“Christians Can’t Ignore the World…” -@ktackel

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Hey guys. This post is from @ktackel. I’ve been talking to him on twitter for quite a while now and he seems like a great dude. Probably, cause he seems just like me only smarter. Here you go peeps- a great post by a great guy.–

Today I was reading Acts 17 and it is amazing how Paul uses the local culture of the time to reach people. I think there is a big disconnect in churches about using the culture of the time in church. Well, ok, actually more than a disconnect, there can be major arguments on the subject!

Many churches are using secular songs and video to make a point in relation to a subject they are trying to teach. Now before we go further, I will say secular songs for the sake of doing them, to me has no point, but if they relate to a message I think there can be good reason backed by Paul in this case.

People often think that secular media in church can be seen as sin or just wrong to God but I believe that if we truly want to meet people where they are especially people that are not Christians then it needs to be considered. Starting in Acts 17:16 and onward Paul talks about how he walked around and saw the various idols and how distressed it made him. So I believe in reading that we can’t close our eyes to the world and what is going on, we can be distressed by it, but we should not ignore it.

In Acts 17:28 Paul even quotes a poet of the time to help people relate to his message. So what you say? Poets of that time are like popular musicians, or rock stars of our time. Meaning if a preacher uses lyrics from a secular band for example to make a point relating to the message I believe it is completely biblical, as long as there is a point and it points people back to Jesus.

Not everyone grew up in church, (I was one of them) so it is hard for some people to even darken the door of a church let alone sit through a sermon. Often we can use big words and sing songs that non-believers just don’t know or understand. Using a reference a person may know and understand to help drive a point home could be crucial to a person giving the church another chance and help them feel that, yes, this “Christianity thing” is relevant.

I know there are various arguments on both sides of this but that is where I fall.

I play electric guitar in a worship band and have led at times, but will I play a Maroon 5, Bon Jovi or Linkin Park song? Maybe not, but if the song is fitting like “Somewhere I Belong” (from Linkin Park) I may consider it. But let me say, I will not unless it was decided, not just because it could fit the message, but also if the idea was prayed about by the worship leader/pastor, etc.

For those wondering here is part of “Somewhere I Belong”:
“I want to heal/I want to feel what I thought was never real/I want to let go of the pain I’ve held so long/(Erase all the pain ’til it’s gone)/I want to heal/I want to feel like I’m close to something real/I want to find something I’ve wanted all along/Somewhere I belong”

I think that can be very fitting for a message and admittedly it is an older song but one that people may be familiar with. What about “Crash” from Daughtry? Or how about “On The Way Down” by Ryan Cabrerra? Numerous songs are out there that can fit very well with a message when you listen to the words.

I guess as someone that did not grow up in church, I do want to be reverent in worship, but don’t want to ignore an opportunity to reach someone by, at times, offering them something familiar. I also don’t want to allow old traditions or legalistic religious views to stop us from using the culture where appropriate, especially since it is biblical based on the scriptures above.

What thoughts do you have? Where do you stand? Leave a comment and discuss!

Keith Tackel
Twitter: @ktackel
Personal blog: http://tackelbox.wordpress.com
Also check out http://www.ministrytech.net a site I developed because of my passion to help ministries with technology.

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/prudychick prudychick

    I think there is a fine line in bringing outside culture into church. I'm the opposite of you. I was raised in church and struggle sometimes with things that church's do to bring outside culture in. For me, it's coming down to what are the preaching of Jesus? Are they teaching the Biblical truths of Him and not watering it down or changing steadfast, close handed truths? Of course bringing outside culture into the church has to be done wisely and carefully.

  • http://twitter.com/ktackel @ktackel

    I agree, I never want to engage culture in a way that waters the message down.

    Also I wouldn't want to do secular songs all the time, I know some churches open with a secular song almost every week and I am not leaning that far. My point was after reading the scripture that I mentioned, there is some validity to bring it in as another element, again, if it happens to fit a specific message and is prayed about and agreed upon by the leadership.

    Thanks for the comments!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Coenraad Coenraad

    Having grown up in church myself, and almost being driven out of the church about some of the stupid things we can do to each other and people outside of the church, I am all for bringing in the secular, into church.

    Music is a gift from God. It doesn't matter if you believe or not, it remains something from God. Yes, Satan does use it for his purposes as well, but God created art as a form of glorifying Him.

    Our worship team at church just did a show called 80's Rewind, doing all the great pop and rock hits from the 80's. We have had such great response on the show that we have already done it for another run, with more coming up. The thing is, people come from outside, and they can see that there is something different in you, when you make music. For me, the fact that I can play an instrument pushes me to worship God in just playing my instrument, and that is what is my mission in life. To worship God in everything that I do, not just in church.

    • http://twitter.com/ktackel @ktackel

      Great point about music being a gift from God. I know of a few churches that have done and 80's type service and all have said it has gone over really well. Are you playing secular songs weekly or just for this sermon series?

      Kind of a different topic but one thing I have had to be careful of is making sure my ego is in check since I played in a rock band long before I was playing in church. Making sure I am always in a worship frame of mind.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  • http://twitter.com/slickdrums @slickdrums

    Hey, I totally agree. Am a musician and I was one of those who was never born into a Christian family. And being a Christian now for about 22 yrs, I still feel many churches are inward looking, not kingdom looking. Not that we ought to be "worldly", just that we need to understand (understand, not live according to it) those who are so we can impact the world, touch lives, help those who are in need so that they may experience Jesus.

    • http://twitter.com/ktackel @ktackel

      Good stuff, thanks for chiming in!

  • http://twitter.com/mtnrunnerk @mtnrunnerk

    My way of thinking has really changed over the years and am now at a place that I agree. God has placed us in this world. While we shouldn't be of the world, we live here and to bring people to Christ, we must use what they know. It's hard to lead people to Jesus when they don't understand what we are talking about. Sometimes the language of Christians can be very foreign to unbelievers.

