I am very excited to announce the launch of a new ministry intended to help local churches think through issues related to worship, music, culture, and aesthetics. My intent is to provide pastors and other Christians with the necessary tools and resources to come to God-pleasing decisions in these areas.
This newly-designed web site is just the first in a series of steps toward launching this ministry. Soon I will be transitioning from a full-time pastoral position to a half-time position in order to free up time to research, write, travel, speak, and provide resources for churches.
Why I Am Starting This Ministry
For over 50 years conservatives have been fighting against the onslaught of entertainment and pop music in the church. Several men rose to the challenge authoring books, holding seminars, and speaking in churches about Christian music. In many circles this entertainment philosophy of worship has been held at bay, and we can praise the Lord for that.
But there is now a whole new generation of professing Christians who are struggling with some of the same questions and facing new challenges. Some of the issues of this generation are the same as we’ve faced for years. For instance, in a recent beliefnet interview, Chris Sligh, a “Christian Rocker” who was a contemporary of mine at Bob Jones University and recently rose to the spotlight on American Idol was asked, “How do you define Christian music?” Here is Chris’s reply:
I don’t know that I would define Christian music. I don’t know that Christian is an adjective—it’s more of a noun. So, I don’t know that there is Christian music. Christianity defines who I am, so, any music that comes out of me is going to be encapsulated into me singing about my beliefs and religious system.
In other words, any music produced by a Christian is Christian, no matter its content. That’s the same issue raised by Christian Rock advocates in the 80s.
But there are other new challenges with a new generation as well. Many doctrinally-focused churches have thankfully come to the conclusion that an entertainment philosophy of worship is unbiblical. They want to be God-focused; they want to be doctrine-centered. So they are writing and producing and performing a whole new body of Christian music that is God-focused and rich in doctrinal content. The problem is, though, that they have been influenced over the past 30 years to believe that culture is relative and music is neutral, and so as long as the textual content is correct, it matters not what forms of music we use. So now we have a lot of good men endorsing music that has excellent lyrics but pop forms of music. They fail to recognize that although they reject the entertainment philosophy, their thinking has nonetheless been significantly affected by that philosophy.
And, of course, Christians in conservative churches continue to wrestle through these difficult questions, especially young people who perhaps haven’t been exposed to a whole lot of teaching on these subjects. The rapid growth and influence of the internet and blogs and iTunes has also created more difficult challenges for the defense of conservatism.
With this new generation and these new issues, there is a need for a new voice to defend conservatism. One seasoned defender of conservative music told me recently that he feels like his influence and the influence of others like him is waning. An experienced pastor also told me recently that he feels like the men who have fought so hard for so many years are beginning to get tired.
It is for these reasons that I am beginning Religious Affections Ministries. I would like to continue where those godly men left off and maintain the defense of conservative worship in our churches. I have been serving as an Associate Pastor in a local church, and so I know the practical challenges that we are facing. I have spent much time over the past several years studying, writing, and teaching on these issues in local church contexts, and I would like to continue that ministry–except on a broader scale. Already over the past several years I have been invited to speak at conferences and local churches in the US and other countries, and I have a growing burden to give my full attention to the defense of conservatism. I recently completed a book on these issues that will be published within the year, and I would like to further promote these ideas through this new ministry.
As I mentioned, I will continue to serve as a Pastor of Worship in a local church, and that will support about half of my living needs. I could attempt to fund the other half exclusively through love offerings and sales while traveling. However, as I was discussing this ministry with Pastor Mark Minnick, he wisely counseled me that when a ministry “needs” meetings and sales in order to survive, there is always the temptation to compromise.
Therefore, I am asking for “missionary” support from a small group of like-minded churches to provide the other half of the living expenses for my family. I am hoping to keep this list of supporting churches to a minimum. My goal is to raise about $30,000 in annual support ($2,500 per month), which will cover half of the living expenses for my family, medical insurance, and other basic needs. I am praying that churches will consider supporting me for around $400-500 per month, which will allow me to keep the number of supporting churches to under 10. Money from love offerings, honorariums, and sales as I travel will all go toward funding the ministry itself.
If you see a great need for the defense of conservative worship in our churches like I do, I hope you will prayerfully consider what your church can do to help defend it across the country and the world.
Stay tuned as I unveil other developments for this ministry over the next several months!