This is pure speculation, but it seems to me that when the modern worship movement came into town, churches became more and more age segregated. There is probably a doctoral student somewhere in America working on this topic right now, so I’ll wait for that book to come out to tell me more about it. But as a general observation, I do not remember churches in my youth having such radical age divides as they do now. And my guess is that music is one of the main reasons for this change.
This is certainly an oversimplification of a larger problem. But music is one of the main ways that a church shows its stylistic preferences. Thus, music becomes an important way for a church to identify itself. My guess is that many people make the decision about where they will go to church based largely on the style of music. It’s just easy to be around people who like the things we do.
The Uniting Gospel
I don’t think anyone has ever gone into a country club and said in amazement, “How did all these people find each other…this is amazing!” No one ever wonders what brings country-clubbers together. It is obviously their wealth, their love for refined leisure and their desire to play golf or tennis. So it’s actually not that amazing at all that they’re together. I’m afraid you could walk into many of our churches and make similar observations. This is the old people church with the organ and hymnbook. This is the young people church where people wear skinny jeans and the music is loud. It’s just easier to divide that way.
But, the beauty of the gospel is that it brings together people who would not naturally choose to be together. Let me show you from scripture how I know this to be true. There was never a divide quite as strong as the Jew-Gentile divide at the beginning of the church. Jewish people spent their lives thinking of all of the ways they were to be separated from the Gentiles. When God started saving Gentiles, this created a huge problem for Jewish Christians. Now Jews were to become one body with…Gentiles?! Think of how strongly Paul had to confront Peter just to remind him that a Jew could eat with a Gentile. Wouldn’t it be easier just to have a Jewish Christian church and a Gentile Christian church? But that’s not what Paul said to do. He knew that a united people in one church would display the beauty of the gospel more brilliantly.
Reconciled to God and One Another
Paul says in Ephesians 2:14-18, “For He himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
In these verses, do you see the two things that the blood of Christ does?
First, it brings sinners who were far away from God near to Him through the blood of Christ. If we want peace with God, then we have to come through Christ. Only His blood will bring us to God in a way that God will accept.
Secondly, it brings people who were far apart together in one body. Do you see all the phrases that describe what the blood of Christ did to the Jews and Gentiles? The blood of Christ broke down the dividing wall of hostility. It created one man out of two. It made peace. And ultimately it reconciled both peoples together to God. P.T. Obrien says in his commentary on Ephesians, “Believers come near to God and to one another (Gentiles and Jews) through the saving death of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The blood of Christ compels us to be unified with those who are not like us apart from Him.
Whatever seemed like the predominate thing that identified me before Christ is now gone. American, Caucasian, young, musician, Swedish ancestry, Southerner. All those things fade into the background under my new title: Christian. And what is the only thing that has the sheer power to sweep away my allegiances from my old identities? The gospel. The blood of Jesus, shed on the cross, bought me back from sin’s captivity. And this is the way that every person comes to God. No one was a little better off. Not Jew, not Gentile. Not African-American or Caucasian or Hispanic or Asian. Not psalm-singer or hymn-singer or Passion Worship-singer. No one. The cross of Christ is what reconciled us to God and is what unites groups of people that were hostile towards one another.
For this reason, I don’t believe we should be content with the generational divide that is prevalent in many of our churches. Doesn’t Paul’s admonition to the Ephesians attack the very center of where most of our church conflicts begin? Deep down most of us think that “we” are better than “them”. I believe my reasons for doing things are better than yours. I believe that my tribe is better than your tribe. I am more worthy of making the decisions than you are. My opinion should be held in greater regard than yours. Paul plainly says that no one has an advantage; thus no one should think that they have more importance (Romans 12).
So, let me ask you, is your congregation marked by a unity that doesn’t make sense apart from the Spirit? Spirit filled, multi-generational unity is a powerful witness to God’s work in our churches. Let’s endeavor by God’s grace to see the gospel of Jesus Christ bring us near to those who are different than us. Let’s plan for, and pray towards fruit in this area. It will take a great amount of intentional service and sacrifice. But it is an endeavor that God calls His church to as we remember that His blood purchased a unity for us that is beyond the natural man.
Hey there everyone. Can’t tell you how excited we are that JWMH releases today….3 years in the making!
Here are a few links that you may want to know about…
Link to JWMH on Itunes
Link to buy a physical copy of JWMH
The Story Behind And How To Play – JESUS WANTS MY HEART
The Story Behind And How To Play – FAITHFUL
The Story Behind And How To Play – HOW DOES THE FATHER LOVE HIS CHILDREN
The Story Behind And How To Play – WHY I SING
The Story Behind And How To Play – WONDROUS LOVE
About 3 years ago I began the process of writing a kids’ worship album. At the time I wanted to write songs that were in the genre of the Wiggles, but something that parents would listen to as well. I realized along the way that I am really not good at writing Wiggles-type songs (bad for the wallet…good for my pride…ha). But I loved writing songs that kids and parents would enjoy listening to together, and that lyrically would provide opportunities for families to have great theological discussions. So we switched it from a kids’ project to a family worship album.
It looks as though the album will come out next Tuesday the 23rd. And we couldn’t be happier. Releasing this CD has been 3 years in the making (the longest any of my CD’s has taken me to release).
Here are few things I hope will happen through this CD.
