Monthly Archives: July 2009

Lame Theo, and Jesus is my Boyfriend Music

I’ve often wondered why so much of the music on Christian Radio has pretty bad theology, why in some cases, its seriously lacking in artistic content, and far too often its boring and repetitive. I came across this fascinating discussion on Shaun Groves blog, and I think it provides some potential answers. I’ve copied parts of the blog, and some pretty insightful comments below.

I believe putting a gaggle of white conservative Christian women around age forty in a room to register their immediate approval or disapproval of a minute long (or less) musical clip only leads radio program directors to choose music of tomorrow that sounds just like the music of yesterday: all that’s being tested is familiarity. Different loses. Same wins.

I’m saddened by the state of Christian radio today–so much so that I’m seriously considering leaving Christian radio period. At least the general market/secular stations are honest about what they do–trying to earn money and make a profit…. It’s deception. Are we in it for the money or are we in it for the opportunity to show Jesus to a dying world? I’m almost to the point of thinking that I can show Jesus better while working at a secular station than at a Christian station. My point in this is that Christian radio, unfortunately, is no different than secular radio in its procedures, methods, and ways of doing things. It’s all about the money.

I think those in Christian radio have a responsibility to their listeners to give them not only what they want, but also what they need.  I’m sorry if this sounds like a cliche, but I doubt that Jesus or His teachings would have tested well in our control groups (“eat my flesh… drink my blood” anyone?).  At what point are we just tickling the ears of our listeners and fattening them up on Christian junkfood that clogs their spiritual arteries.

The gospels end with a commission.  Yet we are notoriously reluctant to answer that commission ourselves or support those who would.  We only support what we benefit from, what we enjoy, what gratifies us.

Whats interesting, is this was written in 2006…. and now in 2009, the whole Christian Radio domain is undergoing massive shrinkage. The soccer mom audience support is decreasing, the whole industry is changing. The fellow the blog article initially was about is no longer with powerhouse Salem Communications. The GMA is even shrinking…. Its no longer business as usual.

Does this mean programming changes? Thats a toughie… as if the market shrinks enough, it will reach the point where its no longer sustainable. Of course, which demographic would come in to pick it up… And if no one does, perhaps the big conglomerates may start selling things off just to survive.

That might well open the door to a new type of radio ministry, or should I say, a return to the old style locally owned, labor of love of Jesus type ministry. Ie, the 2 guys with a love for Christ in an old RV or trailer, who barely can cover their electricity… but make darn sure the Gospel is preached, not just to 3%, but to as many as possible.

Backwards Priority

Remove the pastor to allow the church to continue? Economically, the congregation just can’t afford a pastor anymore… I’m hearing this a lot as of late. I remember James Glasse writing in “Put it together in the Parish” that even the tinyest of congregations should be able to hire a full time pastor to serve the community, ideally in any number of outreach/experimental ministries. Only later on, after the congregation had grown, should a building be considered. While James Glasse book was written 45 years ago, when 10 tithing families could make such happen, today it would take more, yet, such is still well within the purview of a small congregation.

The root cause in most cases is a failure to be missional. Ie. the congregation is likely looking at the building and grounds, and ministry to themselves, rather than to the community, as far as providing for the church to continue. Rather than removing the pastor, should it not make more sense to see off the church assets, keep the pastor, and focus on community and outreach? A building a church does not make.

Of course, the problem is, folks become attached to the building, and its history. Even more so, how many would be outraged, if the church that bought the building held vastly different doctrinal beliefs? Yet, where does Jesus stand in all this? Where do we pick up our cross in this?

Along the same thought process, one might be concerned about a pastor put in that situation… no doubt there will be many nights of second guessing. What could he have done differently? Were there other solutions? Why was the congregation so inreach focused? What about the huge personal investment with the congregation? Did he have no impact? The thing is, congregations can be pretty fickle, and weird… The big thing is, where God’s word is preached, it does not return void. He may never see the results, but for sure, he made an impact. Scriptural words yes, but it doesn’t help with the heartache and second guessing of now.

I read over at Heart of a Pastor last week where he talks about the shifts involved in becoming a Missional Congregation based on a book he is reading. It seems many of the issues in churches removing the pastor are very much in the maintenance domain.

FROM:                               TO:
Maintenance                  Mission
Membership                   Discipleship
Pastor-centered           Lay-empowered
Chaplaincy (Self)         Hospitality (Others)
Focus on ourselves     Focus on the world
Settled                              Sent

My guess is, such issues develop subtlely. Perhaps when a pastor is in one place for too long a period of time? Its the old Adam’s desire to shift more and more of the burden onto the pastor, especially over time. Its the old Adam that wants his own served first. Its the old Adam that wants comfort, familiarity, and safety.A devoted pastor will do just about anything for his congregation within the bounds of scripture. He is doing his best, but he may be doing them harm, albeit totally unaware. Left unchecked for too long, years of inreach eventually will take a toll, such that all resources end up going to maintenance and sustaining efforts, rather than mission…. And then a new pastor is sent in. In short order, he realizes to fix such is going to be an intense uphill battle, and its one he may not be able to win. He can pour his heart into the congregation, only to find out at some point, he is no longer affordable, and is shown the door.

So the solution??? Nip it in the bud… I really liked what Heart of a Pastor had to say.

Are we a missional congregation or are we satisfied with the status quo?  Are we inward focused or outward focused?  Or consider this question:  If this congregation ceased to exist, would the community miss us?

I think if congregations periodically reviewed such questions, they are well on the way towards predicting problems, and heading them off at the pass. As far as congregations that are already embedded in inreach, such should serve as a wakeup call.

Granted, especially in todays climate, there are going to be events well outside the churches domain which can upset the apple cart. Ie, a factory town, should it experience massive upheaval is going to be in trouble. They may well find they end up having to move from missional to maintenance  in no time at all, especially if the town becomes 70% ghost town in a short period of time. The key I think is to keep thinking missional, and be willing to make the hard decisions early, and go forward, rather than waiting until the decision becomes a forced one later on. The other key, is always be running scenarios… how can we remain missional, if something majorly bad happens, even during the times of great church growth.