I love Christian folks. They can be so solemn, and silly, benevolent, a tad judgmental, forgiving, charitable, pensive, opinionated, give you the shirt off their backs, chastise if need be and love you like a long lost cousin from Paducah. What sets Christians apart—so many of them can do most all of these things at the same time!
Some of the quiet ones say they don’t dance. But I’ve seen’em jump folding chairs at tent meetings out on the Cherrywood Cemetery Road. Yet others say “speaking in tongues” is a first century church phenomenon and is no longer necessary given our modern understand of the Word. Shoot, I’ve heard sermons as recently as last week that sounded a bit Greek-ish to me. Or at least they contained enough Ecclesiastical insipidities to render them unintelligible.
What has caught my attention in the Christian world lately is the dividing up of the church service. You’ve seen the signs I’m sure in church yards from Carrabelle, Florida, all the way up to Union City, Tennessee, advertising a “Contemporary” service at 8:30 a.m. and the “Traditional” service at 11:00.
This thing has caught on all over the South. Now, I can’t speak for those Christian souls living above the Mason-Dixon Line. I believe there is such a thing as a Northern Baptist but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one. But listen, between the Hard Shell and Free Will, we’ve already got enough different type Baptists down here that you need a scorecard to tell them apart. And now, you tell me we’re adding contemporary and/or traditionalist to the list!
I don’t believe for a minute this “two service thing” is a Baptist invention. You know how un-innovative they are!
And I’m not sure if it is solely contained in the Methodist Church. Or if it has spread to the United Methodist. Or to the First United Methodist. Or the Methodist Episcopal Church. Or the Wesleyan Methodist. Or the Primitive Methodist. Or the African American Episcopal Methodist…..
Of course, it was predestined to be in the Presbyterian service.
And you can take a breath here, ’cause I am not about to branch (no pun intended) into the various and different associations of Assembly of God churches out there.
I’m trying to tell you this latest Christian trend seems to be non-denominational. Or should I say, multi-denominational. The point is I’m not picking on your church…..so don’t quit praying for me.
But I do have a few questions about this relative new arrangement. Does the pastor have to prepare two sermons? Is there a contemporary version of the “woman at the well” story that somehow differs from the traditional text? Is the King James Bible permitted in the earlier service? Can you have drums at the 11 a.m. meeting? In those churches in the mountains of East Tennessee and North Georgia, do you have to stir up and pass around the snakes twice?
You would think the contemporary service would be much shorter. The choruses they sing only contain seven words. But then, when you repeat each line twenty-nine times I guess that could s-t-r-e-t-c-h things out a mite. Is there a hip-hop hymnal? Do they replace the chandeliers with strobe lights?
I’m afraid to comment on the traditional side of this thing. You know how defensive they get. Plus, I might wake some of them up! They haven’t sat in a different pew since Eisenhower got elected. Change for them is singing the Doxology before the offering…..instead of after it. ’Course, much of the congregation is just trying to hang on for the “dinner on the ground” after church.
Are age requirements an issue in this deal? Would a parishioner get confused if he attended both services? Do you double the pastors’ salary? I wonder if it matters to him what class of sinners he’s preaching to. Does his wife and children have to be at both meetings?
The questions we ought to be asking are they singing, “There’s Pow’r in the Blood” at any of these services anymore. Can we see the fourth man in the fire? Could we withstand the storm of life whipping across the Sea of Galilee? Are our hearts and souls—be it 8:30 or 11:00—being challenged, stirred and moved to get beyond talking about Jesus, reading about Jesus, singing about Jesus……and start LIVING like Jesus!
God may have the hardest job here. He’s got to change from contemporary to traditional in less than an hour. But believe me, He can handle it! If we’re serious and sincere He can hear us over the drums…….and before, after or during the Doxology.