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‘Historically’ a cappella churches with instrumental services returned to national directory

Since its beginning, each edition of Churches of Christ in the United States, published by 21st Century Christian, has denoted subgroups within the fellowship, including churches that use one cup in communion or practice mutual edification and oppose the use of paid ministers.
But in 2009, the last edition of the directory made headlines when it omitted 21 congregations — including The Hills Church of Christ in North Richland Hills, Texas — for using instrumental music in at least one Sunday worship service.
As the Nashville, Tenn.-based publisher puts the final touches on its 2012 directory, however, it has reversed course.
The Hills church — formerly known as the Richland Hills church — will be included in the new directory, along with other “historically” a cappella congregations self-identified with the non-instrumental fellowship.
Carl H. Royster, system administrator and data compiler for Churches of Christ in the United States, explained in an e-mail to The Christian Chronicle:

The instrumental/a cappella issue has been examined, discussed and reexamined multiple times over the past couple of years between ourselves, other similar data collectors, the congregations involved and a few other individuals. Of course, as always, the approach has been and continues to be focused from a statistical and historical data collection standpoint. This is especially important since we and many other similar compilers submit our data to the Religious Congregations and Membership Study .
During the discussion process, it was determined that most of the congregations in question do continue to identify themselves as what we in the “religious bodies statisticians world” term as “independents,” meaning that they have chosen not to identify with any denomination or religious body. In addition, a few were verified as having chosen to identify with the Christian Church/Church of Christ, or they were simply misidentified at some point in the past as a congregation of the Churches of Christ. In both cases, coordinated efforts were established between ourselves and the appropriate data collectors to see that those congregations (as well as any future discoveries) were accounted for properly.
The handful of remaining congregations that adopted Sunday instrumental worship service practices, yet have chosen to still identify themselves as part of the historically a cappella Churches of Christ have all been included in the coming CCUSA 2012 data. Two new self-identifying characteristic codes were added for the congregations to describe themselves with as having some or all of their worship services involving instruments.
In order to accomplish this goal that all congregations be accounted for statistically, we were required to make a slight modification to the scope definition of the CCUSA project by inserting the word “historically” into the text. Future statistical reports will be footnoted when and where appropriate to help with the proper interpretation of the data being presented.

A new code also will be added to the directory to identify racially diverse Churches of Christ, where the minority racial group(s) represents at least 25 percent of adherents. Royster noted:

There were actually more congregations to identify with this characteristic than I had anticipated, which I think is good.

The Christian Chronicle welcomes and encourages feedback that promotes thoughtful and respectful discussion. Please refer to our comment policy for more details.

  • Feedback
    Does having services on Sat. nite change anything? Why can’t we do what the bible says and let it be. Sad part is that these Big guys think no one can read the bible and understand it, some other churches do. May God forgive us. The next 52yrs and the church will like the Dark ages. Romans 14:12. Quit trying to be like the world.
    Jack Gillils
    December, 6 2011
    I applaud this change.
    I will personally thank Mr. Royster.
    Royce Ogle
    Monroe, LA
    Royce Ogle
    December, 6 2011
    This reversal is a big mistake. They left us just like the Christian church over 100 years ago. The instrument is only an outward symptom of much deeper differences on how the Bible authorizes.
    Johnny D. Hinton
    December, 6 2011
    I must say I am dissapointed when we try to speak where the scriptures do not speak. what is next? Will we have Pizza and Coke on the Lords table. Why not? He did not say not to.
    when the Lord tells us what to do why can’t we just do that and keep our eye of faith on the Home of the soul.
    I purchase the CD with the churches on it but, I must say I will really look closely to chose a place to worship.
    Brethern, Lets think again. That music coming from the heart is the best. the rest is just to please us and is that what worship is about? No it is NOT.
    Praying we will stick to his word only,
    Darlene McKinley
    December, 6 2011
    The decision two years ago to exclude those who have departed was correct. What do we do with Bible instruction to mark those who teach error? Even in congregatons where non-instrumental services are an option, money put in the plate during those services support preachers and send out missionaries who teach “it doesn’t matter”. This is not the unity for which Jesus prayed.
    Dennis Cady
    December, 6 2011
    Although I do not care to engage in a praise with other than acappella singing the decision by some of my brethren to do so is not a matter for me to severe my fellowship with them. Yes, Jesus and the church, my brothers and sisters in the faith that is in Christ Jesus, are as inseparable as body and spirit. However, the unintended and unwitting separation effect of particular subgroups by singing, etc. in the fellowship on believers has been profound.
    This separation effect has been in a far greater emphasis on outward appearances with a companion church-speak than that of rivers of living water flowing forth from the innermost being of the believer. Please, I reiterate. Jesus and his church are inseparable. One does not out do or outgrow the other.
