Published (10-13-2009)

Paul's Epistle...
"Feel-Good Responses (Church)"

Two weeks ago I wrote about how too many so-called Gospel songs that are being put out there today – even by top artists – really don't include any meaningful reference to the Gospel. Last week I shared with you some of the responses from readers of this newsletter about the music.

But many of the readers also picked up on my mention that the same situation is developing in far too many churches today – a "feel-good" message is being delivered that is only obliquely related to the true Gospel message.

Here are a few responses dealing with this aspect:

"I appreciate what you said in your epistle. This is the exact same thing I warn my congregation about. The church has gotten too worldly and the world has gotten too churchy. What I mean by that is that you can't tell the difference between the two.... Sound the trumpet because one day we will all stand before a holy God and give an account." – Pastor Brian S.

"At a time when we should be preaching more, we seem to be preaching less." – E. B.

"I agree with your thoughts on this ‘feel-good mentality' that has crept into the church. Thankfully we have a pastor who still preaches on the ‘hard stuff,' but so many young Christians today (or rather, immature Christians) do not want any part of a Gospel that calls sin ‘sin,' or calls us to bear fruit in our lives if we claim the name of Christ..." – P. B., Mississippi

"Got your newsletter today and I copied and pasted it and sent it to a number of people. We couldn't agree with you more. We're in Winnipeg and for the most part the churches here are going more and more liberal. No hymns, barely any Bible reading, an opening little prayer and that's it. Lots of noisy music." – M. & K. E.

[From a college student.] "I fear that many churches, especially larger ones, are falling into the trap of pleasing people rather than pleasing God. I recently heard a pastor at a church I attended say that the reason they sang the music they did was because people don't like Southern Gospel anymore. I don't believe that for a second since I know many people to do. Aside from songs, I also feel that our preachers are lacking in giving out the Gospel message..." – A. J.

"I sing with a Southern Gospel quartet and this very thing has bothered me for a few years now. When you're at various churches, singing conventions and so forth, everything is about getting the numbers in! And caressing the unsaved to feel good and positive right where they are. No one wants to face their sin and [that they] may have to give something up and commit to God and others instead of self!" – K. M.

"When we leave the Gospel message out of our songs or our worship services, I think we leave the thing that makes us different from the rest of the world. I have heard some pastors actually brag about removing the old hymnals from their church. They sing (as we say here in Kentucky) off the wall. I hope that they did not take Christ from their church along with the old hymnals." – C. R.

One reason I'm spending so much time on these responses is that I want you to understand that you are not alone in feeling the way you apparently do about this matter of eternal significance.

Another reason is that I hoped it would have – and, in fact, it already has had – an impact even beyond music. One missionary in Africa wrote me last week to say it has encouraged him to challenge some questionable activities of a mission board with which he works. And there's more:

"As a pastor it made me stop and reflect on my own activities in ministry and in the programs at our little country church. You are absolutely right on your approach to Gospel music, and we should take that same approach in our personal Christian lives and church ministries... Our programs should be designed to either reach people for Christ or to build up in the faith the people we've already reached for the Lord." – Pastor A. O., Quincy, KY

All of this has prompted me to redouble my resolve to select only the most God-honoring music for my broadcast. Sometimes I might fall short, but the bar has been raised. And a few other broadcasters have written to say they intend to do likewise.

Here's one final word on this matter. It's a story Milton "Big MO" Ostrander told on my broadcast recently about the impact of a Gospel song:

"You know, one guy called and he said, ‘I'm riding down the road. Someone gave me a copy of your CD. I didn't buy it. I didn't really want to hear it because I'm not into Gospel music. But I turn it on, I give it a chance. The very first song just grips my heart.' And he said, ‘I can't take it. I've been running from God all this time. I pulled along the side of the road. I still got indentations from gravel in my knees where I knelt down beside the road in front of my car and gave my heart to God because of your song... I'm calling you right now because your number's on the CD. I just wanted you to know.' ...You know, this is more important to God – and should be to us – than anything else..."

A Gospel-less "feel-good" song wouldn't – couldn't – do that.

- Paul

PS: If you missed the original "Feel-Good" article you can read it online here:

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