Grow your numbers while losing the Church – Host a techno-mass!

November 12th, 2011 Post by

I read this in the local Cheyenne paper this morning.

http://www.wyomingnews.com

At first this may seem like a good compromise – it has the contemporary aspect (really contemporary, not the type promoted by many Americans) and also uses the word “Mass” (which should make confessional types happy as well.   I am joking of course, but as you read the article you see how the Swedes got to this point of Church without its marks (unless you consider music a mark of the church).

Although the author of the article is just reporting, he says some great things that are quite telling about the change in these type of churches which results in no church at all.

+ street dance moves and throwing hands in the air before singing right in front of the altar (center stage is a man, not Christ)

+ instead of prayer and singing hymns, there is a rave

+ disco at youth center rather than a service

+ attracting people rather than converting them

+ looking to “feedback” from people rather than faithfulness to Christ

+ club music is brought in from the world instead of the catholic music of the Church

+ traditional services mean empty pews, techno masses mean turning away people at the door (although the very next line talks about how this second attempt couldn’t live up to that – reflecting the faddish nature of such worship, it loses its followers as quickly as it gained them

+ organs and choirs are replaced with beats and loud approving claps and shouts and cheers (no doubt the person clapping loudest is Satan himself)

+ sitting in the seat or kneeling or standing is replaced with dancing and standing up in the seat

+ ornamented wooden ceilings are masked with disco lights

The end result – people are entertained, not converted.  From the article:

“”It was superfun, it was really kicking, I didn’t think it would be this good before I came,” said Ella Schwarz, 15. “The church isn’t really my kind of thing, but after this it seems like it is great,”"   [the greatness of the church is not Christ or the Gospel, but the music services - sounds familiar with those catechized under contemporary models]

Of course there is also the quote from the all-benevolent forty something who is only looking out for the young people as well.  (by the way, my generation of early thirties like rich tradition and ancient ritual – that is why many of us have fallen into paganism, beside the fact that we were poorly catechized and were allowed to have the world’s preachers as our teachers).

The article does note the fall into apostasy in the Swedish Lutheran Church, noting it as “progressive”.  Jesus would have another word for it.

There is also the token comment of a conservative (politician no doubt, not a pastor or anything).  There is also comment by the “church” that they are a democratic people’s church.  Let the people have what they want and you end up with no church whatsoever.

And just in case you don’t like techno music – you can attend a non-church service with hip-hop, rock, jazz, U2, coptic, animal masses, and even motorcycle masses.

The Old Adam makes poor decisions when we let him choose things in the Church.  He will choose works, he will choose pleasure and entertainment all the time.  That is why it is important to return to the Word of God and allow the Old Adam to be disciplined rather than catered to.  Yes – the same catering can happen with smells and bells.

For those who have used the same language and methods as this techno-mass church – realize that you are opening the door to such things where Christ is absent but the Old Adam is pleased (his master Satan is too!).  Go back and read the Third Article of the Creed and Luther’s description of it one more time…  I believe that I cannot believe – and that goes for all of those who are outside of the church (you know – the slaves to sin and Satan).  Stop letting them (or rather their master) determine what goes on in your church.  If you want to entertain – then entertain.  Just stop doing it in the name of Christ and His Church.

Here are some Scriptures which fit this situation:

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

2 Timothy 3:1-9

2 Timothy 4:3-4

1 Peter 4:3-5

2 Peter 2

Romans 1:26-27

Ephesians 2

Jude 18

 

And thanks be to Christ, there is hope yet for such folks (the same hope we cling to):

Titus 3:3-7

A side note on this article – it is sad that many will read “Lutheran” and assume that is us as well…

 






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  1. Carl H
    November 12th, 2011 at 16:25 | #1

    Pastor Scheer, would you kindly post a prayer that suits these observations?