    Lastly, I commend the Christian Chronicle for inviting and allowing for comments on this matter. It’s a lesson worth learning by the church that touts a “web presence” with mere meeting schedules, maps and creed, rather than posting, encouraging and allowing members and visitors to interact with the saints at that location.
    Gil T
    December, 6 2011
    I agree! We somehow restored the Law of condemnation that Jesus died to fulfill. We have no “authority” to make up “thou shalt nots” when God has not. We all agree on the written and we all have ONE MIND when it comes to the written. We ONLY become divisive when mere men draw conclusions and teach that as if God spoke it Himself.
    Stick with and teach what was written, let others make up (for God) the “what nots”
    H. Clay McCool
    December, 7 2011
    Darlene, if music is to come from the heart only, then using one’s vocal chords and producing audible music with the INSTRUMENT of one’s vocal chords is NOT allowed. “make melody in your heart” is a METAPHOR for being filled with the spirit.
    December, 7 2011
    Let us be honest..we pick and choose our traditions? Wine, used in Lord’s Supper is not same as fresh Welch’s grape juice…Jesus choose just one cup from which to drink the wine together with his apostles at Lord’s Supper. David Lipscomb and many others insist it is a sin for a woman to pray even in private with an uncovered head. Few respect the literal teaching concerning having braided hair, wearing jewelry etc. Who admits that a man with long hair is sinning? What about Jesus’ command to wash each others feet, and should we fast, and the list goes on and on. These are our options but some do not include use of instruments of music. Being consistent is a problem in our brotherhood. There is nothing wrong with good traditions which the Lord respected. Jesus also had to deal with those who labeled him as a “change agent” according to their traditions he was not sticking to the scriptures…Have things really changed?
    Bob Walters
    December, 7 2011
    Historically, among other points of doctrinal differences, the Disciples of Christ/Christian Church has separated itself from the church of Christ because of the issue concerning <b>the mechanical operation of inanimate, lifeless musical devices in the assembly of saints</b>.
    The directory was reporting it correctly [statistically, of course] in the past. The “subgroups” were “within churches of Christ only.” But instrumental music is such a major religious issue and as we know it was the primary reason for the separation of the two bodies in the religious census of 1906.
    Since the 2012 directory of churches of Christ (also “historically” known as a directory of “a cappella” churches of Christ) has reversed its decision to now include “instrumental worship” churches, I would suggest a code or a combination of codes [might as well] for each of the following:
    That the directory should now include Disciples of Christ/Christian Church “instrumental” congregations;
    Former name of the church (e.g., Oak Hills Church [formerly “of Christ”]);
    Former church of Christ congregation that now identifies itself or is affiliated with the Disciples/Christian Church;
    Former church of Christ congregation transformed into a Community Church;
    Former church of Christ congregation now associated with the Willow Creek Association of Community Churches;
    Congregation that has deaconesses;
    Congregation that has women teaching MEN and women;
    Congregation that has a Praise Team (“progressive Church of Christ” CHOIR);
    What’s next?
    Donnie Cruz
    December, 7 2011
    Lately I’ve been wondering if the majority of Churches of Christ don’t use musical instruments in worship, for does not an amplification system (an electronic-mechanical device) become a musical instrument when a song leader sings into it? Getting to the root of it, the device doesn’t amplify the voice; it only seems to amplify it. It’s a trick. In reality, the device listens to and almost instantaneously imitates the song leader’s voice, usually in a loud way, depending on the setting. In that way it makes music through electronic-mechanical means. How come no one ever wants to ban those things? How come there is no separate code for congregations that use the microphone?
    December, 7 2011
    Why not include the instrumental, conservative Christian Churches since the door has been opened to non-Biblical practices? There is no limit.
    Brethren should NOT buy the book or CD. Stand up for Truth.
    ken hargesheimer
    December, 7 2011
    I am very disappointed in Mr. Royster’s decision. I was very proud when he decided to stand for the truth in leaving the instrumental people out of the brotherhood. A brotherhood that was once proud for standing for the truth instead of packing pews.
    For those that have instruments in the church, I have one question, where is your Biblical backing for having instruments?
    Where do you have the authority to add what God has said? We are now no better than the denominational world, a world that we tried so desperately to separate from, so we can be just “Christians only”.
    This is a sad day for a brotherhood I was once proud of, that once stood for truth and not tolerance with sacrificing God’s law.
    Andrew Norris
    December, 7 2011
    The text of Scripture still says “sing.” The concept is not difficult to understand. No mechanical musical machine sings, teaches, or admonishes.
