Drinking Deeply

Thursday, May 12, 2005 at 3:26 PM

Newsong(1)

I'm just going to describe as much as I remembered and then give my reasons for recommending that FiCS not go back to Newsong in future years.

We get there, and the first thing that strikes us is how many people there are. The church is huge. Lots of people from all backgrounds and ages. We walk inside and the first thing we notice the large screens on the walls in the waiting rooms displaying what we eventually realize is the pastor giving the message. We also notice the large numbers of computers around the side of the room that display information and links about what's going on at church.

I immediately notice the small bookstore to the side and peruse the books. No authors I recognized but I was mainly looking for a lack of one specific book: The Purpose Driven Life. Looking on the shelves it didn't look like they had it, so I was pretty relieved. Then I turned around and saw it displayed prominently on their counter right next to the cash register.

Immediately, a flag went up but I figured it was just one Sunday, and it's not like I have nothing to learn, so whatever.

Walking back out to the waiting area, they're doing their closing set and the screens are displaying the musicians who are singing, drumming, and whatever. Kind of creepy (who are we worshipping again?). Eventually we walk inside.

Worship set is much the same, gigantic screens to the left and right displaying the lyrics and zooming in on the singers. Sometimes it would change into a visual background but the focus (of the cameras at least) seemed to always be on the people. The songs were songs that we all knew, but I was very uncomfortable. I wondered what exactly the message was going to be on, especially with such a view of a people-centered worship. Since we had a number of seekers in the group, I hoped and prayed that the message would be glorifying to God.

After the worship set, the (presumably, but I'm not sure) head pastor welcomed everyone, made some annoucements and then told us we were in for a treat because this week was wrapping up the series on marriage and relationships. Because of that, the worship team put together a medley of popular love songs for us.

So we sit there and listen as people get on stage, all very professional. They were remarkably gifted and just basically covered a lot of pop culture songs. something about measuring a year. name of love... all this other stuff. This lasted about 15 minutes (but it felt like forever). Don't get me wrong, they were talented, but I wondered (again) what the purpose of something like this was. Was it just to showcase their talents? "reward" the audience for bearing through a series on dating and relationships? Entertainment? Why was this church so focused on entertaining?! The very bad feeling only got worse and worse as I realized that there was no message behind this music, just ... contemporary love songs, which yes, demonstrate our need for Christ, but this was never touched, never talked about, they got up there and sang... for no justifiable (by Scripture) reason at all. I was about ready to walk about a couple times, and this was one of them.

Ok, so the music stops and everyone's clapping and cheering. Finally they introduce the speakers (a recently married couple) and they sit down and the guy says: Well, first we're going to show you a movie!

Ummm ok... fine. So they display a movie they showed at their wedding that was just basically poking fun at the wedding planning and stuff, showing how the wife was basically doing everything and the guy was not doing anything, just a lot of humor. Ummm ok. I wondered again just how much they revered Scripture.

Finally the movie ends (another 10 minutes or so of just... entertainment). They have the message online here (click on "Beyond Puppy Love). They sit down and start talking about their marriage. Different struggles they went through, the experience of getting married the "high" and the "lows."

Periodically they referenced the "passage" for that day: Psalm 103:1-5, but the translation they kept using was a paraphrase (which I found to be NLT). Don't get me wrong, the paraphrasish translations are great for just free reading and sharing with children or people new to Scripture, but in my opinion they are not suitable for preaching or in depth Bible study. There is too much interpretation, re-phrasing, and sometimes just the introduction of ideas that are completely foreign to Scripture itself.

The speakers share about what happened in their marriage, their relationships, different stories. The periodic references to a passage that seems to speak nothing about the topic only serve as interjections as opposed to Truth. I was thoroughly disgusted. There was nothing of value that I got out of the talk. Scripture was viewed as something that was entirely not relevant, or at least not "as" relevant as other things like "personal experience."

Oftentimes the speakers would reference what was necessary to "go the distance." I wondered what the purpose of the relationships they were building were. Was it to "go the distance" and get married? When did Paul ever talk about relationships in the context of "going the distance"?

They talked about counseling, which is a good idea... if it's biblical counseling. The core of our brokenness with one another is our brokenness with God and if we try to go to secular counselors to fix that, it isn't going to happen. Another point they completely neglected (or didn't think was "relevant")

I was ready to walk out about 3 times, but I figured it would be disrespectful, so I hung out till the worship was over. Thoroughly disgusted and not amused at the complete disregard for God's name, His truth, His Word.

Newsong church, in that one occasion, demonstrated to me just how far off "seeker-sensitivity" really was from Scripture. The church attempts to conform to culture, and in doing so becomes "of the world." The church tries to attract the culture of the world, to be appealing by usage of entertainment, flashy (and contemporary) music and gifted artists. They try to display movies and share about their personal experiences, all because of a belief that Scripture is not sufficient. I caution anyone who attends a church like this, a church that tries to conform to society's demands instead of to God's demands. I urge you to speak out for the truth and purity of God's Word. I urge you to obey God's commands in 1 John 2:15-16)

15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world-- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world.

This is why I would not recommend Newsong for next year. Without a dramatic reformation (in accordance to Scripture), there is little to none to be learned for a culture like this.

I know this sounds overly harsh, so feel free to email me or IM me if you want to talk more.

A relevant link: Seeker Sensitivity

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