Wednesday, August 16

Be Critical, but please be fair.

Here's an email that I got from a small group leader that just moved away from our church. Look through some of the different things he says that are humorous, and try to see what is fair and what isn't.

While I'm *not* for people doing church like this (read more than five posts on [retro] and you'll see that), let me point out a couple of things that I feel are unfair in this critique.

(1) The worship leader who used the word "I", "me", or "my" in every sentence. - I hear this often, including critiquing songs that mention the exact same words. I don't think that means the song is self-centered automatically. Read the Psalms. "Bless the Lord, O MY SOUL, and ALL THAT IS WITHIN ME, bless his holy name" is not self-centered even though the person is talking to himself. I want to look at things more holistically than a simple word count.

(2) Before the service, they kept playing the theme song over and over as a clock ticked down the minutes and seconds for the service to begin. Do they not know about the whole "preparing you heart" thing. - Is the preservice countdown supposed to prepare our hearts, or is that our responsibility? While I understand that some things are more condusive and other things are more distracting, I surely want to encourage everyone (including myself) to assume this responsibility. At the same time, as a service planner, I want to provide things that are more CONDUSIVE.

(3) The "auditorium". I know lots of churches that call their main meeting hall a "sanctuary" or "worship center" and totally act like ... whatever. I know words are important. I'm trying to pick mine very carefully. But let's be gracious with some semantic issues. Names sometimes are very important, but sometimes, it's just what we call it.

However, no bibles? Anywhere? Bad sign.


Anonymous said...

As a leader/worship pastor in a church do you think that it was an appropriate response to paste this to your blog, a private conversation between you and this individual?

Do you think that the elders or JMD at HBC would condone or appreciate you posting this information on the internet?

What were you trying to prove?

Any other coorperate job would have fired you for talking about personal information on your blog.

Just a curious reader and member of HBC who thinks this is beneath you.

Matthew Westerholm said...

Wow. I "moderate" my comments, which means that I can pick which ones show up and which ones don't. I've never been tempted *not* to post one before, but that's all the more reason to post it. Thanks for the gut check.

(1) I didn't think of this as a private conversation, but as a critique of a church service that brought up some good points. Are there portions of this post that contain personal information, or some other criteria by which to judge these paragraphs as unsharable? A godly man in our church forwarded this to several people on staff as an encourgement and stimulus to our team, and it got me thinking.

In the interest of total disclosure, I didn't check with the person before I pasted the post. I probably should have. I didn't really see it as correspondence, which it is.

(2) What information do you think Pastor James or my elders would object to? I have used this forum (and many others) to discuss worship services before. Have those been O.K.?

(3) I don't think I was trying to "prove" anything. Is there something in the post that sounds like that? I hope my humility and openess in this is evident to you. I was interacting with discussion about a different worship service... a discussion that provoked thinking about what I do, and how I do it.

(4) Is there something in this post that defames the ministry I work in, or the church I work for? Honestly. If there's something that I need to go confess to my elder board about, I'll do it this afternoon. I'm serious.

James has been very personally supportive of my blogging and interaction with people on the web. His only encourgements were to speak out more boldly. (Isn't that just like him? :-)

(5) Curious Reader, please help me. I'm not seeing the problem clearly, and I won't without some help. If you'd like to email me personally, you can get the address off my profile.

Gerald said...


Thanks for the fair review of your friends email. I too have often felt that the "it's too me centered" critique over-reaches at times. Your referencing the Psalms is right on. Piper's "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him" goes a long way toward establishing the proper harmony between God's glory and our/my happiness.

And I must say I'm a bit puzzled by the above critique, especially the bit about "talking about personal information on your blog." Isn't that the point of a blog? I didn't quite follow the point the person was trying to make. Typically, on my blog I delete critical comments when they are posted anonymously. Gracious of you to post it.

Matthew Westerholm said...

I've also removed the quote to be fair to the discussion were having. I still have the original. This might minimize the conversation to fewer people, but Curious Reader and I probably would agree that its best for right now. If you are a long-time reader and commenter with [retro] and would like to read it to gain more exposure, send me an email. If I think the conversation would be helped by additional insight, I'll copy it to you.

Anonymous said...

anonymous critique e-mails would turn a corporate company into uproar too.
anonymous critique is mute.

Anonymous said...

So what's wrong with me centered worship?

Anonymous said...

There is nothing inherently wrong with anonymous critique usually. If I say "Songs in the key of F#m do not work" it doesn't matter who I am, what matters is if the idea is tested.

On the other hand, if I say, "I saw Joe Smith coming out of a bar", then who I am may have relevence.

I like this quote from the recent Reuter's fiasco:

The fact that the online community rather than fellow mainstream media has become a watchdog of accuracy has surprised many who originally derided blogs as being "devoid of accuracy."

"In a blog you don't have to be accurate to anyone but yourself and your readers," said Laya Millman from the blog. "There is a great deal of accountability because, if you get anything wrong, the readers will quickly, very quickly, point it out."