  2. Pastor Joshua Scheer
    November 12th, 2011 at 16:46 | #2

    @Carl H #1
    Here is one from “Seed Grains of Prayer” by Wilhelm Loehe (available from CPH in their On-Demand section):
    Prayer for the Present Needs of the Church:
    O Lord God, Gracious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who, in times past hast been gracious unto Thy people, to forgive all their sins, have mercy upon Thine own who now feel the burden of their sins and the weight of Thine avenging hand driving them to pray unto Thee. Thou Who didst banish Israel unto Babylon for their sin’s sake, but didst hear their cries and lead them back again into their beloved Zion, behold how we dwell in misery and long for Thy Zion. Yea, Thy poor Church, indeed, is dwelling in Babylon now; and the children of Babylon reside among her children. We who heretofore, in spite of our manifold sins, were united in the word and confession of faith, hear no more the sound of the trumpet-cry of Thy word and the confession which kept our fathers steadfast in Thy truth. We have tarried long, but there returneth not unto us the ancient glory. Schisms and false doctrines have entered in among us, and the disagreements of pastors and teachers have scattered the people. Thus have thousands again become as erring sheep, each looking to his own ways, and all are turned from the true Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, knowing no more to find the way of peace. How shall they have one faith when they hear the one doctrine no more; for faith cometh by the hearing of the word; and now, by false preaching has come false faith, and by manifold teachings must come manifold confessions, schisms, and divisions. How shall they be one in love, one flock and one fold, if they be not one in spirit and in faith? O Lord, how great misery has befallen us, that men scarce recognize Thy Bride; and therefore do the children of death no more gather about her. Where is she? How shall she be found, since Thy signs, Thy light and counsel, Thy pure word, the unity of confession and concord of doctrine have departed from her? O Lord, hear us and all who in these days bring one plaint and one petition to Thine ear, in Jesus’ Name; and since the day is far spent, let there be light even at eventide. Send forth Thy Holy Spirit from high heaven, that He may banish from the hearts of all that love Thee this multiplicity of doctrines and conceptions. Take away from the souls of all who with us eat one bread and drink of the one cup, everything which hinders them from being one in Thy truth. Cleanse, purify, and revive also the hearts of all of us who desire the only true peace of Thy word. Grant us moderation, discretion, and patience with impious souls, and so tear down instead of building up what Thy hand has even yet maintained among us of concord and peace. Especially strengthen all who have yielded themselves unto Thee, to overcome divisions and to seek true concord. Unto all such, grant wisdom, understanding, zeal, and constancy, alert senses and incorruptible hearts, that they be not ensnared in the world’s seeming keenness and glittering temptations. Help, Lord, and grant us success. Cause us to acknowledge Thy ways in the earth, and lead us in Thy paths. Reveal Thy work unto Thy servants, and Thy glory unto their children. The more the world departs from Thee and follows its own ways and modes of thought, so much the more powerfully cause Thy servants to speak Thy word, to defend Thy confessions, Thy doctrine; and, in ever growing circles, cause unity in the Word, and unity of doctrine and faith and confession to increase. As time passes, so increase Thou the assembly of Thy people in one spirit, and one body, unto one desire and one work, to one prayer and one petition, to one battle for Thy peace, which cometh alone through Christ Jesus, Thine only-begotten Son. The oftener and the more frequently we pray, so much the more oftener do Thou hear us and help us who seek and desire naught but that Thy Name be hallowed, Thy kingdom come, and Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
    Amen.

  3. November 12th, 2011 at 22:14 | #3

    (by the way, my generation of early thirties like rich tradition and ancient ritual – that is why many of us have fallen into paganism, beside the fact that we were poorly catechized and were allowed to have the world’s preachers as our teachers).

    Not to mention that most people our age can see through the buffoonery and lies.

