The Toughest Decision I have had to make YTD

On Monday, August 20th, the pastoral staff at Berean Baptist Church came to a unanimous decision after about two solid hours of discussion among the eight that were present—the drum set will not be used during corporate worship in the main auditorium.

The reason the discussion went so long is because the issue we discussed had nothing to do with sound doctrine. No, the issue we discussed falls in the category of a preference and dealing with preferences is so much harder. I began the discussion with this lead in:

Men, suppose with me for just a minute that each week we met we began with some singing and in the process of picking and singing songs we discovered that Steve Wilson was offended by one of the songs we were singing. Would we continue to sing that song each week in spite of the offense? Of course the group immediately concurred that: NO, we would not continue to offend that brother in Christ each week and the group would yield to the one brother. Then I asked if it is fair to apply that same principle to the inclusion of a drum set in our Sunday corporate worship?

We then spent two hours discussing the issue. All kinds of questions were asked. Every possible angle was considered. How will this affect future growth? Pastor Sean, what if another person tells you they are offended by the trumpet? And on and on, what does this mean about our music? Are we going to lose our young people? Will we become a church with dead music? We so wanted to find a verse that told us: “thou shalt not use a drum set in corporate worship,” but there isn’t such a verse.

So the decision came down to one simple thing, and it is the question that Christians must ask themselves anytime they are wrestling with such a decision: “What would Christ do?” Jesus said he came to provide for us an example (John 13.15). Christ is our example. Washing feet dirty nasty feet is a great example of preferring one another.

Berean Baptist Church is an independent fundamental Baptist church. We are not a community church. (Although there is nothing wrong with being a community church and God is certainly being most glorified in many Bible believing community churches all over the world; I refuse to stand in judgment of them.) We are a Baptist church. We are a very conservative Baptist church. Our doctrine is based exclusively on God’s word. My preaching is absolutely some of the most conservative in town. It should not be a surprise that conservative Baptist visitors moving into Fayetteville from another town may struggle with drums in the auditorium—we have now removed this struggle. (There are in fact some who would love to return to Berean but the drums have kept them away—we have removed this obstacle.)

Many of our members have spent decades in Berean or churches like Berean. Some have been saved out of a rebellious rock culture. For them, the drums and the associated beat are an icon of the world and all it represents. Personally, I was never involved in that rock world—AC/DC and all the rest never appealed to me so I struggle at relating to this, but I know for them their perception is reality and they believe it is based on conviction; not a preference. Something could be sin for one person and not another (see James 4.17).

I met with a family that shared with me that Berean was number 6 or 7 on their list of Baptist churches to visit because of the inclusion of the drums. From a pastoral perspective, this pains me. I don’t want to be number 6; I want to be number 1 on their list. When a preacher pours his life each week into preparing messages he wants to reach the largest possible audience. Furthermore, when he hears that the preaching was great but the music was too much that speaks to him over and over again.

Do I want dead music, absolutely not! Do I think that those who oppose the drums want dead music? No. If they did they would have left years ago. But these are people who have been involved in the church for decades and they love Berean and Berean is a major part of their lives. One person who is very concerned was a member of the church when it met on Bragg Blvd. But the music has become an incredible obstacle that is keeping them from connecting with God each week, and I know Jesus would instruct me to remove any obstacle that was keeping people from connecting with God.

This isn’t a decision that you vote about. This is a decision that the pastor who leads the church must make with the counsel of other wise men. The church constitution states, “The Pastor shall oversee and/or conduct all aspects of this Church” (paragraph 3, pg. 8). There can be no division in the church over this matter—division is disruptive and God expects unity in the body of Christ—he prayed for it three times in John 17. Those who enjoy the inclusion of drums in corporate worship please love your brothers in Christ more than the drums. Please understand how the drums could be an obstacle and respect that in Christ. Those who oppose the drums please don’t ask for more and more. Please recognize that many of your brothers and sisters in Christ love a more lively upbeat music and they personally connect exceptionally well with this kind of music. We must prefer one another.