    Orion Mitchell
    December, 7 2011
    Why would the publisher want to do this? It’s just another step toward softening the brotherhood for acceptance of instrumental music and all the other things that some are willing to do.
    joe connell
    December, 7 2011
    The book should list only those congregations which are sound and follow the teachings of the New Testament. Those congregations using the instruments of music made of dead wood, and do other things which go beyond what is written 1 Cor 4:6; should be excluded from any book listing the churches of Christ. Our purpose of assembling for worship is to praise the Lord in spirit and truth and not to entertain each other. Personally I will not buy any reference book which lists churches of Christ, and then includes churches which do not follow what is written. Because that is the reason I buy the book, so when I travel I can find sound congregations. If I go to a church and find instruments then I know they are not of truth, then I just have to go to another which defeats the whole purpose of having the book in the first place.
    Gary Hatmaker
    December, 7 2011
    This is great news! A step toward unity….isn’t that what the restoration movement is suppose to be all about?
    I understand that some of you want to argue that accapella is a center piece of the Church of Christ. And, it has been a huge part of our heritage (in most regions). However, isn’t autonomy SUPPOSED to be a bigger part? There is a Biblical model of church leadership that has LOCAL elders and leadership deciding what is best for the worship of God in their own community. Since the Bible never condemns the use of instrument, how can we say that they shouldn’t be used by another congregation? Think about some of the things that we get really “wrong” as a movement if the only example to follow comes from the Bible:
    -Ownership of church buildings
    -Lord’s Supper is terribly wrong in practice (passing trays, really????), place (should be in homes), and content (grape juice and no wine?).
    -Women’s roles (By Paul’s account to Timothy they shouldn’t be talking in Bible class. On the flip side, there should be women serving as deacons according to his letter to Romans and sharing prophecies and prayers in Corinth)
    -4 part harmony
    -Use of song books or projector
    -Hired ministry staff
    -Failure to sell all that we have an give it to one another
    -We don’t meet “every day”
    -We don’t speak in tongues
    I could go on and on. And, I know that many of you will pardon our differences from the New Testament on most of these areas because we have well verses responses to them. But, the point is, we look NOTHING like the NT church, NOTHING. However, we continue to do many of these things without regard for those differences. Sometimes those differences from the NT are out of mere convenience. Other times, they are because we are trying to present the gospel to the world around us and recognize that the current world is much different than the one of 2000 years ago. Why make this the one issue that everyone has to get right be considered part of our movement? Should we start kicking churches out for other things that don’t match our heritage?
    Let’s not be like the Pharisees….the only group that Jesus absolutely despised in the Bible.
    December, 7 2011
    No, this is bad news. This is like history repeating itself — it’s the 1906 religious census over again, a split group within churches of Christ: (a) a cappella <b>VERSUS</b> (b) instrumental music worshippers. That certainly is not a Restoration Movement principle of unity.
    What about this type of unity:
    (1) Allow instrumental music lovers operate their mechanical devices in a cappella churches of Christ
    ——– and ——–
    (2) Allow churches of Christ to remove those inanimate, lifeless musical devices from the Disciples of Christ/Christian Churches?
    The elders are supposed to teach members that which they have been taught, and not be influenced by culture-driven schemes, approaches and methodologies to “grow the church.” They are responsible leaders of the congregation and should be held accountable when division occurs due to issues such as instrumental music in the assembly.
    By the way, you forgot to add to your list: the kitchen sink, indoor/outdoor toilets, A/C, carpet and pews — all of which and other conveniences have nothing to do with the issue of playing musical instruments in the gathering of saints. It’s comparing apples and oranges.
    Knowing or learning or speaking the truth is not Pharisaical.
    Donnie Cruz
    December, 8 2011
    Wendy and Chris…thank you for your comments. The Christian Chronicle is a remarkable publication; it makes me proud of my Church of Christ heritage. The Church is vital and on fire in Europe, South America, and Africa. And yes, in the USA…children’s homes, OCU etc.
    Jesus DID despise the Pharisees, did he not? Many of the responses to this article seem to emanate from that mentality. This is what keeps many away from the Church of Christ….the same church and same people that serve in these incredible ways in the other articles in this issue.
    At the same time, these with the Pharisaical tendencies are the salt of the earth literally. They are the bedrock of society. My aunts, parents, and many friends and other relatives hold these views.
    Mollie Howell
    December, 8 2011
    This is where the conflict lies. You assert that using an instrument is anti-Biblical and automatically destroys unity. I could argue that the things I listed are such important Biblical issues that anyone who deviates from those things is not following God’s word and example from scripture and therefore leaves the foundation that we claim will provide unity.
