Music in the Church

MUSIC IS AN ART FORM
Art is basically a physical process. Keys are pressed, notes written onto paper or sung into a microphone. Paint is brushed onto canvas, or objects are arranged in some sort of order. Such processes produce sights and sounds, but physical processes alone do not make art. Spilling a can of paint, shaking a rattle or randomly pressing the shutter button on a camera may produce something artistic, but few would call it true art unless creative thought is involved.

Some people would contend that any expression of thought is an art form, but no one I know argues that all art is of equal value or quality.

We could argue long and hard about what constitutes art and what is not art, but I think all would agree that artistic expression can and must be evaluated in order to classified as art. If no one considers it art, it isn't, but if you think the scribbling of your four-year-old art, it is.

Andy Warhol painted a can of Campbell's Soup that now hangs in a museum and is worth a fortune. The artistic value of his "masterpiece" can be questioned, but Warhol's "pop-art" is nevertheless a legitimate art form that appeals to some.

A sand castle can be considered a work of art even though the next wave washes it away. Not the sand is art, but the castle made of sand. Not everything made from sand is art, however. A bulldozer may move tons of sand around without creating a work of art.

It is a similar situation with sound. Sounds do not make music but music can be made from sound. And not every sound can be called music.

PERSONAL TASTE and PREFERENCE
For most people today, music is primarily for personal enjoyment, but sound vibrations that appeal to one person may annoy another.

Back in the fifties, when diners and fast food became popular, customers fed coins to juke boxes so they could listen to the latest hits. Other customers wanted peace and quiet during their meals, and that created a crisis for restaurant owners. I am told that a clever college student solved the problem. He copyrighted a 45 RPM record of silence for juke boxes that made him rich. The student definitely put creative thought into his invention, but he could hardly be called a recording artist, let alone a musician!

Some music is almost universally accepted and enjoyed. We once attended a concert of the "The King's Singers," a British group that sings without any instrumental accompaniment. People of all ages and classes enjoyed the concert, even giving a standing ovation.

There is also music which some can barely tolerate. A friend told me that bagpipe music reminds him of his school days, when the teacher's chalk screeched on the blackboard.

My wife and I enjoy most Christian hymns, choruses and songs, but dislike constant repetition of almost meaningless choruses currently popular in many churches. We attend most concerts of the Pitman Hobo Band because there is no charge for admission and the Hobos play a lot better than they look. Another reason is because my Uncle was one of the founders of the band. In May, 2007, we enjoyed a concert of the world-famous Johann Strauss Orchestra under the direction of Andre' Rieu in Atlantic City. We like to sing, listen to CDs and attend both Christian and secular concerts. We do have our personal preferences, however. I like country, bluegrass and some of the sixties style music of Simon & Garfunkel, the Beach Boys and The Kingston Trio. My wife would rather hear accordion or classical music.

Certain age groups are noticeably missing at some of the concerts we attend, and many of those present have white hair or none at all. There are reasons for this, but they have little to do with the quality of the music. When I was a teenager, I preferred rock 'n roll or rhythm and blues to the fox trot and big band records my parents listened to. People tend to like "their" music long after it becomes old-fashioned. I still get nostalgic when I hear the Platters or Peter Paul and Mary.

It's the same with other things. As a teenager, I liked hot rods and custom cars, but my younger brothers were more into muscle cars of the sixties. That is why most of the people at car shows have white hair or none at all. Harley Davidson bikers may wear jeans, leather jackets and grow beards, but they are mostly senior citizens.

I am at a loss to even guess what kind of nostalgic yearnings today's youth may have five decades from now. Cars all look alike today. Kids do texting and play video games, but i-phones and X-Box hardly seem like viable candidates for 2070 collectors. Many older folk wear hearing aids, but these kids' eardrums will be totally destroyed by the time they reach our age.

Still, you can't argue with a person's preference or taste. Most people like ice cream and few like liver. My wife likes horse radish and I like peanut butter. Cats are always cleaning their fur while dogs love to roll in cow manure. It's a matter of personal preference.

Because it is a fruitless task, I will not spend any time here trying to define what is good music and what is bad based on my own preferences. Preferences do not determine what is art, let alone good or bad art.

GOD and MUSIC
Tastes and preferences play a major role in church music, but to date, no clever student has come up with a satisfactory solution for churches. I have given the matter some serious thought, however.

