[NOTE: I wrote this in 2001, and it was published a couple of places (see bottom) but I'm putting here just so I don't lose it.]
By Tim Logan
Maybe you’ve walked my road.
Once, while visiting our church, an energetic, young evangelist announced to the congregation that I needed an anointing. I did. I do. I wondered how he knew, but then realized it must be my music style. So I changed it. Before that, there was a fellow in my church who made fun of me because my music wasn’t to his tastes. After the metamorphosis, he made fun of me because I was trying to do something I didn’t do very well. And I still needed an anointing. God wasn’t in the music style.
I read everything I could about worship trends - all the magazines, every book on “new worship,” even browsed a number of Web sites. If there were an answer, it would surely be there somewhere. I learned a lot, but still, according to some church members, I wasn’t getting the results Guy Crosstown was getting. God wasn’t in the books, the magazines, or the Web sites.
I went to seminars, observed other churches, studied techniques, bought the latest music, and collected all the electronics. But God wasn’t there, either. I looked.
I cried out, “Where are You, God? What’s Your style? Hymns or choruses? Robes or polo shirts with church logos? Shiloh, come!” I was at the end of myself. I just wanted to worship - it didn’t matter how or where.
Then one day I found myself in the depths of the Zambezi River basin standing under a tree waiting to have church with a small, startup congregation. We waited a while, and then waited some more. Eventually, we had about 20 men, women, and children and one dog. One of the men had an accordion. They sang and spoke in a language I didn’t understand; they danced (which I don’t do at all - Baptist, you know), they shooed flies and rocked back and forth on log benches, and nursed infants. A man in a yellow shirt came and sat outside the perimeter, listened to our songs, then went away. We were there nearly four hours.
But something happened that I couldn’t explain. I worshiped. I didn’t have to speak or sing. It wasn’t the people; it wasn’t the tree or the language or the atmosphere. God was there, and I can’t explain it any other way. Why was He there? I still don’t know.
When we left, we passed another tree-church down the road. We saw the man in the yellow shirt. He was teaching our songs to his congregation. No accordion; they used drums.
The angels didn’t agree over worship way back when; neither did Cain and Abel. Elijah had quite a disagreement with the priests of Baal, and Jesus had a bit of a problem with the sons-of-snakes He ran into in the temple. Turns out there really were right and wrong sides. Shiloh, come.
But are our problems the same? Buzzwords like “seeker-sensitive,” “praise chorus,” and “traditional worship” encircle us like south Arkansas B-2 Stealth mosquitoes, proving almost as aggravating. Is there a solution? Spray them with holy water?
There are some good books and lots of articles out there. Has anyone succeeded in changing any minds? No hard evidence of conversions to date, only rededications. You must be careful to read the right books, after all.
Do we continue debating? Tally baptism and attendance figures and copy whatever the winner does? Ignore each other while pledging to remember each other in our prayers?
So many questions. Shiloh, come.
I can’t enforce worship. I can’t require you to dance my dance or sing my songs. But as my friend Rob says, I can love you enough to sing yours with you. Will you love me enough to sing mine with me? We can love God together.
Everything’s blurred. Why is it that I can’t focus? Do I spend too much time trying to please everyone in the pews, singing the right songs, playing the right instruments, searching for the right “blend?” I fear I could lose my job if I don’t do as well as Guy Crosstown.
We are confused, and we have disobeyed. Jesus prayed that His followers would have one heart, one mind. We have left Your Way and followed our own. Now we have many hearts, many minds. Help us to hear You, to experience You, to follow You – together, as one – as You and Your Son are one.
That must be it: I’m out-of-focus, my lenses are dirty. Help me see You. Wash my eyes with tears of repentance. Help me to live Your life every day so that others will see You, too.
I just want to love You – not talk about it, not argue over it, just love You. You are God!
Yes, there are still unanswered questions, but can we talk about them another time? Right now, God is here.
Shiloh has come!
(See Genesis 49:10)
"Shiloh Come," Originally published in the Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine, June 7, 2001; Also in Church Musician Today, January 2002; All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2001, Tim Logan