    1) Not everyone comes to the same conclusions about scriptures…especially when the topics are “inferences” and not obviously given commands or expectations.
    2) I don’t think it’s just a “culturally driven scheme”, I think that it is a thought and prayer filled process that these congregations go through. Even if it is culturally driven, then I could just as easily argue that the accapella worship of the first century was culturally driven 2,000 years ago.
    3) I think it is a shame that you judge the elders of those congregations. I’m quite positive that those individual churches have given many hours of deliberation, prayer, and study into this issue; including the effect of the unity it has own their own church. While the congregation that I attend isn’t in the midst of this conversation,and probably won’t be for decades (if ever), I know others who have gone through this journey. I’ve never seen it be an easy process or taken with a whimsical approach.
    BTW, the result in 1906 was unfortunate. Let’s have a better process this time and maintain unity through our differences. I don’t think that the instrumental congregations are going to come and try to force your congregation to use them, so let’s give them the same respect…or we will have disunity. It’s not just “their” responsibility to seek unity.
    December, 8 2011
    At the root of this issue is a tightly clung to human tradition. Knowing or learning or speaking the truth is not Pharisaical, but elevating human traditions to the level of God’s word is indeed Pharisaical. See Mark 7. Keeping a tradition can be comfortable, and change can be scary. But as Christians, we do not really have the right to live in our comfort zones, and we certainly do not have the right to sacrifice unity or outreach for the sake of tradition.
    The fact is that there is no Biblical argument against instrumental worship. On the contrary! There are plenty of Old Testament examples of instrumental worship!
    The sole argument against instrumental worship is that it isn’t found in the New Testament (that and an EXTREMELY contrived interpretation of Ephesians 5:19). This is really quite preposterous if you think about it. The fact that no other Church of Christ practices are subject to this rule indicates that it is simply a weak rationalization for clinging to a traditionalism.
    Chris rightly pointed this out, and he was absolutely NOT comparing apples and oranges. I’ll just take one example from many: Hymnals. How is the addition of Hymnals to worship any different from the addition of instruments? Both aid in worship. Neither are found in the New Testament, yet Hymnals are commonly used by the Church of Christ, and instrumentalists are called heathens.
    Please, I beg you to OBJECTIVELY consider what the Bible actually says about instrumental worship, and not simply fall back to what your upbringing, tradition, or church leadership says. The Bible must be the ultimate authority, and it is very dangerous to project human tradition into the Bible. Please also read Mark 7 – I think it’s very relevant.
    December, 8 2011
    Comments from Chris above are well taken. With the change two years ago I had decided not to buy another copy of the book, but now I will reverse that decision. The last prayer Jesus prayed with his disciples included an earnest plea for the unity of his followers. When we divide over things that aren’t even Biblically relevant, we are ripping John 17 out of our Bibles. In 2006 we held meetings and worship services all over the world to confess our shame at a 100-year-old division that should never have taken place. May the decision Carl H. Royster described above be the beginning of a new spirit of unity and oneness that our descendants 100 years from now will celebrate.
    Gayle Crowe
    December, 8 2011
    I recently went to an Iowa Renewal Project and was amazed at the talking and milling around when the group that was singing performed. However, when a smaller group sang accapella, there was a hush over the audience of 600 or so, and people remained seated. At that moment I was excited to see the instantaneous benefit of a ‘”singing accapella” illustration’ unfold! God knows what is best, and yes he did force Israel to use the “shadow” instruments, but that ended along with other things he forced them to do. They were a part of the “works” program that we should be avoiding.
    Dale Burleson
    December, 8 2011
    Very good to hear this has happened. Now if only we could compile a single directory of all <em>a cappella</em>, ICOC, independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ and DOC churches in the U.S., we’d be making some decent progress.
    Adam Gonnerman
    December, 8 2011
    If you look at the items used in OT worship, ie: temple, incense, circumcism, priests, animal sacrifice, instruments of music, etc. they are all temperal. These ‘things’ translate to spiritual when we come to the NT. The temple becomes us, the incense becomes prayer, circumcism of the body becomes circumcism of the heart, animal sacrifice becomes Jesus, instruments become the heart.
    I would much rather hear the voices of those in the assembly than the blaring of instuments. And, I dont want to add something that I’m not positive is pleasing to God. Better safe than sorry.
    December, 8 2011
    Eric et. al.,
    Hymnals and instruments the same? Not quite. When we open our hymnals and sing, what are we doing? Singing. When we sing and play instruments, what are we doing? Singing and playing. Singing is not playing; playing is not singing. Singing is authorized in the NT. Playing is not. Those who sing “in the manner of the church” (see a good dictionary definition of acappella) are not obligated to show why the instrument is wrong (though I think we can do so without much trouble). Demanding that someone prove a negative is illogical. You who defend the instrument are obligated to show why it is right. Can you do it?