For a year I have been struggling with this; for a year I have known that it would come down to this. I do not believe that the drums are inherently sinful. Drums are neither moral nor immoral, but for some they are an icon of the world and in respect for my brother and sister in Christ I directed that the drums be removed from the auditorium, but not from the campus.

Pastor Steve Rahn is going to continue to include the drums in teen music on Wednesdays and drum players will be able to continue to use their talents for the Lord in this venue and possibly others in the future. Steve knows that I do not believe that “rocking to Jesus” is glorifying to God. And we will NOT “rock to Jesus” in any venue anywhere on the campus. He is striving to combat the influence of MTV, the Disney channel, and the Internet on our youth, but pulling the drums out is not going to fix that problem. Only a heart for God will fix that. There are many, many Baptist churches that refuse to have drums and their youth are struggling at having a heart for God—don’t think for one minute that drums are an obstacle for our younger generation in connecting with God.

For me this decision has nothing to do with drums and everything to do with love. It pains me to think that I have members of the church who stay out in the parking lot until the music is over. That should pain every member of Berean unless “self “is in the way.

This isn’t a conviction for me. My convictions are based on the Word of God. My conviction is that I must love my brother and sister in Christ more than myself and lead the church to do the same.

The inclusion or exclusion of drums in corporate music is not a hill worthy of dying on. This isn’t a situation where the majority wins. This is a Romans 14 situation. “For none of us lives to himself” and “let’s resolve not to put a stumbling block—an obstacle—or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” and “I am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” Read the entire chapter several times it speaks so clearly to this issue.

How will the world—Fayetteville—and the Baptist community know we are followers of Christ if we don’t have love one for another? Love your brother in spite of whether he wants or doesn’t want drums in the auditorium—love him or her anyway. Love him because Christ first loved you and gave his life for you. Love him because God is glorified when Christians prefer one another in spite of a significant difference of opinion. Let us all work hard at maintaining the unity of the body of Christ in the Spirit of Christ (Eph 4.3).

32 comments:

  1. May God grant you the surety that Berean Baptist Church supports your decision.

    Hur

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  2. And those that do prefer more contemporary worship are going to love the Saturday Night Church meetings coming pretty soon.

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  3. I wonder how many people would be interested in a Saturday night worship service?

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  4. I understand how it would be wrong to continue a song that may offend a brother in Christ. However, is it not just as wrong for a brother in Christ to allow his being "offended" by that song to stifle the worship of HIS brother in Christ? Which is more Christ honoring, stifling the worship so as not to "offend" or stopping the flesh from feeling offended so others can worship God to the fullest. For those that need a better explanation I reccomend reading Ps 119:165

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  5. I support the decision in order to support our leadership.

    I am VERY interested in Saturday Church if it means we can once again play our music for the Lord instead of playing music for the Church's preference.

    Jim

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  6. I come from a church where there is only a piano ..and I "prefer" that, But it is not about "me". Drums or no drums I will be in my seat ready for the Word of God!!!

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  7. "When the music fades
    And all is stripped away
    And i simply come
    Longing just to bring
    Something that's of worth
    That will bless your heart

    I'll bring you more than a song
    For a song in itself
    Is not what you have required
    You search much deeper within
    Through the way things appear
    Your looking into my heart

    Im coming back to the heart of worship
    And it's all about you
    It's all about you, Jesus
    I'm sorry Lord for the thing i've made it
    When it's all about you
    It's all about you, Jesus."
    I love this song, Catherine Joiner

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  8. In answer to "Kathy",
    Worship takes on many forms- not just praise or instrumentation. That being the case...an even better question is "Which kind of worship is better...the kind that comes merely out of our lips in praise, or the kind that 'will not put an occasion to stumble in our brothers' way'?" (Romans 14:13)

    Just some food for thought.