It is technically possible to copy major airlines and install video screens and earphone jacks on the back of seats or pews. There could be various channels with options for music style, language and sermon preference. This would eliminate the need to provide multiple services with traditional, contemporary and blended music.  Because younger persons like to clap their hands and seniors are prone to shout "amen" during the sermon, certain restraints would be in order, but the idea just might catch on.  On a recent flight, I noticed a credit card swiper next to the screen to pay for films. This could be used instead of passing collection plates.

Sounds were created by God and have always been an important part of life. Birds and animals make various sounds. The brook babbles while waterfalls and the surf roar. From the buzzing of busy bees to thunder and lightning, nature makes sounds.

And people make sounds. Man was given a voice and soon learned to sing. Earliest known civilizations made musical instruments. From the cradle to the grave, people sing, play and listen to music.

Music plays an important role in scriptures and throughout church history. One fact that few Christians are aware of, is that unrehearsed, harmonious communal singing (we call it congregational singing) is practically unknown outside the Christian church. And within Christianity, singing is most common in groups of believers who have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In liberal churches or where the gospel is not clearly preached, music tends to be liturgical and rehearsed. Singing together for the joy of making music soon diminishes where personal relationship with God and each other is not emphasized.

In my opinion, the trend away from singing hymns to repetitive choruses led by worship teams and accompanied by amplified instruments is an indicator of the spiritual condition of churches.

SATAN and MUSIC
Destroying, desecrating, counterfeiting and prostituting good things is an effective method that the devil uses to accomplish his purposes.

If possible, Satan would gladly destroy all that is good and replace it with the worst of the bad. But his main objective is keeping people under his influence and away from God, and even bad people don't like rotten apples. If you burn a masterpiece, it is destroyed and ceases to be art. No one will buy it or even accept it for free. Because most people do not easily accept the obviously bad stuff, the devil must resort to other methods to peddle his wares and seduce victims. His most common tactics are distortion, counterfeiting and prostitution of that which is inherently or originally good.

1) Desecration or distortion of that which is good appeals to those with rebellious hearts. They push at accepted rules and limitations, delighting in life on the edge. We can most clearly observe this in the fashion world. Even in churches, we see women parading their sexuality in clothing that borders on or exceeds accepted decency. Deliberate deviation from that which is obviously good music or ignoring accepted standards may enhance the popularity of music but not its artistic or spiritual value. Mixing base, worldly elements into Christian music to make it appeal to the unsaved or carnal Christians is a popular tactic of the devil.

2) A counterfeiter attempts to make a close copy of the genuine article in order to fool people into accepting it. I have seen counterfeit paintings that are undeniably excellent works of art. Satan resorts to counterfeiting especially with those who would not accept that which is obviously wrong. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is an effective tool in winning favor for that religion. "Ave Maria" is without a doubt lovely music, but it lulls Roman Catholics into worshipping Mary rather than God and Jesus.

3) The prostitution of good Christian music is more common than one might think. The dictionary defines prostitution as "the act of offering or devoting one's talents to an unworthy use or cause." The use of music to encourage any unethical, illegal or immoral activity is obviously wrong anywhere, but it is especially abhorrent in the church.

Most people think immediately of money when they hear the word, "prostitution." Businessmen have long recognized that shoppers spend more money when music is played in the background. Secular businesses and singers may prefer worldly "xmas" music, but they are not opposed to singing or playing Christmas carols to attract religious customers. The utilization of music for economic gain is common and not entirely evil. The primary motivation of music producers and manufacturers of musical instruments is to earn profits. Many musicians earn a living from music. Some may consider this a prostitution of music, but before you get too harsh with business establishments, I should remind you that the idea originated in churches. They call it the "offertory." Music is often prostituted where money is involved.

Using good music to promote false teaching is exemplified by Family Radio. Harold Camping uses the best Christian music available to promote his errant religious teachings. Camping even claims that churches and institutions which produce the music he plays are of the devil!

Exceptional talent may be involved, but prostitution of the human body cheapens sexual experience. It is the same with the prostitution of the arts. The artistic value of a statue, painting or a musical work may be great, but when prostituted it becomes a mere marketing tool.

