"The hallmark of an authentic evangelicalism is not the uncritical repetition of old traditions, but the willingness to submit every tradition, however ancient, to fresh biblical scrutiny and, if necessary, reform."
-JOHN STOTT, TWENTIETH-CENTURY BRITISH MINISTER AND BIBLE SCHOLAR
"The real trouble is not in fact that the church is too rich but that it has become heavily institutionalized, with a crushing investment in maintenance. It has the characteristics of the dinosaur and battleship. It is saddled with a plant and a programme beyond its means, so that it is absorbed in problems of supply and preoccupied with survival. The inertia of the machine is such that the financial allocations, the legalities, the channels of organization, the attitudes of mind, are all set in the direction of continuing and enhancing the status quo. If one wants to pursue a course which cuts across these channels, then most of one's energies are exhausted before one ever reaches the enemy lines."
-JOHN A. T. ROBINSON, TWENTIETH-CENTURY ENGLISH NEW TESTAMENT SCHOLAR
WALK INTO ANY CHRISTIAN CHURCH service and you'll find it will usually begin with the singing of hymns, choruses, or praise and worship songs. One person (or a team of people) will both lead and direct the singing. In more traditional churches, it will be the choir director or the music minister. (In some churches, this role is even played by the senior pastor.) Or it may be handled by the choir itself. In contemporary churches, it will be the worship leader or the praise and worship team.
Leading up to the sermon, those who "lead worship" select the songs that are to be sung. They begin those songs. They decide how those songs are to be sung. And they decide when those songs are over. Those sitting in the audience in no way, shape, or form lead the singing. They are led by someone else who is often part of the clerical staff—or who has similar stature.
This is in stark contrast to the first-century way. In the early church, worship and singing were in the hands of all of God's people.' The church herself led her own songs. Singing and leading songs was a corporate affair, not a professional event led by specialists.
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