Back in August 2008, I watched a video of a youthful bishop who, after announcing to his congregation that he would be reading from 2 Samuel 19, then spends the next six minutes or so singing bits of R&B love songs’ lyrics. He sings lyrics from “If I Ain’t Got You,” by Alicia Keys; “Reunited,” by Peaches and Herbs; “Always and Forever,” by Heatwave; “Never,” by Jaheim; and “No One,” by Alicia Keys. What’s more, this R&B song-singing bishop stands in the pulpit crooning with most of the church’s choir and pew sitters in tow. Now, although the bishop in this video occasionally mentions God or Jesus’ name in passing, and although he inserts an amen, a word or two of testimony, slivers of Gospel principles, and he even restates his sermon’s foundational Scripture, in between the aforementioned different songs, it is painfully obvious that he does so merely to make his point, which is that the love songs he is singing are about the Lord instead of the world.
For sure, many of the people who are familiar with the love songs this bishop sings might not find any fault with his method of worshipping God with R&B love songs; some even might say that since the Holy Bible says that God is love then it is okay to sing secular love songs in church worship services; some might even believe that, even though the bishop’s method is more modern than some other worship services’ methods, that God is still being glorified. However, they all would be wrong, because they all have failed to see the bigger picture! They fail to see that whatever pastors and spiritual leaders use to bring the unchurched and unsaved masses into their churches is what pastors and spiritual leaders will have to keep on using in order to keep these unchurched and unsaved masses there.
The people who find no fault with the method this aforesaid bishop is using to lead his congregants into a worship experience also have failed to understand that music cleanses no one. The unadulterated Word of God is what regenerates spiritually dead human spirits, and the unadulterated Word of God is what cleanses sin-sick souls. Therefore, the reason why these people also have failed to see the broader picture is because they have failed to see the sad truth, which is that this bishop and other pulpit preachers like him who are using the music and lyrics from R&B, Rock, Rap, Hip-Hop, Country, or other worldly styles of music, to bring the unchurched and unsaved individuals into their churches only are demonstrating how they (the pastors and other spiritual leaders) have mastered the art of slappin’ Jesus on the lyrics of secular songs. In essence, this bishop and other pulpit preachers like him merely are providing ONLY worldly “entertainment” instead of spiritual nourishment.
Case in point, as the videoed bishop sings his medley of R&B love songs, he not only ends up wooing his more secular-minded worshippers but also succeeds in losing many of his seasoned believers’ attention. This last statement is made evident when this pastor, after seeing the expressions on some of his older and perhaps more spiritually minded believers, admits in the video that he has lost many of his congregants. Then, immediately after he makes this admission, he swiftly segues into an old traditional church hymn (“Near the Cross”). He sings this song, sad to say, more so to appease those members whom he might have offended by his R&B renditions instead of for the purpose of making a joyful noise unto the Lord.
Using the music and lyrics from R&B, Rock, Rap, Hip-Hop, Country, or other worldly styles of music as a “possible” contemporary evangelistic tool is symptomatic of the problem that Christians are experiencing in churches all over the world today. This problem that especially is troubling American churches is the bringing of the world’s ways into the CHURCH specifically through music. Without a doubt, the world is changing the CHURCH instead of the CHURCH changing the world. Therefore, while some people might be able to prove that this videoed bishop’s method would be most effective in the hands of genuine sold out for Jesus the Christ apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, and so forth, who are out in the mission fields, it is more difficult for these proponents to prove how this kind of soul-reaching method would be appropriate for the House of the Lord corporate worship services.
Of course, not every one sitting on churches’ pews is born again and saved. However, the main objective of worship services is to worship Father God in Spirit and in Truth through the faith that comes by hearing the “preached” Word of God (and not necessarily from hearing “sung” hymns, spirituals, gospels, or Christian rock and hip-hop songs). There is of course a time and a place for everything, including a time and a place for using various forms of worship music during worship services. But when the songs being sung during worship services begin to make the worship service sound and look more like the world, then it is evident that the pastors and spiritual leaders using this so-called evangelistic tool in their churches have been deceived by the tricks of the Devil.
That having been said, getting the CHURCH back to worshipping the Lord in Spirit and in Truth should be the main goal of every pulpit preacher. That’s why if contemporary pastors and other spiritual leaders who, in their hope of reaching the youthful unchurched and unsaved individuals who are sitting in their churches, are using the method of slappin’ Jesus on the lyrics of R&B, Rock, Rap, Hip-Hop, Country, or other worldly styles of music, then they need to turn their focus back to prayers, meditations, testimonials, and other tried and true methods that actually prepare hearers’ spirits (hearts) for the unadulterated Word of God.
Once again, getting the CHURCH back to worshipping the Lord in Spirit and in Truth is why today’s pastors and other spiritual leaders need to stop using worship methods that only lead their worshippers into what is just a “feel good” experience. Without a doubt, when God, the Holy Spirit, or Jesus’ name is just tacked on to whatever pastors and other spiritual leaders are singing, preaching or teaching, the occasional use of the Godhead’s names only will give what is sung, preached, or taught the appearance of being a godly anointed Word! Furthermore, since this is that prophesied time when even long-time believers could be seduced by the Devil’s music, this is another reason why pastors and spiritual leaders should put more emphasis on singing those songs that specifically have been written for the purpose of worshipping God, instead of using those songs that specifically were written for purposes other than godly worship.
Finally, more so than ever before, today’s pastors and other spiritual leaders need to remember that their churches already have too many individuals in them who “…act as if they are religious, but they … reject the power that could make them godly” (2 Timothy 3:5a, NLT). For this reason, today’s pastors and other spiritual leaders also need to realize that the “power” that is able to make anybody godly certainly is not the power of R&B, Rock, Rap, Hip-Hop, Country, or other worldly styles of music!