  4. November 13th, 2011 at 15:12 | #4

    Pr. Scheer,
    Another passage is quite relevant to the above in all it’s schwarmareistic glory:
    “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”–2 Corinthians 2: 17.
    The Greek word translated “peddlers”, according to Bauer/Arndt/Gingrich (I still have not sprung for the ‘new’ edition) also has connotations of a “huckster of retail trade” and even more: “Because of the tricks of small tradesmen the word comes to mean almost adulterate.” Someone should write a book with title based upon the Joe McGinnis books, “The Selling of the American Gospel”. This is not exclusively a 20th century phenom: see the Rev.Samuel Schmucker of the 19th century.

  5. Walter Troeger
    November 14th, 2011 at 10:24 | #5

    Rev. Scheer, I found your article interesting especially this line “Stop letting them (or rather their master) determine what goes on in your church. If you want to entertain – then entertain. Just stop doing it in the name of Christ and His Church.” My comment might be out of the scope of this post, but isn’t the job of the district presidents is to confront these churches that are promoting pure entertainment and have given up totally on having services that reflect any proper Lutheran Doctrine and Practice? Ex. churches that have stopped using the TLH, LW or LSB in favor of praise bands only?

  6. helen
    November 14th, 2011 at 10:50 | #6

    @Walter Troeger #5
    My comment might be out of the scope of this post, but isn’t the job of the district presidents is to confront these churches that are promoting pure entertainment and have given up totally on having services that reflect any proper Lutheran Doctrine and Practice?

    Dear Walter,
    Where do you think they get these ideas?

    (Did you see any video of the “service” at the 2010 convention? It wasn’t organized by your local confessional liturgical Lutheran church!)

  7. Pastor Joshua Scheer
    November 14th, 2011 at 11:22 | #7

    @Andrew #3
    Indeed, we have been marketed to all of our lives…

    @Pr. Mark Schroeder #4
    Thank you for the good text addition.

    @Walter Troeger #5
    Yes, it would be a part of the ecclesiastical supervisor task to look into such things. The problem is that this has gone on long enough to have standing in our Synod. This “techno-mass” is where it will end up if it goes on unchecked.
    The fact of the matter is that breaking uniformity shows no love to the neighbor within our Synod. Breaking uniformity for the sake of the children of the Devil reveals a horrible understanding of the Church and Her Master.

    @helen #6
    I was a delegate to that convention, saw the “warm up” and “practice” for the service and heeded the advice of a dear friend – if you know something is going to offend you, try to avoid it.

  8. Wallenstein
    November 14th, 2011 at 11:35 | #8

    @helen #6

    Out of my 10% tithe: 2% goes to Synod, and 8% to the District. LCMS districts need your money to fund these Church Growth ideas. Let me give a shout out to all my LCMS Willow Creek Association friends as they continue to ape the non-denominational churches:

    “He gives me 100, I give back 10……….”

  9. Walter Troeger
    November 14th, 2011 at 11:36 | #9

    Dear Walter,
    Where do you think they get these ideas?
    (Did you see any video of the “service” at the 2010 convention? It wasn’t organized by your local confessional liturgical Lutheran church!)

    Helen, I was actually there. I was sitting 20 rows from the front, right side. In front of me. I have the order of service from the first day titled, “One People Forgiven.” We first sang “Light High the Cross” as the opening hymn. Next, we had the invocation, confession and absolution…we sang “this is the feast”…salutation of the cross…we read the Nicene Creed..sang “Our Mighty Fortress is our God.” We all received the Lord’s Supper distributed by men/pastors. It was a Divine Service 3 or pretty close page 5 and 15. So I would think the DP’s are not getting ideas from that convention even though there was a few days that co wo was present. However, perhaps you are right. There was co wo present and if the president of our synod, at that time, advocated this form of worship only, then I would think none of the DP’s would stand and tell him that he was wrong. I think they would have to go back to their districts and promote this form of worship and not stop churches from doing it.

