast that to many (the majority?) of the praise choruses of the 80s and 90s - usually 2 verses and a chorus, if that. In the "worship music movement" of the past 6-10 years or so, I've noticed a move back toward more expression in the lyrics; i.e., more words/verses.
Why do I say this? Because I think we can do the congregation an injustice when we simply repeat the same few words over and over and over - regardless of how "theological" those words may be. "Our God is an awesome God" - how true! But to sing only the chorus of SCC's song can become little more than mindless repetition, which God has said is not pleasing to him.
I am NOT saying that we should never repeat songs or choruses. Repetition can not only aid learning, it can help to move our thoughts toward a real, heartfelt agreement with the words we are repeating".
Yes. Repetition is a helpful friend and a dangerous enemy. Two songs immediately spring to my mind that I have sung over the last three years. One was quoted by the commentator, the other was called the "Gospel Song" and it was indeed not lacking in theological content but was quite short. They were sung on many occasions and never particularly evoked an emotional response in me. On that count I guess I might have felt some affinity with Mr Colson. Yet would he have actually been happy because the chorus was full of theological content? So then surely the issue is with repetition rather than content? Or are we in fact pursuing something deeper in our times of worship? Are we indeed seeking to evoke a response of the spiritual affections?
3. The Key Issue at Stake.
This to me is the crux of the matter as seen by a commentator: "Hmm...I say let's not end up making Chuck's mistake of over-analyzing things here. He was rude. Period. He actions embody the selfishness that is so predominant in our culture today in that he showed no concern for how his outburst effected his pastor, his fellow "worshippers" and his own wife!".
Furthermore I think the blogger shows some remarkable discernment into what is displayed in this whole matter. This isn't a clever celebrity moment to chuckle at the "wooliness" of a song. But rather we should be asking ourselves this:
"I wonder how God feels when He looks down and sees someone singing "You're all I want, You're all I've even needed" and then sees someone standing stoically with their teech clenched thinking "this song has no theological value". I know who I'd rather be. Perhaps it would be better for Chuck to find a church that better fits his worship philosophy rather than waiting for something to 'break the camel's back' and for him to lose it publically in a worship service".
I too know who I'd rather be. Because in this comparison I see hideous similarities with the Pharisee standing in the courts and the Samaritan beating his chest and asking for forgiveness for a sinner such as he. I cannot end such a post without our beloved phrase; "Jesus is my boyfriend" ;). It actually appeared in the comments section of this blog! The lady begins by taking a similar stance to individuals I have addressed before on this. But then notice a subtle change.
"I too am a little uncomfortable with what my husband and I call "Jesus is my boyfriend songs" (and I'm a female...) but have continued to use them in our worship repritoire because so many responded so deeply to these songs. I didn't understand this until shortly after discovering the repeated sexual abuse our two oldest children had gone through at the hands of a good friend. After taking some time off it was just the second time I had led worship since we had learned of the abuse and we were singing the song "In Your Hands" by Ruben Morgan- a song I inherited from the previous worship leader. As I sang the song, ever word touched and connected with me at a time when I was angry, broken, hurting, afraid, helpless, felt trapped and grieving. Through the words "So close, I believe You're holding me now In Your arms I belong, You'll never let me go. You gave Your life, Your endless love, You set me free and showed the way- now I am found"
I had permission to have those feelings and still be reminded I was not alone even while my attention was on God. They were a far cry from most of the hallow words of comfort from those that didn't know what to say. And for me it was healing to realize that though worship isn't based on my feelings, my feelings are part of my worship of Him and singing to Him in that intimate way was an invitation to healing that I longed for. The words of that song even helped me have hope for my daughters- it wasn't just for me but reminded me how He saw them and how He would hold them through all their pain".
Some more thoughts to ponder!
"...I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have DRAWN YOU with lovingkindness..."- Jeremiah 33:3 -
"Greater love has no one than this, that he LAY DOWN his life for his FRIENDS..."- John 15:13 -