Monday, May 05, 2008

Taking Issue With the Chapman Philosophy

Well, being that I've got a big debate coming up (it'll probably be about 7 blogs, each with my writing and my opponents) I wasn't going to write anything until then, but I saw advice so treacherous I had to take issue with it.

Don Chapman is a fairly prominent worship leader, his WorshipIdeas newsletter reaches over 50,000 people every week (including me). At one point I was so fed up with what Mr. Chapman said I un-subscribed, but eventually they started sending the newsletters to me again anyway. At any rate you can find out more about Chapman here: and www.worshipideas.blogspot.

I've never met Chapman, I don't know him personally, and I'm not here to judge his character in any way. But as he has proposed what I think is not just a bad idea, but an unbiblical one, I must confront that.

I was going through my inbox, and saw the Worshipideas e-mail, and I saw the title was about hiring non-Christians for your worship team. Based on my past experience I thought "Oh I'll have to disagree with him", and I thought that rightly so. Chapman proposes that hiring non-Christians on your worship team can be a great way to enhance your musical talent and also evangelize.

It seems like a good idea in theory, but truthfully I think it falls short. Matthew 15:8-9 states " ‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.’" (NIV)
Upon examining the word for worship here we see it is Sebomai in the Greek. It means “To revere, stressing the feeling of awe or devotion” (Vine’s). Or “To revere, i.e. adore:--devout, religious, worship.” (Quickverse).

Now most of the time in the New Testament the word translated worship is Proskuneo. So why use Sebomai here? Well the verse quotes Isaiah 29:13. Notice that the definition of Sebomai here stresses reverence and adoration. The Biblical standard of worship goes far beyond a Sunday morning service, it refers to a consistent lifestyle of reverence, devotion, and service to God. In light of this by hiring a non-Christian to serve on a worship team one is putting an individual on said team that is worshiping in word only while the individual's heart is far from God.

This not only threatens the unity of the worship team, but it also makes the non-Christian a hypocrite, and sets a bad example. Worship team members are co-workers in the worship leading process. People in the congregation don't look at that stage and just see instrumentalists, they see worshipers and worship leaders. When the Apostles considered administrators to distribute food they required those people be full of the Spirit and wisdom (Acts 6:3). Any leader in any capacity in the Church should be someone of high integrity. There are high standards for deacons ("the practical servants of the Church" according to David Guzik), which, though it refers to a specific office in most American Churches (e.g.-the deacon board), does not have such a political definition in the Greek.

In addition to sacrificing the Biblical model of leadership, having a non-Christian on a worship team is just asking for discord. I'm not saying a non-believer can't play instruments, that would be absurd, but in terms of their approach to worship and the Church in general they will have radically different ideas. I remember at camp there were a few staff members (kitchen staff and maintenance) that were not very committed Christians. While other counselors and I tried to set godly examples and get the campers focused on God, these staff members would negate our work by keeping them aimed at the carnal. What's worse is the campers had the impression they could follow these staff member's example (and they should have been able to, but there is sometimes a discrepancy between a testimony written on paper and one lived out). As you might imagine this could have detrimental effects on one's faith.

Worship leaders and worship teams are not much different. They should be spiritual leaders as well. Mr. Chapman has complained in the past that most Church boards are made up of business men rather then Spirit-filled believers, but what he is proposing here is no different. If you don't want worldly business men orchestrating your Church's business why would you want wordly instrumentalists on your worship team? I don't think it takes a genius to figure out the error here.

No serious minister would hire a youth pastor hoping "he might get saved after a while", so why would one hire worship team members with the same hope? I think we need to take spiritual leadership in any form seriously. It is not only ordained ministers who are called to have high moral character. Let us not forget the first Christian martyr was not an apostle or bishop, but an administrator, almost a layperson by today's standards.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read Don's article. I just hope, one day in heaven, that you don't run into the person who got saved... the unsaved person who was a hired musician in the praise band. I'm sure it would be awkward. But then again, you really don't care about someone receiving Christ, do you -- you care more about your standards.

Wed Dec 10, 09:50:00 PM 2008  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Thanks for your thoughts Anonymous,

I do care about people receiving Christ. I care about it deeply. But not every method of evangelism is an acceptable one.

I certainly hope Don and yourself do not run into starving children in Africa who could have had food if that Church did not pay its musicians. There are villages in Africa that will not allow Christians to build any type of worship center. But when missionaries build a well for that village they are often given land to build on (in one instance by Muslim leaders). You tell me, should we sacrifice the method of evangelism Jesus established to keep up with Don's latest idea? Should we spend more and more on hiring unsaved individuals to pay them to come to a Christian atmosphere with the hope they'll eventually accept Christ?

I think with the one guy who received Christ we can say it was God working in spite of our methodology, not because of it.

God bless!

Thu Dec 11, 07:46:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Samuel said...

When I saw "Taking Issue with the Chapman Philosophy" I thought this post was going to be about Dog the Bounty Hunter (Duane Chapman).

I used to like Dog until he tacti-cooled up some paintball guns and began using them. If somebody had a gun looking thing and was flashing a laser sight through my window - well, in Oklahoma, those things can get you shot.

But his whole capture-the-bad guy and then Jesus talk to them.... it's novel and entertaining at least.

Sorry for an off-topic comment. Maybe a future post in honor of Dog the Bounty Hunter, on-fire Christian, is due?

Sun Dec 27, 09:41:00 PM 2009  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Sorry about the confusion, I'm not entirely sure what I'd write about Dog the Bounty Hunter. I've only seen the show twice, but I'll keep that in mind.

Mon Dec 28, 07:55:00 AM 2009  

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