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Shall we dance?

By admin | May 16, 2008

Submitted by IRBS Fellow Mike Renihan, Ph.D.

An old acquaintance of mine called to vent about some matters and ask advice about others. The advice was sought about a particular situation at a church where his wife was the ‘minister of worship.’ Yup, that’s right, can you see where this is going?

He was disturbed at the direction the church he attended was moving. The leaders had commissioned a demographic study to find out how they should go about attracting an audience — excuse me — congregation. The study encouraged them to go after 32 year old men. Its premise roughly stated was, “If you get the man, you get his family and his wallet.” The likes and dislikes (felt needs) of the hypothetical 32 year old man were expressed in the study. Among other things, he likes sports, rock ‘n roll music, especially oldies from when he was young, and the report stated, for my purpose in writing, he likes to watch younger women dance.

So what does the leadership team do? They increase the number of sports teams and outlets for athletic activities, especially for the men. They change the music during so-called ‘worship’ to be ‘more contemporary,’ using at least one ‘oldie’ feeling song each time the group meets. Then they added ecclesiastical dance at the start of their assembly — at this point, I am having a difficult time calling it worship. It was reported that a young woman came out in a tight fitting outfit to dance to the music. She moved to the flow gracefully, attracting a lot of attention of one kind from the 32 year old men and a very different sort from their wives who thought, “What’s this?” My friend admitted having to avert his eyes.

One of the ‘respected’ men in the group-at-large gathered that Sunday recognized the dancer and quietly told one of the leaders that she really was quite a dancer — an exotic dancer from a local club. Word came out as it usually does. Controversy ensued, but all was forgotten quickly. The action had no consequences for anyone; that was too judgmental. The question to me was, “Mike, what should I do?”

The problems were many. Worst of all was the hidden problem of the collective hearts — utter carnality that drove all this group did. Even the sermons were stories designed to evoke a visceral (read fleshly) response. The music was designed to touch the emotions. What a social group uses to attract people is what they have to maintain in order to keep them.

Reports like these are becoming all too regular as so-called evangelicalism continues to drift from the biblical and reformational primacy of the mind to Romanticism’s primacy of the emotions or Existentialism’s quest for some mystical experience of something beyond ourselves — anything will do, thank you very much. As moderns, or call them what they are, “postmoderns” try to ‘connect’ with others, they are willing to use any means available to them to justify their carnal ends, while thinking they are legitimate pursuits.

As for me, give me the means God has ordained. I have all the confidence in Him that He will accomplish his holy will through the commands and promises given, whether I like them or not, regardless of how I feel, and without regard to my perceived needs. Let God be God and let Him glorify himself. His knowledge of me is able to bring to me and others, what we all truly need — a renewal of our minds, that we may bring all thought captive to our Christ. Having been delivered to a form of doctrine, by His grace and for His glory, tell me the Truth. It is what I really need. But, not only me, give it to my family, my friends and the brethren I have come to love in Christ. To keep God’s Word and ways from them is to deal treacherously with their souls. There is a new liberalism acting as a fox in the hen house. We need another reformation.

Topics: Church, Preaching, Regulative Principle of Worship, Scripture, Worship | Comments Off on Shall we dance?

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