    Historically, nobody even claiming to be Christian used IM until the last two or three centuries except the Roman Catholics. Even they didn’t use it until the apostasy was full-blown. When non-Catholic groups introduced it, they encountered much opposition from those who saw it for what it was — a Catholic practice which was, at best, a throw-back to Judaism, and more likely a throw-back to paganism.
    December, 8 2011
    Someone said:
    “The book should list only those congregations which are sound and follow the teachings of the New Testament.”
    I agree. The issue fails when folks bind that which is not bound as a “New Testament teaching.” While we have traditionally made IM an issue, it is a non-issue in the New Testament, and thus should remain a non-issue with us.
    That we have said “The purpose for assembly is to worship…” is completely foreign to New Testament teaching. In truth, we borrowed way to much from Catholic teaching on this one.
    THE only stated purpose for assembling is for mutual fellowship and encouragement. WE invented “acts of worship” not the NT. There are no “5 acts of….anything” in the NT.
    Being a people traditionally who brag about following “only” the Bible, we simply have created many laws the NT does not. Unity is not based on doctrinal unanimity, but mututal seeking of the Lord of the Word.
    Jason Scott
    December, 8 2011
    A careful reading of this excellent address by H. Leo Boles on “The Way of UNITY Between “CHRISTIAN CHURCH” AND CHURCHES OF CHRIST”
    is in order!
    Who else are they going to start listing if they have surrendered this ground? A sad decision. I hope they reconsider.
    David R. Kenney
    David R. Kenney
    December, 8 2011
    I’m all for full disclosure of whatever this directory aspires to be. Pointing to RCMS and/or some need for statistical accuracy seems weak to me, but hey, its a business. Clearly the publishers see a bigger business by doing this. Why not just say its a business decision?
    What may well be overlooked in this business decision is the intense loyalty those of us interested in acappella worship. If there were to emerge a publisher of churches practicing only acappella worship, it might sell even better. My guess is the publisher will realize this and next time break this directory into two or more parts, each with different markets.
    I actually think things are seriously confused by relying on some definition regarding “historically…linked” and “minority” identification. There are independent acappella churches all over the world, including some in the US having no tangible link at all to the US restoration movement. I would even suggest most church members attending these churches have no idea what such a movement was or is. In any case, by basing the definition on some “historical linkage” the numbers would be expected to decline over time as churches naturally are planted and die off over the decades.
    In a shameless plug of my own directory, I offer <b>http://churchzip.com</b> as a directory of churches that do not use instruments as part of their regular weekly worship services. Please feel free to update your own records on this site as you wish. Of course, lacking a particular headquarters on earth, any directory of this kind is a challenge. And dead-tree directories seem so….outdated.
    Earle West (Jr.)
    December, 8 2011
    If God thought that acappella was always best, perhaps he would have mentioned something to that effect in the Bible. As it stands, He did not. Can you give any Biblical basis for your theory about instruments being a part of the “works program”? My hunch is that you cannot, but if you could, it still doesn’t follow that we <i>shouldn’t</i> use instruments. There are plenty of old covenant requirements that we are not now required to do, yet we are still permitted to do them. For example, circumcision, which is still a common practice for medical reasons. Can you give any Biblical basis that instruments are now prohibited?
    I think that what’s going on is that there are some <i>humans</i> who think acappella is best, and their preference is being treated as scripture. I personally prefer instrumental worship, as I find it to be more spiritually engaging and energetic. Some people prefer non-instrumental, and that’s fine. I don’t care if some people prefer to worship in a different way than me, but I do care when they use it as an excuse for disunity.
    December, 8 2011
    Yes, thank you CC for allowing some comments to discuss and challenge one another. Many years ago, I asked two NT professors at our Christian colleges why God would allow such an (flawed) description of His throneroom to be allowed as is described in Revelation 5:8-14 where the worshippers of God held “harps”? Especially in lieu of the point that this was recorded by John roughly 50-60 years after the church started!? Surely if God was so opposed to musical instruments, He would NEVER have allowed such to be recorded (whether you believe it is figurative or literal). Now many have said, “well he mentions a bowl of incense too”–but notice that it is clarified as the “prayers of the saints” (v. 8)…harps ARE used in heavenly worship! This is part of the New Testament (even some of the latest)–and it is high time we stop dividing over traditions that are impossible to Biblically defend and start being as INCLUSIVE as we possibly can!! I am SO thankful for ALL of my Christian brothers and sisters and look forward to worshipping (harp or no harps).
    December, 8 2011
    Thank you Chris and others for your thoughtful comments. As I was reading some of the early comments, I was getting more and more frustrated at the misinterpretation of scripture.