MUSIC'S PURPOSE
Music usually carries some sort of message or has a purpose. If not, it is merely noise, but even then it reveals how the musician feels or what he is thinking. The intention may be to create a mood, deliver a message or simply to entertain. Operas and Broadway shows combine music with drama to tell a story. A mother sings lullabies to her baby. Some dentists have found that patients feel less pain when listening to music. A neighbor of ours was plagued with ferrets in his attic. Someone told him to place a short wave radio up there and tune in some high pitched sounds. The pesky animals left immediately!

Music can be therapeutic. Music that is designed to appeal to the senses, to relax or to energize may or may not be good music. People troubled by difficult life situations may respond favorably to soft, soothing sounds that offer a sense of peace and tranquility. Or they may prefer loud, boisterous sounds that drown out their misery. Elevator music keeps people from getting claustrophobia, and airline passengers are less nervous on takeoff if music is playing.

Church music can also be effectively used to create a desired atmosphere in preparation for a message and for other situations. Using music for therapy does not prostitute it unless the purpose is wrong.

MUSIC IN CHURCHES
Disclaimer
I don't like classification based on casual observations of a few individuals. Generalizations may be legitimately made in cases where many people have observed the same thing and come to the same conclusion. But even in such cases, we must be careful to allow for exceptions to the rule. We must be especially careful not to judge a person's motive or intent.

When I speak of "worship music" and "worship teams" in the following paragraphs, I am referring to a noticeable trend that is fairly typical but certainly not all inclusive. Many members of church worship teams might agree with my observations of the movement, yet disagree with the conclusions that I have drawn. I hope to avoid passing judgment on anyone's motives and welcome any open discussion on the part of those who disagree.

FROM WORD to WORSHIP
For decades, many of our evangelical churches were weak on praise and worship. The emphasis was on “doing” rather than “being”; on man’s accomplishments rather than on God’s unique attributes. Along came the charismatics, who reintroduced praise and worship. They grew while mainstream evangelical churches criticized.

Eventually, evangelical Christians learned that worship and praise belong in the church. The course correction was needed, but in many churches today, we can witness an over-reaction. Worship leaders and musicians are more important than pastors, teachers and spiritual counselors. The investment of time and money is rapidly shifting from ministry of the Word to worship.

It must be understood that certain elements of the church are of utmost importance and dare not be neglected, while others are secondary or even trivial. Music is Important, but not Indispensable. Like a picture and its frame, music belongs to the periphery and should draw attention to that which is most important.

Music is a great and important ministry in the church and an effective tool in evangelism. People can be saved or blessed in Christian concerts, but it is not the music which convicts of sin and brings salvation. It is God's Word. Although music played a role in both the Old and New Testaments, I believe it is safe to say that music is not absolutely indispensable in churches and in evangelism. We cannot say that about God’s Word. There are only two references in the New Testament, which encourage Christians to make music. Both are closely associated with the teaching of God’s Word.

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit, Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:17-21)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)

WORSHIP IS "IN"
In the past two or three decades, music has become a divisive issue in many churches. In the beginning, only isolated churches in some mainline denominations experimented with modern music styles. In most cases, the churches involved were facing a crisis. Young people were leaving and older members slowly dying out. Today, few churches remain unaffected by the so-called "worship wars."

Recently we attended a piano concert of a musician who has composed and arranged many numbers familiar to Christians across the nation. We thoroughly enjoyed his concert, but I had to disagree with a statement that he made. He defined worship as "intimacy with God."

When I got home, I got out my concordance and looked up the word "worship." In most places where worship is mentioned in the Bible, the worshipper recognizes God's holiness and his or her own unworthiness. The worshipper is often struck with fear and falls on his face. Job even rent his mantel.

That pianist probably gets intimate with his wife occasionally, but I seriously doubt that it involves falling on his face and admitting his own unworthiness!

The heathen worship idols, the sun and stars. Isaiah speaks of men worshipping moles and bats! That doesn't sound like intimacy to me.

The dictionary defines intimacy as close association or familiarity. Worship is defined as a reverent expression of love and allegiance. I prefer the dictionary definitions even though it's definition of worship does not completely fit examples given in the Bible.

THE TYPICAL WORSHIP TEAM
I have no problem with a person or team leading a congregation in singing, but problems surface when you add floodlights and many decibels!