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  9. As the church body, we simply need to do our part to guard our hearts and our words, regardless of our position on the drums. We need to pray for our pastors. Decisions like this are not easy. We can choose to get upset and invite division within the body of Christ or we can "let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, to which we are called in one body; and be thankful" (Col. 3:15).

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  10. I understand the hard decision that you have had to make. I do have questions about the future music of BBC though. Is it going to get to a point where we will not have an orchestra because someone doesn't like it and they feel that it isn't right? My home church was very similar to BBC (except they are Southern Baptist). We sang out of hymnals, no orchestra, just piano and organ. Once the new pastor came on (who is somewhat similar to pastor in his preaching), they started little by little with an orchestra, includig drums. This church has grown so much in the past 8 years and has had to build a bigger church. I also have a friend who goes to an Independent Baptist Church here in town that they wanted to add other musical instruments and the pastor would not agree to it. This church has lost members and hasn't gained any new members in probably 4 years. With that being said, music is to glorify God and it is what is in your heart and how you use it to glorify His Name.

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  11. This is a sad issue for me. One of the first things I noticed my first day at Berean is that the congregation sang some of the same songs I listened to on Christian music stations. We came from a small church with just a piano and hymnals and I truthfully could not wait until the obligatory three songs before collection were over. I discovered Christian Music about two years ago and love the fact that now instead of "Jack and Dianne" I now have "By his wounds we are healed" and "If we are the body" playing in my head through the day. It keeps my attention on the Lord. In spite of all that I have to support any decision prayerfully made by the pastors and am not changing my attendance. Music is not an important enough issue to loose the blessings that can be found at Berean.

    Rudy

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  12. Having lived in the "Rock & Roll" culture most of my UNSAVED LIFE, I have a hard time understanding why the drums are being called such a "symbol" of rock culture when, to me, the electric guitar has ALWAYS been the focal point. I respect your (Pastor Sean's) decision on this matter. I have enjoyed the music Pastor Jonathon Andrews has organized for us ALL. It bothers me to now know that there are some members who wait for the music to end before they enter the sanctuary due to ONE musical instrument. I still don't fully understand this issue with the drum set and the offence of it. For me, I know the music will be missed.

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  14. I'm sorry. So much ado about nothing. If drums have kept one person from being saved, remove them. But if some think we're not "Baptist" enough because of drums, Shame Shame. I will support this decision even though I think the entire subject is trivial.

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  15. When we visited Berean last year in the summer, we didn't come back because of the music...we thought it too contemporary for an independent fundamental baptist church.... Later after looking for a bus ministry to work in, we came back, knowing in our hearts that the service to God is greater that our preference in music. One day when we get to heaven , the music will be our voices to the Lord, and we will praise him forever.

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  16. Wow! What feedback. For me I like the drums and the person who plays them at church is my friend and neighbor. At first I was a little disappointed that the drums were in the "pit", then they were removed all together. But when I really took the time to think how offended others were, people that I respect and know that they were/are close to God; I had no problem with the removal. May God be blessed. I think that the Pastors really sought the answer from God and I am at peace with the decision. Now the point that I am upset with is how people are trying to push there type of music on others in the church. Everyone has their own taste in music. I worship differently than others do. I personally like Third day, Steven Curtis Chapman, Leeland, etc. I am sorry if you do not like what I listen to because it has the drums in it. That is where I cross the line. When we are in a group setting praising God I worship through hymns and feel close to God (without the drums). But how I choose to worship God and have intimate time with my Creator, than I feel I can listen the way I want. Please let the holy spirit speak to me on what is right. Roger I agree with you.
    Sarah Moniz

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  18. Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

    This has been an extremely hard decision to make by your team of pastors. I do not feel that anyone is being told they cannot use their God given talents. The youth group will still have the drum, the Spanish ministry will have all kinds of percussion instruments so that percussionist will still be able to exercise their gift. Should we go to a Saturday Night service they can use their talents there. Please note that not one pastor has declared the drums evil or sinful. However, they are a point of contention and as such we must move to perfer our brothers who are being hurt (and they are being hurt) by their presence. This is the most loving compromise (in my opinion) that can be made to help ALL to grow spiritually for God's glory. When we bicker and fight over this it hurts your team of pastors ability to serve God without a sense of grief and great deal of sleepless nights spent in prayer. Please, reread the verse at the beginning and pray that all will love the Lord more than our love for our preferences.

