open letter

An Open Letter to Worship Leaders

Scott Swain offers advice for avoiding worship song fluff:

I have rarely (alright, never) been asked to give input regarding the weekly “worship set.” However, having witnessed Christian worship in local churches, Christian camps, seminary chapels, and other venues over the past 43 years, I have come to the conclusion that you could use some help.

I know you’ve heard complaints before about the excessive repetition, lack of depth, and over-realized eschatology that characterizes so many contemporary worship songs. I’m not writing to beat those old drums (though I could play them like Neil Peart). I want to address another topic.

Though I’m not an authority on this topic (no creature is), I do feel I am in a good position to say something about it. From my childhood I have been taught the Scriptures, which are able to make one wise on this topic. I engaged in formal graduate level study of this topic for eight years. And I have been teaching this topic to seminary students for the past thirteen years.

The topic is “Jesus.” Now I realize you may feel like you have some expertise on this topic as well since you regularly lead us in singing about it. However, I’ve noticed something over the past few decades that is cause for concern. The “Jesus” of which you have us sing is regularly used as the subject of verbs which describe actions that were neither assigned to him by the Father in eternity past, nor realized by him on the stage of history through his incarnation, public ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement at the Father’s right hand, nor are they actions that Jesus has promised to perform in the near or distant future.

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