Thinking Out Loud

July 1, 2013

Shame On You, Bethel Church

Bethel Church live stream

I’ve never seen anything quite like this.

So last night I was watching a live concert from Bethel Church when suddenly, my “preview hour” ran out in the middle of a worship song.  It not only ended abruptly, but shut down my browser completely — leaving me staring at my email program —  without even so much as “The mass has ended. Go in peace.”

Instead, I was told that if I wanted to watch more, I needed to put more money in the meter.  Or deposit more coins as in the public phones in the UK.  In this case they wanted either $5 or $3 unless I would be content with audio-only, which was a paltry $1. Yeah, they interrupted their own concert for the sake of a dollar. They could have at least kept the audio streaming while they held me hostage and begged for bucks.

Apparently, the concept of “freely you have received,” hasn’t touched this church. “Wanna watch our services? Then fork out your credit card.”  Sorry, guys, but there’s far too much available online for free that is just too similar to what you’re selling.

From what I’ve been told, even pornography sites are more generous with previews.

I know a lot of Christian websites charge for downloads, but at least you know where you stand upfront and you’re not caught in the situation of having something end in the middle. I am so thankful I didn’t invite a friend over to watch this with us.  That would be too awkward.

It showed no respect for the guest musicians, no respect to the songwriters,  no respect for the worship that was taking place, no respect for the viewers like me who had been invited by the guest musicians, and frankly, no respect for God, either.

I went back to my browser — which had other things open — and retrieved the above screenshot. It says they hope I was blessed. I was, originally.

Then they un-blessed me.

To others who were in the same situation: Any similarity between this church’s website and the teachings of Jesus is purely a coincidence.

Bethel Church website

Read more of this article by depositing $5.00 in that tray on your PC tower that opens and closes when you push the button.

June 12, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Texting While Driving - Reverend Fun

Copyright © 2011 The Zondervan Corporation

Wednesday List Lynx -- two, actually

Wednesday List Lynx — two, actually

Time for another round of Christian blog and news links for the whole family. In the past we would often begin and end here with cartoons, but the whole question of fair use gets muddy sometimes, especially when humor meets illustration. I’ve studied the permissions statements of some of these and can’t reconcile what I read with what seems to be ubiquitous online. So we decided to run one, since it’s been awhile. Click the image to visit Reverend Run’s site.

I Once Was Lost Golf Ball Don’t forget to get your link suggestions in by 6:00 PM, Mondays, EST; and as always, for breaking links, you can follow me on Twitter. Look for @PaulW1lk1nson (change the letter i to a number 1).

February 22, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Church life:

  • Hal West, author of  The Pickled Priest and the Perishing Parish : “No one will argue against the fact that since the beginning of Christian history there has existed a tension between two distinct groups in the church – the clergy and the laity. ”  Read what pastors don’t get and what people don’t get.
  • A. J. Swoboda: “I think not having our children worship with us in worship can be dangerous. Who else is to teach them why and how we sing? How else are children to learn the ways of worship? …I wonder if something was lost when we split the family up in church?”  Read more at A. J.’s blog.
  • Carter Moss: ” I desperately want to hear from God through every avenue possible. That why I love leading at a church that uses movie clips…, TV show clips…, and secular music… every chance we get.” This link has been in my files since August; read Why My Faith (And Yours) Needs Pop Culture.
  • He said, she said:  “…[S]he continues to nominate women for the board of elders, something their denomination, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, allows. [Pastor] Willson has said that only qualified men can be elders at Second Presbyterian.”  A longtime member faces church discipline in Memphis.
  • So if you jump through all the hoops and actually get to sing a solo at Thompson Road Baptist Church, you can’t sing a Contemporary Christian Music song or “a song that was made popular by CCM.” In other words, if Casting Crowns covers “Dwelling in Beulah Land” it’s goes off the approved list. (Click the image to isolate the text, and then a 2nd time to enlarge it.)
  • Yours truly borrows a list of 13 signs of a healthy church, and then adds a description of a very healthy church you may have heard before; all at Christianity 201.

Christian blogosphere:

  • Mrs. Beamish isn’t too happy with the worship style changes in her local C. of E. (Church of England). Especially the ‘friendlier’ passing of the piece and up-tempo music. A hilarious song posted to YouTube back in ’08.
  • Lifeway Christian Bookstores are going to continue selling the revised NIV Bible after all. Yawn.
  • Prodigal Magazine re-launches on March 1st with Allison and Darrell Westerfelt taking the reins.
  • Paul Helm, who teaches at Regent College on the phrase, ‘asking Jesus into your heart : “They are using words and phrases that bear a positive relation to the language in which the faith has been officially as preached and confessed by the church through the centuries, but a rather loose relation..” Pray the prayer, read the post.
  • This is a new product that not even XXX.Church.Com had heard of when I wrote them this week. Check out My Porn Blocker, currently available at a ridiculously low price.
  • Steve McCoy reveals where the treasure is buried: A stash of online articles by Redeemer Presbyterian’s Timothy Keller.   It was derived from a larger list featuring various authors.
  • CNN’s Belief Blog offers an excellent profile of Ed Dobson along with a look at his latest video My Garden.
  • I love the tagline for this blog: Was 1611 the last word for the English Bible? The KJV Only Debate Blog is a blog but it looks like the real action is in the forum. “This blog aims to confront the King James controversy head on, and evaluate the claims of KJV-onlyism from a Biblical perspective.The authors are all former proponents of KJV-onlyism. …[W]e acknowledge that there are multiple varieties of the KJV-only position.”
  • In a first for Canada, a Teen Challenge center in Brandon, Manitoba will launch as a women-only facility.
  • Want to understand the basics of Christianity?  The Australian website YDYC — Your Destiny, Your Choice — has a number of basic videos explaining salvation.
  • Here’s a fun video by The Left filmed in a theater in Western Canada, enjoy Cellophane. At GodTube, they cite various faith influences, though their bio doesn’t.
  • Today is the first day of Lent.  If you have absolutely no idea what that means, you might want to start with this introduction to the church calendar.
  • All good lists must come to an end; if you’re an otter, don’t forget to say your prayers.

May 9, 2011

Charles Swindoll on Modern Worship

…I have been to church services, and you have too, where the only people who knew the songs were the band. I’m not edified. I’m just watching a show.

And they’re not interested in teaching me the songs either. They just sing louder to make up for the fact that no one else is singing. Loud doesn’t help. Why do they do that? Do you want me to be impressed with how loud you are singing, how accomplished you are? I’m not. I’m not here to be impressed with you. I’m here to fall back in love with Christ.

Innovation doesn’t have to be loud or a gimmick. How about silence? Most people get no silence in their world. Imagine three or four minutes of silence. No music. No background distractions.

Or change the order of worship. Start the service with an invitation rather than ending with it. Nothing in the Bible says to walk down an aisle. So be innovative. I’m not against screens, or new songs, or innovation. I just don’t like the gimmicks. I want to know when worship is over that that leader’s sole purpose was to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s not important to himself, and I’m not.

Here’s what troubles me: I don’t know why leaders younger than me aren’t saying this. I’m not talking about novices, but the leaders in their forties and fifties. Why aren’t they raising questions and showing some concern for where the church is heading with its focus on media and headcount and passive spectating? I know one church that has 17 people on their media staff and only 12 on the pastoral staff.

When a church is spending more of its budget on media than shepherding, something is out of whack. We have gotten things twisted around. My book is simply saying come back, folks. I’m not against innovation. But we need more wisdom.

read more at Leadership Magazine online.

June 24, 2010

Worship in the United States vs. Worship in the United Kingdom

Two countries.   Much shared history.   A common language.   Similar politics.

But when it comes to church or when it comes to our expression of Christianity, are we in North America more alike our British cousins or are we more unalike?

Living in Canada gives a few of us a unique window on both our neighbours to the south and our friends several thousand miles to the east.   To many of us here, Adrian Plass, Selwyn Hughes, Graham Kendrick, Stuart Townend, etc. are names we have at least heard, if we haven’t also read their books or sung their songs.

What amazes me though is how little my contacts in the U.S. know of Christianity in England.    Where this turns up most is in a cursory examination of worship music in both countries.

Because we’re still a few weeks away from getting the biannual numbers from CCLI — the next six month report comes out in August — we’ll have to settle for a look at the February 2010 stats.

Here’s a look at the Top 25 worship songs in use in the U.K.

Without getting too deep into statistics — we’ll leave that to the sportscasters — you see on this list a couple of Graham Kendrick classics along with the beautiful “I Will Offer Up My Life” by Matt Redman and a number of pieces that follow the ‘hymn style’ of verse/chorus, such as “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,” “Be the Centre,” and the classic “All Heaven Declares.”   The American #1 most-used chorus, “Mighty to Save” by Hillsong doesn’t even appear on the list.

Here’s the U.S.A. list for the same period:

For some of my American readers, this list seems rather dated, or perhaps even rather tame.  Your church has already moved on to newer songs.   I personally think that the U.S. church has adopted a rather “disposable” attitude toward its worship music in the last five years or so.   Anything before 2006 is considered a “golden oldie.”

That’s rather sad in a way.    The British churches contributing to their list seem to hang on to a good song a little longer.

I also feel bad for American churches who aren’t using “Once Again” by Matt Redman, but also wish that the British list contained at least one song by Paul Baloche.

I think every church service should contain at least a couple of songs from these lists.   This is the worship music that connects us; these songs are being sung across denominational lines.   Too much new and unfamiliar music weakens the worship time.   I also hope your church does at least five or six different worship songs each week.   There’s a trend right now to only doing a couple, but I think it leaves both seasoned worshipers and seekers a little shortchanged.

If you missed it, last week I had another couple of posts on worship music in light of a recent book, and you can read those here (June 11th) and here (June 17th).  (If you think I’ve gone conservative, rest assured that the author of that book wouldn’t have even posted these lists!)