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  19. Thank you for your words and all who I have talked to face to face, I now have a more deep understanding of the hard decisions the postoral staff had to endure and support the staff.

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  20. I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW MUCH I HAVE STRUGLED WITH THE DRUMS AT BEREAN. I HAVE ALWAYS LOVE THE BEAT OF DRUMS AND CHRISTIAN MUSIC PLAYED WITH THEM. I CAN'T IMAGINE HOW TOUGH OF A DECISION THIS WAS FOR THE PASTORS OF THIS CHURCH BUT I KNOW OUR LORD JESUS HAD HIS HAND IN IT. WHEN I WAS OLD ENOUGH TO MAKE MY OWN DECISION ON WERE I COULD GO TO CHURCH, I LEFT A GREAT INDEPENDENT FUNDAMENTAL CHURCH AND WENT TO A NON-DENOMENATIONAL CHURCH. SOME PEOPLE MIGHT HAVE CALL IT A ROCK N ROLL CHURCH. I THOUGHT THAT THIS WAS THE BEST CHURCH EVER, UNTIL I SAW THAT PEOPLE WERE NOT WALKING THE AILE AND I COULD NOT SPRITUALLY GROW. ALL THAT I COULD SAY AFTER THE SERVICE WAS THAT I FELL GOOD.
    MY POINT IS THAT YOU DON'T NEED MUSIC TO REACH PEOPLE, YOU JUST NEED A PASTOR THAT PREACHES THE TRUTH AND A CHURCH FAMILY WHO LOVE ONE ANOTHER AND GOD WILL DO INCREDIABLE WORKS IN OUR HEARTS AND THE CHURCH. IF CHOISE OF MUSIC IS WHAT MAKES A CHURCHES ATTENDANCE LARGE, THEN I THINK PEOPLE ARE THERE FOR THE WRONG REASON. EVERY PASTOR ON STAFF DOES A FANTASTIC JOB ON PREACHING THE TRUTH AND I THINK THE DECISION WILL REMOVE THE STUMBLING BLOCK AND HELP OTHERS WHO HAVE STRUGLED LIKE ME. WE NEED TO FOCUS ON WHAT GOD HAS FOR US AND NOT WHAT WE WANT FOR OURSELVES.

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  21. I do believe the music ministry is doing a great job.

    I keep remembering the "Little Drummer Boy" and the Lyrics: "I have no gift to bring..... Shall I play for you.....on my Drum.....Then HE smiled at me.....me and my Drum." That song always touches my heart at Christmas time. If you have ever heard it, you may understand. The Drum can't be all that bad.

    I'm sure it was a tough decision to make; and I will abide by it because I love my fellow members. But I can't forget the Drummer's feelings too. He also is my brother in Christ. He has been given a great gift from GOD and uses it for the LORD.

    A new generation of children are growing up in our Church and are hearing the Drums praising the LORD. Now when they hear the Drums somewhere else, they will remember their Church and the Lord in connection with the Drums as an instrument of the Lord's.

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  22. I don't really have a dog in this "drum beat" fight.... this has never been a struggle for me. I do miss singing from the hymnals and singing many of the old and beloved hymns. Not sure why the hymnals are even in the pews anymore. Seems to be a waste. There seems to be some strange dichotomy in our music which I just don't get. We sing the 7/11 choruses over and over yet quibble over the drums. Perhaps the true message of Christ gets lost in the shuffle and the time wasted arguing over this issue. What's next?