We attended a fundraiser sponsored by a Christian organization for its supporting constituency. The banquet took place in a luxury hotel. Ladies were dressed in long evening dresses and men in suits. The tables were set with crystal glassware and seven pieces of silverware. When it was time for the program, four musicians filed onto the stage like a bunch of disorganized bums. One was wearing jeans with torn knees; another had slacks and a sport shirt with open collar and arms rolled up. Two guitarists with low slung instruments and scrubby two or three day beards took their places. Then came a girl wearing tight jeans and a daringly low décolleté. Finally, the drummer sauntered onto the stage with long un-kept hair and his shirt tail hanging out. After rearranging his instruments, he sat down and the band began to play.

I thought, "What would people think if I came to the banquet looking like the members of the worship team?"

Many worship teams, like secular rock bands, seek to become the central focus of attention. They are on stage and their instruments and voices are amplified. They expect applause and recognition. They dress and act to draw attention to themselves. The biggest difference between some Christian worship teams and secular bands is that worldly groups don't try to convince you that they are glorifying God.

Typical worship team members seem to have one interest. They want to make their music. If they get applause, they are happy, but nothing bothers them more than criticism, regardless of who gives it or how its presented.

Satan uses good things to lead people into sin. The people pictured in sex magazines and advertisements for alcohol and cigarettes, for instance, are always the finest specimens of humanity. They are healthy, strong and good-looking. It shouldn’t surprise us that the devil seeks to use talented, good-looking Christians to further his purposes in the church whenever possible. He can do nothing to harm the church from without, but if he gets his foot in the door, he can do a lot of damage. Attempting to attract others to Christ with sex, worldly music and other questionable means is a typical ploy of the devil and certainly not of God!

Because many older Christians have little scriptural knowledge and are worried that young people are leaving the church in large numbers, they condescend and permit just about anything.

THE WORSHIP BAND
Worship team musicians are often like the instruments they play. The capability for producing good music is there, but one never knows what kind of sound will come out of them. Although worship teams may use many kinds of instruments, keyboards, drums and guitars are practically mandatory.

Keyboards
The manufacturers of keyboards have one selfish interest -- they want to sell keyboards. It is not the audience that buys keyboards but musicians. That is why the attractive side faces the musician. The audience sees only the posterior with all of its plugs and accessories. And as with pickup trucks, the brand name is also emblazoned on the backside in large bold letters.

Drums
As a rule, the drums are located on center stage to the rear. Sometimes the drummer sits in a sort of cage so the noise isn't overpowering, but it is always made of transparent material. Gestures, facial expression and posture are just as important as the sounds a drummer makes. As with the keyboard, the large drum has its ugly backside facing the audience.

The most common utterance of a young person when speaking to an older person is, "I'm bored!" When young people get bored, they look for excitement -- and noise. As a teenager, I liked rock n' roll music and loud mufflers. My parents did not share my tastes and I tried not to offend them. Kids still like noise, but few of them show concern for the tastes of their parents and older Christians.

Guitars
A worship band normally has a lead guitarist and another person playing the bass guitar. Other guitars are optional. The guitar is slung low and held to look sexy.

THE MUSIC
A Christian musician lecturing at an international worship conference in Holland claimed, "There is no such thing as good and bad music. Music is neutral." After reading this in a newsletter, I saw that person and challenged him on his assertion. I asked him if he purchased music CDs based solely on the price. He didn't of course. I followed by asking what criteria he used in buying music. He said he bought music he liked. Music he didn't like was not necessarily bad. Knowing that he was a music teacher, I asked how he graded his students. He was forced to admit that there are good and poor musicians, but continued to argue that music is neutral.

I explained that letters of the alphabet are neutral, but as soon as you put them in a specific order, they make a statement. Some people take God's name in vain to show their contempt for God, religion and Christians. We certainly wouldn't consider that neutral!

Like letters of the alphabet, musical notes are neutral, but when arranged in a certain order, the neutrality disappears. He agreed with that statement but still insisted that all music is neutral and can be used in worshipping God.

In this paper, I am not attempting to identify good and bad music. I will leave this job to trained musicians. Nor do I insist that only worldly rock music is wrong. Even the best of music can be wrongly used. Christians can be lulled into spiritual apathy or mesmerized by good music that they constantly listen to on their radios, CDs and I-pods.

