Posted in theology

The fallout from a hyper-casual generation (of pastors)

By Elizabeth Prata

“Pumped” “Juiced” “Excited” “Amped”

The above are words by pastors you read on Facebook or Twitter or Church Web pages who try to artificially intensify an upcoming Sunday/Good Friday/Easter church service. Not everything is a party.

In fact, the commands in the Bible for how to live and how to worship use words that declare the opposite. We are called to be holy, sober-minded, dignified, reverent, self-controlled, and more.

Not that we don’t get excited for worship, or that we shouldn’t declare our heightened emotions at a wedding or an Easter service or a conference or a Choir performance etc. But to use juvenile language to constantly artificially promote reverent services is well, juvenile. It’s especially silly language if coming from 40 and 50 year olds. Church services are not a circus, a performance, a festival, or a sports game, but using the same language that mimics those other more fleshly pursuits diminishes the dignity of a church service.

See how the juvenile excitement language is used for a car giveaway, a movie release, a grocery store opening, a hockey game, and a….worship service?

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The Bible says we are to prepare for services this way:

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13).

The phrase “set” your hope indicates an intentionality of action for living and for worshiping. That intentionality should include a sober-mindedness (meaning, no silliness). It’s a sober-minded decision to reverently consider and declare the wonders of our Savior.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; (1 Chronicles 16:29)

I listened to a fascinating Q&A conversation between Dr. Austin Duncan and Dr. John MacArthur on ecclesiology, the study of the church. It’s here.

Duncan asked MacArthur why he programs his Sunday services the way he does, the order of what occurs and if it has always been that way. MacArthur replied that when he came to Grace Community Church 50 years ago, the order of service had been different, but he instituted this order for certain reverential and particular reasons.

Invocational prayer, sometimes aloud led by a pastor, sometimes silent.
Reason: Refocus the congregation’s attention from fellowship to the Lord for worship.

Series of songs
This is also a call to worship, now for the purpose of bringing people to the presence of the Lord. The congregation “sings our salvation joys back to Him,” MacArthur said. Singing songs that extol His grace and mercy and salvation again focuses attention to the Lord and gives Him glory.

Read scripture
Reason: To hear from Him. We hear from Him through His word. MacArthur reads a lengthy portion. “Scripture carries divine power”, he said. It is read carefully and soberly.

Choral Prayer
Reason: To ask the Lord, please receive our worship and our praise. Now it’s a united community prepared to hear the words of the scripture. MacArthur now acts as priest, bringing the congregation into the presence of the Lord in communion.

Brief intro visitors, announcements
Reason: Because, lol, “This is still real life.”

Offering
Giving is part of worship.

Song
Reason: More expressions of our praise.

Sermon, 1 hour
Now the pastor switches from acting as priest bringing the people to the Lord, to prophet bringing the Lord to the people, through His word.

Song or benediction

MacArthur emphasized that of course this not the only way to conduct a service, but it seems to him to be a good and dignified way that honors the Lord.

He also said that there is a cultural issue involved in how people approach church services. Increasingly, he said he has observed that people in their entire lives have never attended a sober event. They don’t know how to act. They simply don’t know how to act. They don’t know how to be serious when the event or the situation calls for dignity or seriousness. But church services need to “have a loftiness and a dignity,” he said.

“Seriousness, sober-mindedness,and dignity is something this generation desperately needs. This hyper-casual generation…the manifest irresponsibility they demonstrate in life by the way they dress and the way they act shows a lack of discipline. They may be able to discipline themselves at the gym, but they have a very difficult time disciplining their minds.” ~John MacArthur

Now, that is the crux of the matter right there. I’m not a fuddy duddy, complaining for kids to get off my lawn and to bring back only ‘traditional’ services. There are two issues, one I’ve mentioned: a lack of sober-mindedness in the way so many church leaders and congregants approach their services. What they say (i.e. ‘pumped’), how they dress, and how they act displays a lack of dignity, and thus reverence, in worshiping the Holy God.

Secondly, pastors who pander to this hyper-casualness fail to teach how to BE sober-minded and dignified – to a generation that desperately needs it. As MacArthur said in the Q&A, if you can’t get them to sit there for an hour and a half without some sort of frivolity, they aren’t going to go through life pursuing holiness.

An undisciplined mind will succumb to the world, fizzle in its walk, and short-circuit its sanctification. That’s why being “pumped” for church services is far from the same as one who soberly prepares, contemplates, and rigorously disciplines their mind to receive truth- and reject sin.

Are we soldiers on a mission? Or are we puerile party goers so “pumped” that we can’t tell the difference in how to behave in a church service or a frat party?

 

Posted in theology

Dudette, where’s your gravitas?

By Elizabeth Prata

Last week I asked Do You Like or Dislike Podcasts? I’d admitted that my toleration level for any and all auditory stimuli is low, due to my autism. Therefore if I’m going to listen to something I’d rather it be a sermon or soft classical music (very calming).

