Thinking Out Loud

May 28, 2011

What Modern Worship Has Done to Church History

On March 27th, 2009, I took the unusual step of posting an item on this blog which linked to a contemporary song having its basis in the biography of Mona Mahmudnizhad, a young woman martyr in the history of the Baha’i faith.    For the past week or so, the song and story have come back to me, and they continue to haunt me.  I feel that we’ve lost the channel by which to communicate to our next generation the stories of the past.  By creating one particular genre of music, we’re denying the power of music to accomplish other goals.

A movie commemorates John Newton, but what of Wycliffe?   John Calvin gets daily space in the blogosphere, but what of Athanasius?  Oswald Chambers’ devotional book is read by millions, but what of Thomas Chambers?  C. S. Lewis is beloved by children, but who has heard of G. K Chesterson? What of Don Richardson’s story as told in Peace Child or the prayer saga of Brother Lawrence?  Or what of doctrine?  The recent “rapture weekend” discussions frequently quoted the Larry Norman song, “I Wish We’d All Been Ready;” but are songs like that being written today? …And more to the point, have we lost the ability to use our music in non-worship settings?   That was what was on my mind two years ago when I wrote this…

With the entire cast of Christian musicians currently preoccupied with writing vertical worship music, it does the beg the question, who will tell our stories? What aspects of our faith is not being transmitted to the next generation due to our sidelining of music with narrative or didactic lyrics?

mona_mahmudnizhadWhat got me thinking about this was a YouTube viewing of a song by Canadian musician Doug Cameron, Mona With The Children, which tells the story of a young Baha’i girl, Mona Mahmudnizhad, who was one of ten women martyred in Iran for teaching her faith to children. Her heroic story is inspiring on so many levels. It is hard to just dismiss the strength of her conviction just because our beliefs are different. But more important is my longing for a Christian equivalent to this type of music. Sadly, there isn’t much out there.

Kids that form Christian bands believe that they are bound lyrically to what they sing in church and at youth group. It was not always this way. I love modern worship, but I believe we are severely limiting ourselves. As Christians, we need to the huge resources of our “Christian music industry” to praise God and to teach and tell stories to the next generation of personal salvation and heroes of our faith.




  1. I don’t think I know any Christian music which tells the stories of Christian “heroes” and this made me think. I don’t listen to Country & Western music but I know it tells the stories of many Australian bushmen. If they can do it, why can’t we?

    I have noticed a dropping away of reading Christian literature (apart from Christian fiction, that is). When I became a Christian more than 50 years ago, most Christians read all the missionary biographies and now I find that not many under 40 know anything about any of them. Is it because TV took over from reading?

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — May 29, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

    • I think it’s partly because of the general decline in reading you mention, but it’s also due to a changing emphasis in Christian education.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — May 29, 2011 @ 6:07 pm

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