    I, like most of you, love a cappella music, and I intend to keep attending a service with a cappella music. I, like many of you, fear the change that may come about when congregations decide to add an instrumental service. But I came to the conclusion many years ago that the interpretation which excludes Christians simply for using instrumental worship is unfounded. I am embarassed that I argued it for so many years. I finally got to where I couldn’t convince myself with my own arguments any more.
    Thanks for this forum and for generous hearts and loving spirits that can see that the issue does not <i>have<i> to be devisive.
    December, 8 2011
    We should not care a fig for what some group of statisticians (the Religious Congregations and Membership Study) want from us. The primary use for the book is to help members who are traveling or moving to locate a congregation that will allow them to glorify God as their consciences dictate they should. Provided that the congregations using instruments are clearly indicated, the book will still serve its purpose. If this is not clearly indicated, then the book would be useless to us and would never again be purchased. Since some congregations were being dishonest in order to keep their listing, perhaps it is better to make an arrangement whereby they will come out of the closet and be honest. Of course, depending on what the motive was for the earlier dishonesty, and how deep the habit of dishonesty has become, they might or might not come out and clearly identify themselves. Only time will tell.
    thayer salisbury
    December, 8 2011
    OK, Eric and Chris: I kind of hate to weigh in on this because we typically get more heat than light (which likely means we don’t actually know what we’re talking about, but we’re sure we’re right!). Still, here goes:
    Chris–let’s can the talk about Pharisees; it’s just designed to call people names and really doesn’t contribute anything to the issue. The issue is whether congregations who use instruments in their worship are actually (truly) part of our fellowship or not. We have a lot in common with them still–or they with us, depending on your emphasis.
    Eric–trust me when I say that you really, really don’t want to try to argue theology if you can’t tell the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. And tell me what’s “contrived” about noting that Paul very intentionally specified in Ephesians 5:19 the “instrument” to be used (the heart) in direct imitation of similar phrases in the Psalms that also specified the instrument (make music with a lyre, for example) used in the earlier covenant? That’s about as “contrived” as Jesus re-imaging the Passover as a memorial of His death, burial and resurrection. Either inspiration entails or it doesn’t–and I have a feeling that touches the heart of this matter. The “hymnals” canard doesn’t merit a response.
    Here’s a critical point: either we want to submit to God and hear and heed His will, or we want to make Him think we submit to Him while really doing whatever we want to do. I kind of think He’ll see through any duplicity on our part.
    You might not like Donnie’s words, but he’s raised important questions that I haven’t seen addressed yet. Why will some demand what they admit is a preference and, in doing so, destroy unity with those who are holding to legitimate conviction?
    Chris Stinnett
    December, 8 2011
    Sad. Poor decision. If we want to really think “historically” we will realize that when the divisions occurred in the 1800s, they came exactly the same way. The instrument was gradually introduced, first in Sunday schools, in most instances, but was there any doubt where it would go? Is there any doubt where a congregation with an instrumental service, will eventually go with all its services?
    I am one of about 20 independent book dealerships that partner with 21st Century. I for one will NOT sell the new directory based on this decision. You would think that bookstores would get a heads up or maybe a voice on this item. Poor economic decision as well.
    Barry Poyner
    December, 8 2011
    I applaud the change.
    This will help travelers distinguish which congregations they will feel comfortable with. It is just as helpful to know who uses one cup or who has Sunday School as it is to know where a woman might lead scripture or an instrument be used in accompaniment. Not all of the congregations in the directory have ever been in unified fellowship, and it would be erroneous to consider this directory “The Lambs Book of Life.”
    Steve Sandifer
    December, 8 2011
    Brothers and Sisters,
    I’ve often wondered why arguments seem never to resolve the instrument issue. Then, I remember “under the sun” passages that tell on all of us.
    “Ec 9:13 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me:
    14 There was once a small city… 18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.”
    So, who is it that is wise among us?
    Looking backward will answer a lot of questions. Was it not the Father &gt; Son &gt; Holy Spirit &gt; Apostles who taught what came from the Father? It seems right to simply ask the apostles and see the results – for centuries it was nothing but singing! Should Paul write his message on this comment page, what would he tell us?
    Then, I recall that worship was first mentioned in the story of Cain and Abel. The lesson to learn is that a choice to replace what God told these two sons of Adam was simply not a smart thing to do. Abel was severly punished for insisting on his own preference and his lack of faith!
    Jesus’ instructions to the apostles was this: the H.S. will guide you into ALL things — ALL THINGS! Does ALL include worship? Does it include vocal music? Absolutely!
