Pastor's Corner: A horse of a different color

Friday, February 1, 2013

There is a place for just about every kind of worship taste in the Christian family. In some places, music is rocking with a band and a line of singers front the band as worship leaders. Other folks say, that is too much like "entertainment" for me. "I would rather have a church service that looks more like those in the movies from the 50's". Of course, those are extremes, and there is a place of just about every stripe in between.

My ministry of some 36 years has spanned the era of the Christian "worship wars" in this country. My own preference is to "blend" a worship experience with a traditional outline and trappings which feature music of types and styles from every culture where the church proclaims the message. It is a challenge for me to sing a hymn or spiritual song that would most fitly be accompanied by a mariachi band. What fun!

What can be termed matters of style or preference do not effect the basic message of the faith. Unfortunately, as we American Christians all seek to brand ourselves for the widest appeal, I believe there are some misconceptions about the faith itself that seem to be gaining ground in our culture. In the last census, there was a considerable increase in the number of persons who when asked about a faith orientation listed "none". It is one of our basic freedoms to have freedom to practice our own religious faith, or to be free from coercion in the practice of a particular faith.

The thing that does concern me is that the Christian "brand" has also taken a beating in recent years which may be reflected in such statistics. Many good, well meaning, responsible Americans when asked about the church have described it as "judgmental", "authoritarian", "dogmatic", "fundamentalist", and even abusive. Where is this coming from? Some of the more visible proponents of faith have made the headlines acting in just some of these ways.

I guess we who practice faith need to attend to the message that our words and actions are truly conveying. There are still and need to be more places where the love of God is taught, and caught, and acted out. When skeptics see people of faith living the words of Gospel, it is not likely that "converts" will follow...but perhaps there will be a bit

more grace and good will in the world. That would be truly a horse of a different color!