I like Keith. He is a talent person and an excellent writer. If he would limit his efforts to conducting 'singing schools' and working within the limits of a 'song leader' or a 'preacher' I could be one of his supporters. Keith could be a great contributor to the body of Christ if Keith would stop working for 'change.' Yet even in the face of opposition and turmoil, Keith seeks change in worship styles.
Keith promotes 'positions', that are unknown in the Scriptures, equal to and above that of preaching! Yes Keith puts 'worship leaders' above preachers. Keith declares that churches will die and the young will leave, if we don't have 'worship leaders.' Keith causes problems in some of the congregation he goes to by promoting such a strange (meaning not found in the Scriptures) doctrine. Some places that were at peace are in turmoil when Keith leaves.
Keith declares that his understanding of praise trumps all others.
Well here, read it for yourself. Keith wrote this:
<font color=blue>'I shared openly about the curse of divided leadership, having personally witnessed the horrors that result when elderships divide right down the middle. The analogy that comes to my mind is one of a struggling child who is torn between conflicting directives between the mother and father. Children in this kind of environment become the casualties, and such is also the case for church members.
We are facing no shortage of church spats, challenges and sharply divided leadership over options regarding styles and direction in worship. Worship settings can provide a most positive and indescribable foretaste of Heaven's sweetness, or it can be a disastrous minefield leading to tragic and ugly consequences.
Of course, we long to avoid those painful and unnecessary experiences. What are the solutions? I don't have all the answers, by any means, but I do have some advice.
1. When hiring ministers and staff, let's not place all our emphasis on the pulpit without consideration of the important aspect of worship. The delivery of God's Word is of paramount importance; however, we should not neglect the high and noble privilege of Christians expressing praise to our mighty God. It is refreshing to finally witness Worship Ministry as a major that's being offered in many of our Christian colleges.
2. We need to emphasize all kinds of training. Congregational singing training. Musical training for all ages. Lessons on worship. Instruction on how to pray effectively in public. Worship leader training. We won't improve if we don't invest. We encourage preachers to continue their education - yet precious few congregations are investing in training their worship leaders. We should sponsor our gifted leaders to attend worship training clinics.
3. Prioritize through planning. Compare the effort required in preparation for the sermon to the rest of the elements of the worship assembly. As we make the most of our opportunities, there is so much we can do to assure we produce meaningful assemblies. How can we provide an environment that is most conducive to worship while encouraging the highest level of participation? Worship ministers and worship committees should continually strive to improve the worship experience, fully aware of the diverse needs of the entire church family.
4. Focus on evangelism and future growth. How do our worship styles relate to visitors? Do they sense that God is present? What about our young people? Are they tuning out and feeling neglected during our gatherings? Do we consider their tastes and heart language? Do we encourage their involvement? Should leaders be surprised when some young people leave the faith or search for a more "vibrant" worship experiences at their first opportunity? Do we allow older Christians (some who remain spiritually immature and insensitive to others) to callously insist on everyone catering to their tastes and preferences? It's mandatory that we consider these implications in all our decisions regarding our assemblies.
5. Think of others first. Okay, this is one of the most basic tenets of our faith - yet I never cease to be amazed by how some Christians treat each other. I believe that mature Christians have a greater responsibility to be sensitive to the needs of others, thus emulating our Lord's attitude. I cannot overestimate the importance of this point. Most church fights could be avoided if we heeded the admonition of Philippians 2:4-8. It's not complicated - just think of others' needs first. The applications are obvious and the rewards are plentiful. Leaders must lead by example and create an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect.
6. Train our people how to deal with conflict and differing opinions. Diversity is healthy. Gossip, discord and back-biting are debilitating. Jesus provides clear instruction on how we should deal with conflicts and offenses. No doubt, we'll be best served if we put His instructions into practice. Just as families need to learn how to disagree, we need to train our people to deal with conflicts in a healthy manner.
7. Leaders must be UNIFIED. Whatever it takes, the men of God who lead our congregations must make unity a priority. It must be apparent to the entire church that their unity is unshakable. I like the saying, "Everyone gets their say, but not everyone gets their way." A unified leadership will go a long way toward solving problems; and more importantly, toward avoiding the perilous trauma of so-called "worship wars." As leaders seek the heart of God, we'll see less intolerance, selfishness and combativeness.
I receive all kinds of feedback about our Praise & Harmony workshops. Some comments mean the most in providing confirmation that we are actually serving God's purposes. When a minister told me recently, "This was a very unifying experience for our congregation," I was overjoyed. Having witnessed rancorous church conflicts first hand, my desire is to equip others for the challenges ahead. My minister friend went on to say, "The people who are impatiently pushing for changes in our congregation are rethinking their approach, while the ones who are fighting any kind of change are rethinking their resistance as well. It is very healthy."
I'm convinced that our churches must learn to adapt and change, or we will die. I'm equally convinced that we can accomplish this in a loving, unified approach without leaving anyone behind, provided they are genuinely seeking the mind of Christ. Inevitably, some will refuse the counsel of godly leadership and insist on getting "their way" at all costs.
Children may not agree with their parents decisions, but they have a much better opportunity when those parents are unified in godly decisions. In the same way, our church families look to leadership for unity. One way to make the journey all the sweeter for all is for those who are given the gift and burden of leadership to make a conscious decision for unity. </font>*
<font size=1>*taken from site: http://keithlancaster.blogplugs.com/ Scroll down about 3/4 of the page.</font>
Mr. XXXX, these are Keith's words. Keith writes, 'We are facing no shortage of church spats, challenges and sharply divided leadership over options regarding styles and direction in worship. Worship settings can provide a most positive and indescribable foretaste of Heaven's sweetness, or it can be a disastrous minefield leading to tragic and ugly consequences.
Of course, we long to avoid those painful and unnecessary experiences. What are the solutions? I don't have all the answers, by any means, but I do have some advice.(end of quote)
I do have the answer. If it ain't broke don't break it. Stop trying to bring forced changes into peaceable congregations! Jesus said 'blessed are the peace makers. Jesus had another message for those who trouble the congregations.