For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sometimes It's Good To Look To The Past

I’m a Stryper fan. I can’t help it. No apologies. As a newly saved teen who had been used to listening to AC/DC, VanHalen, etc., I just couldn’t get used to Sandi Patti (and that’s not a knock on Sandi, just a matter of taste). Praise God for folks like Petra, Resurrection Band, and yes, Stryper. Say what you want about the hair and spandex, these guys have talent and they love Jesus.

Although many may think they’ve left the scene, they’re still around. A new album (sorry, CD) came out a year or so ago, and then just recently they released something called The Roxx Regime Demos. For the uninitiated, Roxx Regime is the original name of the band, before they signed a record deal, and before they became the phenomenon called Stryper. This was their original demo album, now released for all of us to enjoy.

I love this CD. It may not have polish, but it has passion. You can hear that this is a bunch of young guys who love Jesus and just want to sing about it. It doesn’t have all the fine tuning of later releases, but that’s not all bad. The passion makes up for it.

Now, this isn’t just about Stryper, however much I might like them (and my good friend Rod might hate them!). This is about all of us. This is about the church, too. Sometimes, it’s good to go back. Sometimes it’s good to return to the days of raw passion, without all the refined polish.

The church today is much like a band that’s signed a major record deal. The producers have taken the raw talent and shaped it, refined it, maybe even edited it, to make it more marketable. The producer wants to sell records. Some in the church want to sell memberships and attendance and so on.

How nice it would be to return to the raw, natural passion of the early church. They didn’t care about marketability. They weren’t concerned with niche marketing and popularity and target audiences. They loved Jesus and wanted to sing about it, tell about it, live it day in and day out.

Some look at the New Testament church as rough around the edges. After all, they didn’t have new buildings with stadium seating. They didn’t have praise bands and light shows. Good grief, they didn’t even have a PowerPoint to play movie clips! But they had passion. They were a family of families who gathered for fellowship, prayer and learning from the apostles’ teachings. That’s what the church is all about.

I know progress can be a good thing. After all, I even use a PowerPoint to display my sermon outlines, the text for the morning, etc. And I obviously love modern musical styles. (What would Paul have said about Stryper? Hmm). But the key is in the motive. Are we looking to produce a polished product that appeals to the masses? Or are we just some folks who love Jesus and want to worship Him, proclaim His Word (however un-PC it might be), and fellowship with His people?

Sometimes it’s good to look to the past. I know all anecdotal preacher stories get attributed to Billy Graham, so I don’t know if this really happened. But I read one time that someone accused him of being old fashioned and setting the church back 50 years. His response was, “That’s too bad; I was hoping for a lot further back!”

Let’s go back and listen to the demos again (i.e. the New Testament). Let’s look at what the church should really be about. Let’s get back the passion we each had when we first came to know Him. Let’s not give into the worldly temptation to focus more on polished productions, and let’s just be the church God intended.


Hard to believe it’s been over a month since I opined in this space. In that time, we’ve had VBS and spent two weeks on vacation; the first one in over 5 years. It was good to be away for awhile, to spend a lot of good, fun, quality time with the family. But it’s good to be back at it, as well.

While I was away, the cloning issue has blown up again. It has been masterfully handled by the ever-vigilant Rodney Albert, among others. Read his comments here and here and here, as well as those he links to for a masterful account of the issue.

And since he’s done so well, I’ll just ease back after my vacation with some less stressful things like the next article to come. It may not have the profundity of the cloning debate, but I promise it will be fun.