    • http://twitter.com/ktackel @ktackel

      Yep, we do have crazy language sometimes. Even now as a Christian there are some songs that I question the language, not because I don't understand but because it may not be language I use typically. Again, I don't want to abandon those things but I think it is valid to create an entry points even if at times it includes secular songs.


  • http://twitter.com/Smallfryeh @Smallfryeh

    I love what @mtnrunnerk has said here. God calls us to live in this world, but not be of the world. And at the same time, God calls us to see him in everything around us. There is so much in this world that we consider "secular" that can show us connections to God if we look at it close enough. God works in all of us – whether we realize it or not. To completely ignore what's in the secular world is to ignore what God is doing right here in the world that we live in.

    There are a lot of secular songs and movies out there that have made a huge difference in the way I view God – I am so thankful that I can see God in the "unChristian" world.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jackalopekid jackalopekid

    I believe that "secular" media with a good message can definitely be used. I think that it can definitely bring people in that would never step in a church building in the first place. There is definitely a line. Some churches get too close to the "secular" line and have watered down message so they can "relate" and then some churches are just way too old school. What do u think? Is there a line?

    • http://twitter.com/mtnrunnerk @mtnrunnerk

      You really made me think about this. I think it all comes down to what is the purpose of each church. Some churches are only there to minister to believers and have no intention of evangelizing. Others only evangelize. I think there needs to be a balance. While we should be drawing in people who would never step foot in a church, we also need to minister to believers. I think if we get too close to the secular line, we do not encourage and equip our body to be holy as He is holy. But if we are too old school, we do not draw in unbelievers. We don't even draw in Gen X and younger believers.

      Recently I had to find a new church due to a move. I went to quite a few and was not drawn to the old school churches at all. I grew up in an old school church and found I get bored. If I don't want to be there, why would my unbelieving friends want to be there.

      Bottom line, I think we can use secular things in church as long as it always points back to Christ.

    • http://twitter.com/ktackel @ktackel

      I think there is a line, there are some that try so hard to reach people that the message is watered down, they are too afraid to confuse people by music and language and in essence end up not having a message. More of a speech on hope that you can get from almost any speaker. This is not a black and white thing though, that line can move some based on various things like location & demographics I would think.

      In the end I want to hear God say well done and know that where ever I was involved I balanced using a secular reference, if it helps, without forgetting to also tell about Jesus in an obvious way.

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  • http://www.randykinnick.wordpress.com Randy Kinnick

    Awesome thoughts. I appreciate your thoughtful "struggle" through this issue and agree that we must make it clear that the gospel is relevant to our culture. You have made a very good point using Paul's example and I believe we are more likely to "hook" the attention of those we're trying to reach if we use something to which they can relate. I appreciate your prayerful and purposeful approach to the subject as well. God's blessings to you as you continue to serve Him and His Kingdom!

    • http://twitter.com/ktackel @ktackel

      Thank you! Its funny, as I read scripture, thought and prayed through it, and wrote the post, I did almost argue with myself at times trying to see both sides to biblically find where that balance is. :) lol

      Thanks again for your comments!

  • @dwfaust

    When I got saved back in the ’70s, my pastor preached against the music and culture of the world… “come out and be ye separate…” was one of his favorite verses. Looking back, I understand that he meant well, but now I think he was a bit extreme. I agree that we need to be different from the world – we do need to be sacred vessels, consecrated for the Master’s use – but we also need to be able to relate to the world. Otherwise how could we ever hope to reach them? Jesus uses parables and occasions of every day life to reach the people that He ministered to – the woman at the well, the Centurian, Niccodemus, etc.

    We need to guard ourselves to not fall prey to the traps of the enemy with regard to worldly music and entertainment, but at the same time, I agree that we can use some of that to make a connection with someone who is still in the world, we should “go for it”. Prayerful consideration must be given, however, and we need to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • http://twitter.com/ktackel @ktackel

      Yep, I went through a period of time where I only listened to "Christian" music, I don't think it was bad per say to do that for a period of time but realized especially after working with High School kids how out of the loop I got. So I started to open back up to it so I knew how to relate better.

      Also with playing guitar, I felt a lot of bands I grew up listening to were part of what influenced my style which I am now using for worship so to totally turn that off I felt was not really the right thing to do either.

      So again, that balance is crucial. I don't listen to everything I used to but I am not blocking it out like I did for a period of time either. In the world not of the world, it is a balancing act!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/RickAGriffith RickAGriffith

    I really liked this post and can say that I completely agree with you. I feel like there are many people who want to have a strict old fashion church. Maybe its wrong, but i relate this to business. Those who don;t adapt to changing times fail to realize that the world is evolving over time. If one is completely against the idea your describing then should we also not eat red meat this Friday? I understand that some people want the feeling of going to a church that makes them feel a certain way and that's fine they will always be out there. But for newer churches that are evolving and still spreading a great message to people in need and relating to them in a way that they more fully comprehend, keep up the good work and god bless.

    • http://twitter.com/ktackel @ktackel

      Thanks, the message does not change but the culture does and we need to relate to a changing generation without changing or watering down the message.

  • http://twitter.com/garycarpenter @garycarpenter

    I play drums, grew up in church, and have changed my opinion on this more than once. I would have no problem with using a secular song to illustrate a sermon topic, but I couldn't see using it as part of the worship portion of the service.. Worship is to be upward looking, about God to God, and exalting him above all else. It's not for us or meant to instruct us (although it probably does both to some extent) it's about us worshiping him. Anything that puts a light on ourselves by definition is not worship, at least not worshiping Him.

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