Pastor's Food for Thought
As the seeker-sensitive movement ramped up its stranglehold on modern Christianity, pastors found themselves in a difficult position trying to accommodate the biblical traditions of their past while leveraging the apparent power of the new methodology. In this new approach, sermons were replaced with “talks,” preaching was replaced with “sharing,” pews were replaced with chairs, libraries were replaced with coffee bars, and ultimately, God’s glory was replaced by man’s “felt needs.” The results spoke for themselves—unbelievers (the supposed “seekers”) loved it, gathering in droves for a worship service centered around them rather than God.
Of course, the underlying philosophies behind this change began even a few decades prior, as John MacArthur recounts:
Prior to the 1960s no one expected a church service to be entertaining. No one wanted to be told to touch their neighbor and repeat a trite phrase suggested by the preacher. No one thought of worship as a physical stimulation. No one dreamed of using flashing lights and smoke to set the atmosphere in a worship service. No one demanded to be told that God accepts them just the way they are.
When you went to church you expected to be thoughtful and quiet—prayerful, sober, reflective. The service was ordered so that the word of God was central. It was read and proclaimed with the aim of leading you to understanding, conviction, transformation, and elevation. The structure was deliberate, and the objective was for people to have an encounter with God through an understanding of his truth, with an opportunity to express it in corporate worship.
But by the time large-scale protests and student rebellions came into vogue in the 1960s, some of the experts were already telling church leaders that God-centered worship, sober reverence, and serious preaching from the Bible about sin and holiness are all far too absolute, too narrow, irrelevant, and possibly even offensive to the culture in which we live. Young people were seeking “authenticity” (sin and all), and they had no interest in sanctification, holiness, purity, godliness, or separation from the world.
Because many church leaders were not well grounded in Scripture and sound doctrine themselves, they were susceptible to those ideas. They lost sight of the fact that their job was not to make unbelievers happy with the church; it was to feed and lead and guard the flock of God—and to teach the saints to be like Christ. – John MacArthur Sanctification: God's Passion for His People
Unfortunately, even if your church survived the battle without many scars, it likely suffered at least one casualty: the hymnal. Slick, adaptable, high-visibility projection screens—trademarks of the PowerPoint preaching begun in the ‘90s—were simply too irresistible for most local congregations to avoid. The question is, was this change nothing more than a cosmetic difference? You be the judge.
Here are some things I think your church may have given up when it gave up hymnals.
1. A Connection to Church History
2. An Immunity to Theological Fads
3. A Guard Against Shallow Music
4. A Teaching Guide for Music Literacy
5. An Audible Expression of Unity in Diversity
6. A Technologically Impervious Medium of Communication
7. A Ready Tool for Ministry
(JOSH NIEMI - Expository Parenting Ministries 2021)