  10. Walter Troeger
    November 14th, 2011 at 11:43 | #10

    @Wallenstein #8

    How did you find this video? This was suppose to be a secret. This is the opening act for the next convention! :)

  11. November 14th, 2011 at 12:05 | #11

    This is pure conjecture. I am wanting to put a spin on this. Maybe this kind of activity shames us as Christians to do things the “right” way and the extreme. In a way it seems like the yurodivy or fools for Christ in the Russian aesthetic tradition. For example, St. Basil the Fool for Christ shoplifted and gave to the poor to shame the stingy. He walked around naked wearing chains and rebuking Ivan the Terrible.

    I know this is weird, but maybe our reaction to this behavior is the Holy Spirit causing us to show true liturgical practices to lead the way back from the brink.

    Conjecture over.

  12. mames
    November 14th, 2011 at 20:25 | #12

    @helen #6 http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=12993 check this out it came form the pen of Michigan District Pres. Make no mistake about it the Districts are leading the CG not monitoring it.

  13. Jason
    November 15th, 2011 at 05:41 | #13

    @mames #12

    Hmm… Like the NJJAM? (rhetorical, since I know the answer is yes)

  14. Matt
    November 15th, 2011 at 09:41 | #14

    @mames #12
    In regard to that letter from the Mich DP, I have gotten to the point where the phrase “remembering our rich heritage” immediately sends up red flags all over the place. It seems like whenever Lutherans use that phrase it signals they are about to do something that is totally at odds with our heritage and shreds the foundations of our theology and practice.

  15. Joe Milligan
    November 15th, 2011 at 14:45 | #15

    I suppose we should be impressed that “contemporary” services are up to date with the mid-1990′s now.
    If kids liked it, it’s because anything else they might do for fun is illegal anymore. If they had the option to get out and do their own thing the rest of the week, I’m pretty sure techno-mass would look just like the hippie-ballad services did to us in the late 80′s – completely out of touch.

  16. Wallenstein
    November 16th, 2011 at 16:02 | #16

    @Walter Troeger #10
    And you thought contemporary worship meant guitar and pizza! The behavior of the worship leaders in the video appears forced, shallow, and insincere, doesn’t it. I just don’t understand why district presidents want LCMS congregations to imitate such churches. Young people may be entertained, but they are not fooled by such phoniness masquerading as “worship.”

    @Matt #14
    Anyone familiar with Valparaiso University has seen the phrase “remembering our rich heritage” plastered all over the solicitations for donations. In case you did not already know, (independent Lutheran) Valparaiso supports the entire ELCA agenda. For example, it promotes women’s ordination and gives money to homosexual and muslim campus student groups. Conclusion: Be very, very suspicious of any “Lutheran” organization that promotes its “rich Lutheran heritage.”

  17. Pastor Joshua Scheer
    November 16th, 2011 at 16:18 | #17

    @Matt #14

    @Wallenstein #16

    I will say that our heritage comment can be used many ways. If it is used in the context of “that was then, this is now” emphasizing that times have changed then shuck the phrase out the window. It can be used as a mask for hiding liberal agendas (people use Walther and Luther nowadays like the Romanists, Lutherans, and Calvinists like to use Augustine). Just slap a Luther quote at the end, it will make it Lutheran (nevermind context).

    I have taught “Lutheran Heritage” classes at both of the churches I have served with the purposes of: 1. Teaching our history AND 2. Showing that our beliefs (doctrine) find expression in everyday life (practice) AND 3. Show that God made things happen just so (you can really be thankful and proud to be Lutheran) in order that Lutheranism would exist and thrive.

    By the way, people’s response… “give us more” every time.

  18. helen
    November 16th, 2011 at 16:33 | #18

    @Wallenstein #8
    Out of my 10% tithe: 2% goes to Synod, and 8% to the District.