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  23. We use the hymnals quite frequently on Sunday nights and consistantly sing the hymns from the hymn book sometimes from the book and sometimes on the wall and sometimes both. But one thing is for sure Jonathan does a great job in leading us in the hymns from the hymn book. In fact I am sure he could give us the percentage fairly easily, if asked.

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  24. Romans 12: 4-8 speaks of our differences as the parts of a body. All parts are needed for us to be "whole and healthy". Just as the Church body, our Church orchestra has different parts to its body. When one or more is missing or taken, the other parts suffer and don't work to their fullest potential. Whether we agree or not with decisions made by the pastoral staff on this subject, my family and I have made commitments to God and different Berean ministries. We will continue to serve and will be in our place whenever the Church doors are open. As the song Catherine J. quoted earlier states, "It's all about you Jesus."

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  25. Bob,

    Thank you for your loyal support of the work of the Kingdom of God. I enjoyed seeing Jimmy play and know his attitude sets a great example and he should be commended.

    Sean

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  26. I am having a hard time comparing drums to offending someone in song. If *WE* are in church and singing a song that is glorifying God and someone is offended then, then I believe that person needs to pray about that situation. Since we have established that the drums are not evil or good and that they were removed so not to be a stumbling block, why then put them with the youth who are currently dealing with MTV and such. I personally can not recall the drums ever being played in a way that came close to any rock band. The message today was on the Holy Spirit and I believe that if a few individuals are struggling with an issue then they might need to pray on it. I hope those that are offended do not become a stumbling block to those praising God through his gifts. I do not envy the leaders who had to deal with such a situation but do find it trivial to even become a situation. If we are here to honor God and the heart is right I need to question why I am really offended. The preaching is on point and the music is on point. May God continue to bless in spite of our thinking.

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  27. The past few years, our music has touched my heart in a way it never had in the past. Part of the reason may be because I began attending Berean as a child and the more traditional piano and organ music was all we had. As a child, I hadn't discovered God as I have as an adult. I can admit to rarely paying attention to the sermon- I was a child and ignorant. Our current music breaks my heart into pieces each and every time and prepares me to worship in such a way that I never experienced in my youth. Rarely has there been a Sunday morning service that I haven't (despite my best intentions) heard my voice crack and squeak as the tears began to flow- and still I HAD to keep singing. The music had BROKEN me. I felt I was truly opening my heart to the Lord and begging Him to just show mercy and forgive me for all of my stupidity and selfishness. I must admit, I uttered the words, "...the music isn't very good today" to a close friend two Sunday's ago. Who am I to critique our music and those that worked hard to minister through it, but in my sinful nature, I said it. I noticed and MISSED our "regular" music. But, that is MY weakness... I have evidently used the music as a crutch. I am an adult- a Christian. I need to listen and truly hear God's word because it is His word coming from a man ordained by God to preach it... not because I "really like the music." I will deeply, deeply miss the music I have come to love... the music that has changed my life. But, I must remember, it is God who has changed my life.

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  28. Pastor Sean has done an exceptional job trusting the Holy Spirit to grow Christians. Many people pray that God will use them and keep them out of the way as they minister, but it is rare to see someone truly trust God for the results.

    Pastor will preach on modesty and reputation... and although he may give a few examples, more often than not, he does not define every specific. He leaves it to the Holy Spirit and your conscience to clarify how it should work itself out in your life. He leaves room for spiritual maturity through moment by moment yielding to God rather than self righteousness through conformity.

    There are worldly churches out there however. Many other pastors of Independent Baptist Churches also seek to protect their flock from worldliness. Many of them will not preach modesty alone, but they will also preach specific personal preferences about pants, make up etc. I believe they mean well, but in an effort to protect, they may be preaching their own preferences as Bible.

