PEW POTATOES Contemporary Christian Music

The Spuds had three daughters, all of whom went away to college. There they met and dated several different people. All three became engaged at the same time, and went home to tell their parents.  The oldest daughter said, “Mom, Dad, I have some good news. I’m getting married!”  The parents asked, “So who is the lucky fellow?”  “His name is Daniel Russet,” the daughter said, with a hint of pride in her voice.  “Wonderful!” The proud parents exclaimed. “The Russets are a distinguished line of potatoes!”  The middle daughter said, “Mom, Dad, I have good news, too. I’m also engaged to be married.”  “And who are you going to marry, dear?”  “His name is Benjamin Idaho,” the daughter replied.  “Oh, the Idahos are a fine old potato family,” Mom and Dad Spud said. “We’re so happy for both of you!”  The youngest daughter’s turn came. She said, “Mom, Dad, you won’t believe this. I’m engaged, too!”  “And who is your lucky fellow?” the parents wanted to know.  His name is Bill O’Reilly of Fox News,” was the reply.  At this the parents looked at their youngest daughter with a disapproving stare. “But, honey,” they gasped. “That won’t do at all! Why, he’s just . . . a common tater!”
In today’s Pastor’s Page, I want to take on the role of a commentator, in particular as it regards what contemporary Christian music is doing to worship.  But let me begin by looking back into history.

Before The Reformation – Worship was largely done for the people.  The music was performed by musicians at the front and the congregation just sat and watched.  And even if the people wanted to sing along, they couldn’t. The songs were all in Latin and generally void of any attainable melody by lay people.
During The Reformation – Worship was largely done by the people.  It became participatory as song leaders used simple, melodious tunes with solid, scriptural lyrics in the language of the people.  And the evolution of the printed hymnal brought with it an explosion of congregational singing and the church’s love for such music greatly increased.
After The Reformation – Worship is largely done for the people.  In contemporary churches you are seeing a return to the pre-Reformation format.  The music is once again performed by musicians at the front and the congregation once more just sits there and watches.  And even if the people wanted to start singing along, they can’t.  The lyrics lack a consistent metre rhyme and the tunes are void of simple, repetitive melodies.
And the result?  When someone sits at home on the sofa and watches others perform on the television, we call them couch potatoes.  And so when someone sits in church and watches others perform at the front, a new term has been coined, pew potatoes.
The bottom line?  At Wingham Baptist Church, whether it’s an old hymn or a new song, the number-one criteria is – is it singable for people who can’t sing.  Because the only potatoes we want to see here on the Lord’s Day, are those served at Sunday dinner.