    My tithe doesn’t all go to District. The congregation supports a missionary and several RSO’s directly, also a church which serves the state school for the deaf here in Austin.
    In my journeyings, I have acquired several Lutheran interests which it is just as convenient to keep on helping as an individual, too. If you don’t have to let your left hand know what the right is doing, I think I’ll be excused if the church finance officer doesn’t know either. :)

    @mames #12
    Mr. Ames, I’ve known that for years.
    This is Texas. :(

    @Wallenstein #16
    Be very, very suspicious of any “Lutheran” organization that promotes its “rich Lutheran heritage.”
    They probably only mean that they are most interested in Lutherans with money.

  19. Wallenstein
    November 19th, 2011 at 23:02 | #19

    Pastor Greg Bearss and his congregation are what Church Growth Movement leaders envision for all congregations in the LCMS:

    http://www.lakepointefamily.com/

    Below is a non-denominational contemporary church service set to techno music. The Swedish Lutherans are not the only ones doing it. Everyone jump in line. It is open communion time:

    The LCMS is always 10 years behind current trends in the Church. Let me give another shout out to my Willow Creek Association Lutheran friends who know the direction in which they want the LCMS to go!

  20. November 21st, 2011 at 07:52 | #20

    @Wallenstein #19 I will state the obvious: the video above must be one of the most frightening videos I have seen in long while. It’s not a technomass but a black mass.

  21. November 21st, 2011 at 10:18 | #21

    In watching the video at #19, and other videos of ‘contemporary’ worship services and the like, I have been struck by the fleshly nature of them. I am reminded of the first chapter of Bonhoeffer’s Life Together, “Community”. It is worth a read or a re-read in regards to what constitutes Christian koinonia. Below is a quote from that chapter and I think it sums up the difference between what is luridly portrayed above and koinonia that is in Jesus Christ alone. As Bonhoeffer wrote, “We are bound together by faith, not by experience”.

    “It is in the deep night that hovers over the sources of all human action, even over all noble and devout impulses. The community of the Spirit is the fellowship of those called by Christ; human community of spirit is the fellowship of devout souls. In the community of the Spirit there burns the bright love of brotherly service, agape; in human community of spirit,there glows the dark love of good and evil desire, eros. In the former there is ordered, brotherly service, in the latter disordered desire for pleasure; in the former humble subjection to the brethren, in the latter humble yet haughty subjection of a brother to one’s own desire. In the community of the Spirit the Word of God alone rules; in human community of spirit there rules, along with the Word, the man who is furnished with exceptional powers, experience, and magical, suggestive capacities. There God’s Word alone is binding; here, besides the Word, men bind others to themselves. There all power, honor, and dominion are surrendered to the Holy Spirit; here spheres of power and influence of a personal nature are sought and cultivated. It is true, in so far as these are devout men, that they do this with the intention of serving the highest and the best, but in actuality the result is to dethrone the Holy Spirit, to relegate Him to remote unreality. In actuality, it is only the human that is operative here. In the spiritual realm the Spirit governs; in human community, psychological techniques and methods. In the former naive, unpsychological, unmethodical, helping love is extended toward one’s brother; in the latter psychological analysis and construction; in the one the service of one’s brother is simple and humble; in the other service consists of a searching, calculating analysis of a stranger.”

  22. Wallenstein
    November 21st, 2011 at 16:45 | #22

    @Pr. Mark Schroeder #21

    I would agree with Bonhoeffer that the Theology of the Cross is superior to the Theology of Glory. The “Should be have a praise band or an organ with a divine service?” debate within the LCMS is outdated. It is no longer a debate about musical preferences. The video in post #19 should be an eye-opener for all Lutherans. Like it or not, all mega-churches are moving in this direction. There is nothing in place to prevent Lutheran churches from becoming like the worst of the non-denominationals (maybe the Book of Concord and the Small Catechism, but if that is ignored?). Why does the LCMS still want to emulate the non-denominational churches?

