We have observed over the last 50-60 years, the majority of evangelical churches changing from being Bible-centred to being music-dominated.
When the churches were Bible-centered, the Bible dominated their meetings. The preaching and teaching of the Word of God was the primary purpose for the meetings. The believers came to hear God speak to them. The singing was preparation for the preaching of the Word. The presentation of offerings was also an act of worship and was preparation of the heart to receive the Word of God.
Fellowship was important also, but the fellowship also centered in the Word of God. The quiet, shared amen in their hearts to the truths of God’s Word, was the center of the unity of God's people, the unity of the Spirit. The entire meeting was focused on Christ, all fed upon Him as the bread of life, the Word was broken. The shared testimonies focused on Christ and the promises of His word which had been fulfilled in their lives.
Today the whole scenario has drastically changed. The term “worship” has changed the perception of what church is about. The meaning of worship has greatly changed. Formerly, it meant to listen to the voice of God and to give a response out of a heart touched by His love and grace and mercy. Today the term worship is used by the pastor and the worship leader, to refer to an emotional response created by the music. The fact that the song leader is now called the worship leader is evidence that worship is now viewed as the emotional response to the music. Because the music is now the worship, it is the center of the purpose of the meeting. Therefore it must be professional and it must dominate the service.
The worship in this environment is all about the music, the music must please the crowd, if it is a carnal crowd it must be carnal or sensual music. Music has great power to create an emotional response, as can be seen in a rock concert. The worship in the new evangelical church is totally opposite to the worship in the evangelical/fundamental church of 60 years ago. The difference is as between night and day.
Today the preaching of the Word of God almost seems to be a necessary evil. It is to be short and sweet. It is to enhance the feelings created by the music.
The teaching of sound doctrine and great biblical truths are not acceptable any more. The sheep are not fed, sin is not exposed, easy-believism is substituted for the gospel. The church is filled with pseudo Christians who must be entertained to bring them back. Any serious rebuke from scripture will turn away a majority of the uncommitted in the congregation.
One observer in reference to the change has stated, “Music became more emotionally intense, and a confusion between the emotional and the spiritual helped set music on an untouchable pedestal. Worship had become something one felt, not something one did. Worship was judged as good or bad based upon how it made worshippers feel. The Scriptures no longer defined good worship; the individual had become the discerner of truth based upon how he felt.”
The whole scenario involves the transition from the church of Philadelphia to the Church of Laodicea. The fate of Laodicea is to be spewed out of the Lord’s mouth into the tribulation period. Laodicea is now in the ascendency; Philadelphia is now a remnant and is destined to be caught up to be with Christ in the rapture.
I do not believe that we can fully understand this transition, unless, we understand the events of the late 1940's. This transition began at that time, with the birth of New Evangelicalism. New Evangelicals decided that they would make a major change in, among other things, their approach to the world. They decided to end separation from the world and to end confrontation with the world. The new approach would be an attempt to win the world over to Christ by trying to impress the world and to accommodate the world. The changes in the evangelical church we now see, flow out of those decisions.
Thank the Lord there are still some Philadelphian Churches around; rejoice in the Lord when you find one.