THE PSYCHOLOGY
When you listen to the gushy words of the worship team leader, it all sounds so heavenly. The only professed desire of the worship team is to worship God and encourage others to do the same; “We want to see only God and lift him up and magnify him; Let’s get our eyes off ourselves and the world around us and draw near to God” is a typical statement.

The first hint that something is amiss can be seen in mannerisms which draw attention to themselves rather than to God. As I already mentioned, music belongs to the frame that should draw people's attention to the central point of focus -- God and his Word. Worship music normally does exactly the opposite. It distracts from the Word and draws attention away from the Head of the church, Jesus Christ, focusing instead, on the musicians.

I am reminded of the two men praying in the Synagogue which Jesus described. One was a wretched sinner seeking forgiveness. He was off in a corner, probably looking at the floor or even lying prostrate. The other was a Pharisee who stood center stage with his eyes and arms lifted heavenward so that all could see how holy he was. Jesus exposed the Pharisee as a hypocrite.

A special breathing technique is used by singers in many worship teams. Sounds are formulated with a maximum of air and minimum of hard consonants. The latter are generally avoided by those who compose modern worship songs, and if a song contains hard consonants, singers know how to suppress them. The trick is allowing a maximum of breath to escape while holding the microphone close to the lips to compensate for the consequent loss of volume. Modern amplification systems make anything possible and the person at the sound console is important.

Another popular psychology is alternating between soft and hard music. Recently, we attended the mission conference of a well-known Bible college. The main sessions were dominated by musicians, who in turn were led by a worship leader. The Worship Team didn’t seem to care what the speaker’s subject was in its choice of songs, but it knew how to move the crowd of young people by alternating between soft breathy worship songs and loud eardrum-blasters.

I wish I had taken a video camera with me to film one scene in the auditorium of that Bible College. Many students were not singing and some who were, seemed in a trance with their hands in the air and their eyes closed. A girl in tight jeans and a sweater that exposed several inches of bare belly was twisting and gyrating to the music with her arms stretched heavenward. The college President, dressed in a dark pinstriped suit and holding his briefcase at his side, was standing solemnly with his wife in the row just ahead of the girl. The contrast was striking!

It is not just a new trend in music, but an entirely new concept of “doing church” which forms the foundation of the worship movement. The New Testament church was a group of believers who committed to follow Jesus and his teachings. The new movement seeks to make the church a semi-religious theme park that even unsaved people can enjoy.

Just this morning (November 5, 2009), I received the following in an email sent mostly to such churches and Christian workers.

"It's not too late. Don't stay stuck with an expensive, hard-to-use solution when you can switch from your existing presentation software to EasyWorship 2009 and get a site license, free technical support and powerful new features for just $199. As a bonus for making the switch, you'll get a free media kit that includes $300 in popular media from producers like Floodgate, Hyper Pixels, Igniter and more."

Although there is nothing morally or spiritually wrong with this ad, it symbolizes the shift to entertainment in many churches.

THE METHODOLOGY
The so-called worship movement has taken many churches and training institutions hostage. Pastors, deacons and church members give in to the demands of the worship team. Church leaders and members fear being labeled legalistic, old-fashioned or selfish, so they submit either willingly or grudgingly to the worship team's wishes and demands. Once worship leaders become firmly entrenched in a church, they begin to use their position to control other aspects and ministries. Ultimately, those who don’t fall into line, start looking for another church, but finding a church that is not controlled by a worship team is getting increasingly difficult.

We have personally observed this scenario in many of the churches we have visited. Several of our faithful supporter churches have fallen prey to worship teams. In nearly all these churches, the teaching of the Word and missions emphasis gradually took a back seat until they became mere vestiges of the past.

Worship teams generally don’t see themselves seeking control of the church any more than spoiled kids are aware that they seek to control their parents to get what they want. They feel that what they want is good and right. Members of worship teams will readily and honestly tell us that they only seek to glorify God. How could any Christian criticize their efforts to serve the Lord with their gifts! I am not in any way questioning the motives of worship team members or church leaders. But I contend that many are unknowingly being lulled into a false movement and used of the devil.

One of the main arguments for worship teams and modern worship music, is that the church must go this route if it wants to reach (or keep) young people. Another argument that we frequently hear is that the old hymns are out-of-date.