    To say that singing without the instrument is traditional reflects only on how the church leaders switched to the instrument centuries after the H.S. told the apostles what the Father wanted. Of course, there is a lot of history that can be called “tradition,”; but, that is ignoring the teaching from the Father to the Son to the Holy Spirit to the apostles, and to the churches and their practice for centures before “tradition”. Singing is part of the ALL things!
    Had it been to “make music” we could sing, play, or whataever. We do not find “make music” in the apostles teachings. Early church practice reflects the apostles’ instructions — “Sing and make melody in your heart unto the Lord.” We all know how good singing is for the spirit. We all know how much more participation there is when the instrument is absent. And, how about the drummer in the cage who is far too loud for worship to happen? Does that tell us anything? Are these assemblies worshipful? Not in my experience. Instead, other variations creep in – no Lord’s Supper today!
    Let me encourage all of us to read the scriptures with prayer and not forget the context less we divert to “one cuppers,” the “hatters,” “long hair,” and other irrelavent issues. Let the Lord have his way with us and sing praises to the Lord, making melody in our hearts. This will lead to unity in ALL things! A directory is not our source of disunity or unity!It is a source that “destroys much good!” Instead, seek wisdom!
    Bob Patterson
    December, 8 2011
    I guess the publication could publish according to a more narrow standard. Let’s see, whose standard should we accept? Mine, or yours? We in the Church of Christ claim the Bible as the inspired Word of God. But we love to “interpret” this Word, and for some reason, fail to agree with each other as to what is true and what is not. That’s why we have so many splinter groups in the Church of Christ family. I see no reason why we can’t accept classifications and use that information to better help us identify where we feel comfortable in worshipping our God. The Gospel is the “good news” that Jesus died for our sins, and was raised again to reign in Heaven with God. If we believe and are baptized for the remission of sins, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. The rest is our feeble attempts to obey God. Let’s not get so dogmatic with our views that we cannot accept fellow belevers. Leave judgment to God.
    Pat S.
    December, 8 2011
    Hey Earle West…you should remove Central Jersey Church of Christ from that directory if a cappella worship is a requirement. We are normally without instruments, but we’ve been known occasionally have a small “band” and just last week a guitarist accompanied a special song for communion. Just in case it’s a one-drop rule or the like….
    Adam Gonnerman
    December, 8 2011
    Eric wrote: “If God thought that acappella was always best, perhaps he would have mentioned something to that effect in the Bible. As it stands, He did not. Can you give any Biblical basis for your theory about instruments being a part of the �works program�? My hunch is that you cannot, but if you could, it still doesn�t follow that we shouldn�t use instruments.”
    Under God’s direction, the musicians were appointed. They were kept up by the donations of all Israel just like the gate-keepers and other Levites were. They had a job to do. They did their work. They kept their instruments in a special place, and they lived in their own towns. There work fits perfectly with the Levites that sacrificed animals and did other things associated with the Law, which was given to Israel to strive under. I recall that it was a Law that was not possible for man to fully obey. Thus the problem with it. It could not bring about salvation. It was a shadow of the good things to come. That is why I would say that the instruments were a part of the shadow.
    As to whether God would or would not have chosen to mention that “acapella was always best,” I would rather concern myself with what pleases Him. I know that singing does, and through Paul He instructed us to do so. My years of being in Christian Churches as a child and more recently in “non-acapella” churches of Christ, I have found the piano player “as a rule” to be silent rather than sing. I would not expect that anyone could successfully argue that a Christian “should” or “must” use instruments to worship God.
    By the way Eric, circumcision predated the Mosaical Law that was for Israel.
    I have heard a talented “steel-guitarist” nearly make the instrument “talk,” but to date I haven’t heard the “speaking to one another” that Paul talks about.
    Eric I think an extremely contrived interpretation of Ephesians 5:19 would have to be made to say that the passage was speaking of “using instrumental music” to speak to one another.
    Dale Burleson
    December, 8 2011
    Still these debates that I remember from the early 50’s. If as much effort was exerted to helping resolve the poverty and hunger in this country and foreign missionary fields it seems more would be accomplised for good. I truly believe that God will judge each soul by the intent and Love that person has for our Lord and his universal church and his following the pattern of becoming a member of the universal church. We each need personal freedom in such matters of music I truly believe. We each will answer to our Lord and no earthly church for our hope of salvation.
    jim alderdice
    December, 8 2011
    Because of these discussions, I have written a paper called UNITY. It should help
    settle the problems discussed here. Email me for a free copy with Unity in the subject
    line. [email protected].
    December, 8 2011
    There has been a wide range of comments both pro and con over this matter. I still can’t help but wonder how anyone can not listen to a group of brothers/sisters singing a cappella and not have their hearts touch by such a beatiuful sound. Surely God loves that praise to him without it being drowned out by a guitar and drums.