The title question is a paraphrase from a Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood article which asked the men “Dude, Where’s Your Gravitas?

Gravitas is a Latin word meaning dignity, seriousness, or solemnity of manner. Bible teachers, speakers, and podcasters are handling the word of God. They are conveying or teaching doctrines or concepts related to theology and its application to Christian living.

Sadly, many podcasts by both men and woman sink into silly behavior from the podcaster, especially when there are two or more hosts, or a host and a guest. There’s so much giggling, laughing, and off-topic, random chats that I usually reach my limit within just a few minutes, and turn it off or move the dial to something more productive. I also think it’s asking a lot of the podcaster to expect busy moms and outside the home working women to devote their limited time listening to their tee-heeing and non-productive repartee.

Quite often when I publish an essay regarding false doctrine brought by a false teacher, I receive angry comments and emails telling me to ‘judge not’ and the like. But strangely, the angrier emails and comments I receive come when I publish an essay urging women to behave biblically. My, how so many women resent being urged to behave like biblical women!

But the Bible demands certain behavior from all of the faithful in every age group. We women, we are told to be a graceful pillar

May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace; (Psalm 144:12).

Pillars, ladies, Not a braying donkey.

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A friend sent me a link to an Elisabeth Elliot talk on Youtube. Elliot (1926-2015) was a missionary along with her husband to the unreached group the Auca of eastern Ecuador. After what seemed a successful first few contacts, the Auca massacred her husband and four other missionaries with him. Elliot remained in Ecuador after her husband’s death for two years as missionary to the tribe members who killed her husband. She remained in Ecuador overall until 1963.

Elliot was a popular speaker and author. Many of her talks to women about wifelihood or missionary life were recorded, as the one my friend sent.

Something one notices immediately upon listening to Elliot is her demeanor. She speaks slowly, carefully, soberly. (Titus 2:3,5). I think of someone like Beth Moore, where her speech patterns are so frenetic that when Chris Rosebrough introduces a segment about her he plays “Flight of the Bumblebee”. Or Christine Caine, who, at Passion 2019, yelled a lot and never stopped striding around the stage (in a track suit). A Bible teacher’s demeanor like Elisabeth’s will cause one to stop, listen, and take what is said more seriously because of the gravitas inherent in the woman. She spoke of heavenly things with respect for heaven.

The following is from Council of Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, it says of gravitas in men (change the pronoun to woman)-

“That is a man of gravitas. There is a solemn weight to the way he carries himself. He believes in truth. He walks in love, joy, passion, and conviction. There’s an undeniable winsome seriousness evident in his character, his words, his thoughts, and his motivations.”

The Bible says of women,
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5).

From Strong’s,

 

  • reverent in Titus 2:3- means, befitting men, places, actions, or things sacred to God, reverent
  • self-controlled in Titus 3:5- sṓphrōn (“acting in God’s definition of balance”) makes someone genuinely temperate, i.e. well-balanced from God’s perspective. True balance is not “one-size-fits-all” nor is it blandly static. This root then reflects living in God-defined balance.
  • The root is the root of “diaphram,” the inner organ (muscle) that regulates physical life, controlling breathing and heart beat.
  • The whole word-family comes from sōos “safe” and phrēn “what regulates life”, which is the root of the English term “diaphram”.
  • Example: An opera singer controls the length (quality) of their tones by their diaphragm which even controls the ability to breathe and moderates heartbeat. Hence it regulates (“brings safety”) to the body, keeping it properly controlled.

A gracious woman gets honor, and violent men get riches. (Proverbs 11:16)

The word honor as used in the Proverb here means ‘of a woman’. It’s used elsewhere to indicate- a doe (Nahum 3:4); a precious stone (Proverbs 5:19); of ornaments (Proverbs 17:8; Proverbs 1:9; Proverbs 4:9; Proverbs 3:22.) Source, Strong’s.

One thing that Phil Johnson and Todd Friel remarked upon when discussing a “teaching” clip from Beth Moore was that her demeanor strayed from teaching the Bible with reverence and gravitas, to performance as a stand-up comedian. Dear sister, speaker, podcaster, ladies, if we are blessed with the gift of teaching and undertake that endeavor, do we want to point to ourselves in performance, or do we revere the subject matter enough to speak about our subject with not only skill and clear doctrine, but reverence and self-control?

If women are going to teach on Bible subjects, shouldn’t we act like the Bible says to act?

Just some thoughts. Let me know what you think.

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Further reading/listening

Podcast by The Thankful Homemaker: Cultivating Self-Control. Contains good thoughts on approaching Christian life and holy things with reverence, which includes self-control.

Equipping Eve by Erin Benziger is a good podcast for content, and also to demonstrate a woman with gravitas in handling the subject matter well.

Michelle Lesley is a Christian blogger, speaker, teacher, and vlogger. She projects a demeanor of joy without silliness. Both the theological content and her speaking style are, in my opinion reverent, and self-controlled. Check out her Youtube channel here