To the former argument, I ask if the ends justify the means. There are many other things that young people like and dislike. Some churches have offered Bingo for years and others now include big screen television coverage of the Super Bowl or NASCAR races when they fall on a Sunday. Free beer may be next.

People who don't like hymns have reasons for this. They feel that they are old-fashioned and no longer relate to modern people on the street. I ask why they don't write good up-to-date hymns with four-part harmony? The music that has replaced hymns leaves much to be desired. Many worship choruses have few words and little meaning. The text is projected onto a big screen without the music. This makes it difficult to sing a new song and almost impossible for people to sing parts. Kids grow up never learning to read notes.

Many worship teams are not concerned about this, however. It's all about being seen and heard (-worshipped!).

I recently attended the Christmas Program of a large evangelical church on the west coast. The church worship team put on an elaborate musical performance including a paid professional musician. Half the musical numbers were secular songs including “He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.”

DOES THE BIBLE HAVE NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT CHURCH MUSIC?
A major reason for worship wars is the sad fact that few pastors know much about music and worship leaders have little Bible knowledge.
I doubt that anyone can adequately define what is good and what is bad music. The Bible makes no attempt to do this either, but it sets certain standards and gives us guidelines for all subjects, deeds and relationships. Music is not excluded.

First of all, everything is to be done decently and in order. We shouldn't need a biblical injunction to tell us that music should be appropriate for the occasion, audience and surroundings. Even worldly musicians don't need to be told that different kinds of music are played at funerals and weddings. There are many passages of scripture that teach and demonstrate this principle, but not a few worship teams seem to think that any music is appropriate in the church.

The message of music must be in line with scriptural teaching. The hymn “Just as I am” is appropriate as an invitation hymn, but the popular worship song, “Come just as you are to worship” is not scriptural. Christians are commanded to prepare their hearts for worship. We should enter into God’s presence with respect and awe. We should search our hearts for anything that may hinder fellowship and seek forgiveness. We should enter into his presence with clean hearts.
One big reason why music divides churches, is the false understanding of the church and its purpose. The church is not a building, but rather the body of Christ, the believers. The purpose of a church is not to attract the unsaved, but to prepare Christians and send them into the world as witnesses. Churches that have gotten swept up in the worship movement, often called "seeker churches," or "emergent churches," are generally careful not to offend or embarrass anyone. Political correctness is very important. A person who even hints that something could be wrong and unscriptural is quickly reprimanded as being judgmental, legalistic and unloving. Members try not to talk, act or look too much like Christians because they think it might keep others from attending.

We are called upon to tell the nations of God's attributes and proclaim his salvation to the lost. When Christians proclaim the gospel faithfully to a lost world, they may be ridiculed or persecuted, but hardly applauded.

Paul wrote that there may be nothing inherently wrong with meat that was offered to idols, but he warned against disregarding another person's convictions. God desires harmonious relationships and harmonious music. Making music that unnecessarily divides Christians and disrupts fellowship is unscriptural.

There are many other passages which could be mentioned here, but any honestly seeking Christian can discover what God thinks of this matter if he or she desires to be consequent and do God's will (John 7:17).

THE DEVIL'S KITCHEN
Satan knows very well how the Holy Spirit works in hearts and what appeals to fleshly appetites. God's Word gives us the essential ingredients of the true Christian church.

God's Word
The Bible is no longer a basic ingredient in the worship movement. Church programs, including those for children and youth, have become music and entertainment oriented. If the pastor reads something from the Bible, he uses a paraphrased version and keeps the Bible out of sight.

Prayer
Prayer meetings have never been as well attended as other services, but in most churches today, there is little room for prayer. Prayer meetings have all but vanished. The larger the church, the fewer prayers are offered. Few Christians have a personal time of Bible study and prayer each day.

Fellowship
Another essential ingredient of the Church of Jesus Christ is fellowship of the believers. There is less opportunity for fellowship in a large church. It is not uncommon for regulars to attend a service with 2,000 others and not recognize a single person they know. Any fellowship that takes place in the church is confined to small groups, but these too lack the essential ingredients of a healthy church. Because churches are trying to attract unbelievers, they are little different from any other worldly groups. Music belongs to this category, but the music in many churches tends to divide Christians rather than enhance fellowship.

Accountability
A healthy church must teach obedience coupled with accountability. In larger congregations, no one knows much about what others do during the week.

Ralph V. Harvey
November, 2009