    If a Christian has grown up being taught that Drums are worldly and for instance any kind of movie theater is forbidden, then they are going to believe deep deep down that if they don't protect themselves from drums or if they attend any theater they may suffer spiritually for it. They will feel a real emotional conviction about it.

    It does not mean that the offended person needs to get their heart right. I believe most of them are simply trying to KEEP their heart right. The Holy Spirit is perfect, but he uses our consciences and our consciences are not perfect. Many of us say "I do not have a problem with...." fill in the blank, but rarely do we say "Hmmm I wonder why another spirit filled believer sees this situation differently from me?" Could their ministry in my life be to help me grow sensitive in certain areas?" (Just a thought)

    I am sure that each of us have areas like that in which we need TIME to grow.

    Pastor has shown the wisdom of a head shepherd by taking ALL of his flock with ALL of their needs into consideration and giving them TIME to grow by making the Corinthians 8 decision.

    It may even be possible that the Christians who are convicted about the drums are being lead by the Holy Spirit to say something about it.

    I am glad that my Pastor cares for not only Jerusalem, but also Judea, Samaria and the uttermost part of the earth.

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  29. I am really having a hard time dealing with the drum issue and the word stumbling block and versus like James 4:17 used in this situation. I am also having a hard time listening to how those who may not have a problem with the drums should consider the feelings of those who do but was the same consideration given to those that worship and praise God through this medium. To be honest I rarley knew the drums were be played and probably want miss them. Where I do have an issue is how this sets a precedent for a paticular group to say " this is causing me not to fully worship God or whatever..." and it is not to get discussed or voted on. I plead ignorance to the church by-laws and aim to correct
    that but I have been in church almost 20 years (saved). As I have said before the drums are not my issue but that all the very comments(Scripture) given to why the majority should except the removal are just as valid to those that were offended by them. Maybe my backround does not afford me to see things as others but I do believe I am very opened minded and am very careful not to look at things close to me with a telescope. I am very troubled over the decision and best believe I will being praying that the Lord will give me peace( I definitely Need it). I will continue to support this local assembly until the Lord leads me elsewhere.

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  30. I wanted to comment briefly on the comment about not getting to vote. If I'm understanding correctly the main problem was the idea of not getting to vote or taking the opinion of the majority. I just want to say that I believe that voting would cause more division. Having been through a church split, spawned from the congregation voting, I would never recommend voting. I believe that decisions like this are for the pastor(s).

    Keep in mind that the majority vote is not always the right vote. I'm thinking specifically of the story Caleb and Joshua. In that case, in spite of how it looked from their perspective, the majority was wrong.

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  31. Yes, in THIS case the majority vote would be wrong, but not because drums are wrong. It would be wrong because of the possible stumbling block to our brethren.

    If the drums are really viewed as a worldly icon that have no place in Church, I cannot change that and will accept varying beliefs of the body for the sake of unity.

    I myself view us celebrating Halloween, a MAJOR worldly icon, as a bad thing. I am very opposed to it. No matter what we name it, it is still Halloween. It does present a stumbling block to me in many ways because of my past.

    Yet we are using it for an outreach oppurtinity. Be assured, God is blessing the lives of those reaching, and those accepting. This alone makes my feelings trivial in comparison to bringing glory to our God, and the lost to His Saving Grace.

    Back to the drums. When it comes to "cultural battles" like this, I often think of Hudson Taylor who was ridiculed for taking on the attire and hair style of the Chineese population. However, because he did this, he was accepted in many areas other missionaries were not. Did he compromise his faith by doing this? Not at all. His life style still reflected Christ. His mission was still to bring the knowledge of our Savior to lost people.

    As long as we let the Holy Spirit lead us, and not our emotions, we will see Him glorified.

    Jim

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  32. i do not believe that a specific way of doing music in church makes your decision based on worshiping drums should not cause a person to not worhip efectively or no drums in John4:24 it says to worship in spirit and in truth therfore it's in my heart when worshiping and having drums should not effect me and God!!

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