1-I hope that families will have rich theological discussions because of the songs on JWMH. It’s amazing how God made our minds to be spong-like when it comes to music. Kids can easily sing songs about ideas that they can’t fully grasp, just because they’ve learned the melody . We’ve been praying that dads and moms will ask question about these songs and help their children think through the implications of the theological ideas in the songs. One, for instance, is the idea of Jesus being our substitute in the song “Love Love Love.” Obviously, substitutionary atonement is a weighty concept for kids to grasp, but I think the song give us an opportunity to help our kids think about how God lovingly put Jesus forward as our sin substitute.
2-I hope that families have fun listening to these songs. As I wrote these songs, I knew pretty quickly if a song was a dud or heading in the right direction by the way that my daughters responded to me playing it. If they danced and sang along almost immediately I knew it would probably stick for other kiddos as well. Some of the most fun our family has had over the last 3 years have been dancing and laughing in our living room while we were singing these songs together. I hope that your families experience the same joy that ours has in listening to these songs.
3-I hope that these songs give your kids good categories to love God and fight sin. This is closely tied to point 1, but just a step further. We have prayed that just like scripture memory, these songs would be a means of grace as our kids call them up from memory in moments of temptation. One example might be feeling discouraged that their sin is keeping them from coming to God in prayer, and remembering a line “Rest Your Little Soul” that the “…Father’s perfect plan is to give his Spirit as our guide, to lead us to the throne of love.”
4-I hope that these songs help parents fulfill Deuteronomy 6:6-7. Moses’ words to Isreal’s parents was that they were to tell their children about God during every situation of life. When they were at home, when they were walking and when they were going to sleep. Parents were commended to take every opportunity to tell their children about God. As a parent of 3 little girls (6, 4, 3), I can tell you that this is hard. Historically I know it’s hard because Israel failed to do it. Experientially I know this is hard because I fail weekly and daily to do this. I don’t want to offer a 3 step program here to cure you of your spiritual laziness and help you shepherd your kids to love God. But I can tell you that songs with spiritual depth have been a real blessing to Danielle and myself, as it provides an opportunity for us to ask our girls questions about what they are learning in that song. Those questions often lead to fruitful conversations. My hope is that the songs from JWMH will help good conversations happen.
5-I hope these songs will have evangelistic fruit. This certainly wasn’t the only purpose in writing these songs. But I can’t help but think/pray that one of these CDs will end up in the hands of a family who doesn’t know Christ, and that God will use some of these songs to open their eyes to the gospel. There are a lot of La La’s and Ohh’s and Ahh’s in these songs, but in-between all this there are words explicitly about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m praying that God would see fit to use these songs to bring people to himself.
Thank you so much for supporting our music. Danielle and I feel blessed beyond words that so many of y’all have expressed excitement about this CD.
The Book of Psalms deals with the realities of life and reveals a soul poured out to the living God – the complaints, the heartaches, the emptiness – and yet alongside these, it acknowledges a God who is incomparable great, who’s plans and purposes are far above our agendas and understandings, but who also loves us with an everlasting covenant love. Thus, we see in the Psalms a perfect biblical balance of objectice and subjective in spiritual experience. In the Psalms, God and his word are clearly dominate in the believer’s experience without any diminution whatsoever of the wounds and quandaries and questions of life in a fallen world. No wonder the Reformers thought we ought to sing psalms and read psalms in worship- they saw them as the very core of a well-rounded Christian experience. – Give Praise To God pg. 147
The Son of God had no need of experience that he might know the emotions of mercy; but we could not be persuaded that he is merciful and ready to help us, had he not become acquainted by experience with our miseries; but this, as other things, has been as a favor to us. Therefore whenever any evil pass over us, let it always occur to us, that nothing happens to us but what the Son of God has himself experienced in order that he might sympathize with us; nor let us doubt but that he is at present with us as though he suffered with us.
Calvin – Epistle to the Hebrews, pg. 75
We had so much fun finishing up Jesus Wants My Heart. We finished all the vocals and tracked most of the guitars and keys. James and Brentice came up with some AMAZING ideas for the songs.
Here are a few videos from our time in Nashville.
James – Children of God
James – Wake up
Brentice – And Can It Be
James – Jesus Wants My Heart
Brentice – Faithful
Sorry for the long silence. I think the last time I wrote anything we were adding drums to the Jesus Wants My Heart tracks. I thought I’d share a little of what we’ve been up to since I last blogged:
Bennett is practicing to join NCSU’s cheerleading squad. Eden’s attempt of catching a duck while paddle boating was rather unsuccessful. And, I had to break the hard news to Mercy that I wouldn’t be playing “Love, Love, Love” at Southeastern’s chapel service.
Well, now almost 9 months later we’re heading to Nashville to finish the rest of the album. At this point there isn’t a ton to do. We’ll mostly be doing vocals on everything and then a bunch of electric/acoustic/piano/keys/banjo parts on the rest of the song. (By “we’ll” I mean James – ha, ha) I always knew he was an amazing instrumentalist and producer…but my goodness he has blown me away with his musical ideas for this CD. It’s such a huge privilege to get to work with him, and a really great blessing to know how invested he is in making this album great.
I’ll make sure to take a bunch of videos and pictures. And if you think about it…please pray that God would give us creativity and fruitfulness in our time there.
Two years ago I, James Childs, Mike Passaro and Patrick Downing traveled to Springfield Missouri and recorded On The Incarnation with Jeremy Larson. I’ve written a ton on the huge blessing it was working with all of these guys, so I won’t say it again here, and I always feel like I’m writing in a year book every time I do. HA!
Here are a few videos we made while we were out there. Hope you enjoy.
Oh and special shout out to Ben Salmon for being our musical arranger, manager, filmer, driver that week. Much love jameeen.