Friday, August 9, 2013

An Open Letter to Worship Songwriters - Brian McLaren at

As the modern gives way to the postmodern world, we should expect to see a revolution in theology.  Our song lyrics are too seldom leading us into this new territory. They are in some ways holding us back. 

Too many of our lyrics are embarrassingly personalistic, about Jesus and me. Personal intimacy with God is such a wonderful step above a cold, abstract, wooden recitation of dogma.

But it isn't the whole story.

In fact – this might shock you – it isn't, in the emerging new postmodern world, necessarily the main point of the story.

If an extraterrestrial outsider from Mars were to observe us singing in worship, I think he would say, "These people don’t give a rip about the rest of the world, that their religion/spirituality makes them as selfish as any nonChristian, but just in spiritual things rather than material ones."  The scary thing is that even though I don’t think these indictments are completely true … they could become more true unless we take some corrective action and look for a better balance.

The very heart of our identity as the church in the new emerging theology is not that we are the people who have been chosen to be blessed, saved, rescued, and blessed some more. This is a half-truth heresy that our songs are in danger of spreading and rooting more and more in our people.

Every era in history has rich resources to offer, from the Patristic period to the Celtic period to the Puritan period.  When we look at the repetitive and formulaic lyrics that millions of Christians are singing these days, the missed opportunity is heartbreaking.

Sadly, many of our songs lyrics still feel like “clich√© train” – one linked to another, with a sickening recycling of plastic language and paper triteness.  Sometimes I think we’re already a little too happy, excessively happy on a superficial level: the only way to become more truly and deeply happy is to become sadder, by feeling the pain of the chronically ill, the desperately poor, the mentally ill, the lonely, the aged and forgotten, the oppressed minority, the widow and orphan.

The full article is available here