    2 Timothy 4:3

    I would wager that many (most?) LCMS proponents of the Willow Creek Association have never set foot inside a non-denominational seeker-church to see what really occurs. The congregation in the above video is on the “cutting edge” of the Church Growth Movement. Some congregations have a more sober approach to worship than the one in the above video. However, as non-denominational church doctrine is watered-down and evasive, there is nothing in place to prevent any of those churches from sliding into the abyss of worldly irrelevance.

  23. Mrs. Hume
    November 21st, 2011 at 18:27 | #23

    @Wallenstein #22

    “Like it or not, all mega-churches are moving in this direction. There is nothing in place to prevent Lutheran churches from becoming like the worst of the non-denominationals (maybe the Book of Concord and the Small Catechism, but if that is ignored?). Why does the LCMS still want to emulate the non-denominational churches?”

    The thing that worries me is those churches that have a contemporary service that they promote to the youth. The youth are funneled toward that service. The people who prefer the traditional service have that so that they (and their donations) don’t leave. But it divides and the youth are stuck with the crumbs. Very sad.

  24. November 21st, 2011 at 18:31 | #24

    A friend just sent me this article about this topic:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-suttle/how-to-shrink-your-church_b_1095841.html?ref=religion

    Excerpt: “I once heard church consultant and leadership guru Don Cousins say that you can grow a church without God if you have good preaching, great music, killer children’s ministry, and an engaging youth minister. Cousins should know. He helped build Willow Creek Community Church and the church leadership culture. In the pragmatic church, there is only one question that matters, “What will work to grow my church?”…
    If I’ve learned anything as a pastor, it is this: faithfulness flies in the face of sentimentality and pragmatism, and if you pursue it you have to expect small numbers.”

  25. Wallenstein
    November 21st, 2011 at 22:37 | #25

    @Mrs. Hume #23
    It is all about the money when the pastor is crowned CEO of the congregation. Just ask Rick Warren. Such pastors could have saved a lot of time and money by getting an easy BA in “Religious Studies” at a mediocre “Christian” university instead of going the expensive M.Div. route.

  26. Wallenstein
    November 22nd, 2011 at 10:02 | #26

    Ted Crandall :
    A friend just sent me this article about this topic:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-suttle/how-to-shrink-your-church_b_1095841.html?ref=religion
    Excerpt: “I once heard church consultant and leadership guru Don Cousins say that you can grow a church without God if you have good preaching, great music, killer children’s ministry, and an engaging youth minister. Cousins should know. He helped build Willow Creek Community Church and the church leadership culture. In the pragmatic church, there is only one question that matters, “What will work to grow my church?”…
    If I’ve learned anything as a pastor, it is this: faithfulness flies in the face of sentimentality and pragmatism, and if you pursue it you have to expect small numbers.”

    Now that the ULC has been kicked out of its building, the Minnesota South District can apply the lessons learned from Don Cousins on how to grow campus ministries. Is it possible to grow a thriving campus ministry without God?

    You can grow a church without God? Does anyone see God at work in those videos. The churches in posts #8 and #19 satisfy all the criteria in the definition offered by Cousins and would therefore be considered a success.

    For those proponents of open communion within the LCMS: Do you think the people in the video for post #19 have properly examined themselves before taking communion? Do you think they would if they were to wander in to your church for a visit. How would you know? How can LCMS pastors quickly and discreetly remind everyone how we should approach the table?

  27. MD
    March 13th, 2012 at 23:46 | #27

    While at church, years ago, I brought in some techno music, and sang hymns to the wordless music. It was great, and I became excited about singing because the music sounded great, and I was able to worship Christ in a positive way. I think someone said that the music had to come from the Catholic church. Didn’t Lutherans diverge from Catholic music during the reformation? At that time, tunes became more singable, and easier for the congregation to remember and follow. Also, the congregation was able to participate in the singing, which was different from the Catholic structure. Techno music has many textless pieces of music, which hymns can be set to in order to have a Christ oriented performance. I think it’s a good thing.

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