I think it is incumbent on worship leaders to stay aware of what’s happening in worship on a worldwide scale, and know about other material that is available to them.   If you click on the links, you’ll end up at the site which also allows you too look at lists in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Africa.

Brooke Fraser has a total of four songs on the N.Z. list, including #2 and #3, but the Africa list has more familiar songs that you might expect.

If I could only sing 25 songs in the next year, I’d be content to make the Africa list my songbook.

Today’s forum:  What do you think of the song selection at your place of worship?

May 19, 2010

Wednesday Link List

For your consideration…

  • Top Trend of the Week On Christian Blogs (and Everywhere Else) — Quitting Facebook.   This one isn’t a faith blogger, but it makes the point well.
  • C. Michael Patton may call his post Why I Am Not Charismatic, but he’s more Charismatic-friendly than most.   Besides, I have a thing for charts:

  • Speakers, worship leaders, pastors:  If your church has an audio system, act as though The Mic Is Always On.   (Actually it’s a good rule for life, too.)
  • This British TV commercial — a long one, at 1:30 — for the John Lewis department stores is our YouTube clip of the week, as it could easily be one of those media clips your church uses on Sunday morning.
  • Donald Miller thinks the next time you’re at a party, instead of asking someone, “What do you do?” you might try asking, “What is your story?”  Everybody has one.
  • Even the little ethnic churches in major cities are prone to sex scandals.   This one took place in Toronto and you probably didn’t hear about it, but South Korea’s two largest TV networks were all over it.
  • This post on theological systems isn’t very long, but makes a good point, and besides, like I said, I’ve got a thing for charts.   Go to Matt Stone’s blog and double click the image there for a clearer vision.

  • Here’s a longer post I wrote on the weekend over at Christianity 201 which includes a long re-post of something serious by Jon Acuff.  Check out Where Sin Abounds.
  • Tired of getting all your blog input from 20-somethings and 30-somethings?   Donald M. Bastian is no spring chicken, but if you appreciate the wisdom of older mentors — especially if you’re in ministry — check out Just Call Me Pastor.   (And the page which explains the blog’s name.)
  • I need you to check this apologetics blog out — pretend you’re a skeptic for a few minutes — and tell me what you think of Proof That God Exists.
  • Joel Taylor discovers that your local hospital may not be able to call that little room a chapel anymore, because that word is too sectarian.
  • Will Mancini says that when you break down Jesus’ spoken word content, his influence boils down to the use of metaphors.   As a matter of fact, this blog post even has a chart:

  • Book Trailer of the Week:  David W. Pierce describes his 2009 Waterbrook story of mountain climbing with his daughter, Don’t Let Me Go.
  • Devotional Blog Discovery of the Week:  Smoodock’s Blog.   The writer is actually named Eddie, and his “about” page tells you what a Smoodock is.  (You already know, you just didn’t know it had a name.)  Short devos posted every other day or so.  Reminds me a bit of Rick Apperson‘s blog.
  • In our Saving-The-Best-For-Last department, Matt Stone scores another Wednesday link with this post — you so gotta do this — asking you to compare two worship songs.
  • This actually isn’t part of the Wednesday Link List — It was in my image file and I truly have no idea where I got this — but like I said, I have thing for charts:

  • Instead of actual cartoons this week, we have some panels from Sacred Sandwich:

March 28, 2010

Sneaking Into The Movie Without Paying

Fortunately, only a handful of this blog’s readers are people I know locally, and of those, only a very small percentage would know my whereabouts this morning.   So with that in mind…

Dear Pastor;

It was good to visit your church again this morning.   Palm Sunday is always a special day in the church calendar, and you really nailed it with that sermon.

But I gotta be totally honest, the service — for me at least — got off to a rather pathetic start.

I thought the idea of opening the service with the Worship House Media film clip of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry was a great way to focus our thoughts.   Then I noticed the bottom corner of the screen:  FOR PREVIEW ONLY.   You hadn’t downloaded the video, which implies you hadn’t purchased the rights to use it at all.

What kind of example was that setting?  Especially for your internet savvy youth who would figure out exactly what was going on?   I mean they call them copyright laws for a reason, and if you’re breaking a law you’re committing a crime, right?

What kind of pastor commits a crime on a Sunday morning in full view of the 150 people in the congregation?   Come to think of it, I didn’t see any copyright notices on any of the choruses we sang this morning either.   Is this just a general contempt for copyright laws specifically, or all law in general?

Or was it the fact Worship House Media wanted $20 for a 1:52 clip?   I’ll admit that twenty bucks for a less-than-two-minute video does seem a bit steep.  I’d be shopping elsewhere.   But it’s their call.   Or you could just not use it.

I keep thinking that the Israelites were supposed to offer an unblemished lamb in sacrifice, and that this element of worship — streaming online off the preview site — was somewhat tainted; somewhat blemished.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think God can receive that particular act of worship.

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