    I know that this sounds old school but since when are we suppose to be like others. Isn’t this one of the things that has always set us apart from the world. Are we not called upon to be a pecuiliar people?
    It saddens me to see us compromise our beliefs to appease others. Makes one wonder what is next? Pray to God for strength and guidence.
    December, 8 2011
    I am appalled at the lack of teaching. Has no one in today’s Church looked at the use of sing in the language of the New Testament Greek. This is not a mater of tradition, but of understanding the truth. If we do not care enough to study, we are not the church… instrumental or not.
    Anytime a church uses a practice that precludes worship because it violates scripture, they should be marked as something other than Church of Christ.
    Terry Sandefur
    December, 8 2011
    My compliments to Carl Royster, Mac Lynn, and 21st Century Christian for a truly courageous — and correct — decision. Amen!
    Those who disagree with the decision all make the same error — all implicitly assume that error of any kind damns. Notice how the objectors all argue based on their position on instrumental music — as though proving the instrumentalists in error somehow proves they must not be fellowshiped! That’s a huge logical leap which no one even tries to prove from scripture.
    Here’s the problem: There are countless other areas where we disagree among one another in the Churches of Christ and yet continue to extend fellowship. Why is it the instrumental music is a fellowship issue and, say, steeples on the building are not? Where I grew up, steeples were quite controversial.
    Obviously, some issues truly are fellowship issues — such as faith in Jesus as Son of God. But others are not (Heard anyone demand a church split over whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father or the Father and the Son lately?)
    So what is the standard? How do we tell — based solely on the Bible — whether a disagreement is a salvation or fellowship issue? And until someone can answer that question, the debate is pointless.
    And those who wish to divide over the instrument have never articulated a sensible, Bible-based standard for distinguishing instrumental music from all the other issues over which we don’t divide. That makes the choice utterly arbitrary — indeed, self-made religion.
    Jay Guin
    December, 8 2011
    Someone correctly said of us, “We speak where the Bible speaks and where it is silent we speak louder”. This series of comments…Exhibit 1.
    Our colorful history shows that we can figure out more ways to condemn others and exclude people from fellowship than any other group I have ever heard of. Maybe a starting place on the way to unity as believers is to focus on the Christ of the church more and on the church of Christ less.
    Royce Ogle
    December, 8 2011
    Why stop at instrumental music? Why not include churches that have used Coke and potato chips for the Lord’s Supper. There is as much justification for that as for instruments in worship. (And yes, I have known of such a church.)
    And how about churches that sprinkle water rather than immerse. I believe that actually came in before the instruments.
    It is amazing to see the lack of understanding in some of the comments. If we cannot distinguish between a piano and a microphone, we have reached a sad state of affairs in the Lord’s church.
    J. D. Tant
    December, 8 2011
    We are commanded to “sing”, which requires our vocal chords and cannot be separated from them, and to make music with the instrument of our “hearts”. Certainly, making music in one’s heart is a metaphor, yet it remains the only musical instrument commanded for use in the New Testament, metaphorical or otherwise.
    John Hunt
    December, 8 2011
    GOD said there would be a falling away from the church and the true value with men following tradition of men rather than GOD. True hold fast to our beliefs and continue to seek the reward as we know who would have if in Moses day turned to melt the gold and make images.The evident is further read by breaking down Churches by race. We are all Christian who follow the truth and will be greeted as such no matter where we attend as in heaven there will be separation as to skin and we should not see skin here.
    Linda St.Julian
    December, 8 2011
    Correction on my misprint as I am so outdone with the latest reading from the Christian Chronicle that I just can’t grasp what I’m reading these days. There was this about christmas and now this. Santa clause is as important as Jesus how do you differentate the two. I meant to say true christians hold fast to the true beliefs and that in heaven christians will not be separated by skin and if it makes any difference I’m black.
    Linda St.Julian
    December, 8 2011
    The answer for musical instuments is in the bible as directed by GOD himself. We do not want to do the things that GOD hate do we as christians. We know there are six things GOD hate and seven are an abomination to him in Proverbs 6:16-19 and If GOD told the people in Amos 5:21-23 to take away such for it dipleases him who are we to add this now as if he has changed his mind. What holds for them then holds for us now for the Old Testament is for our learning. What next are we to here that calling oneselves reverend is ok now?
    Linda St.Julian
    December, 8 2011
    Father, grandfather, uncle: strong conservative church of Christ ministers, acappella in their beliefs.
    As a teenager, an argument with a classmate about instrumental music in worship sent me to my minister Dad for Biblical reference to support “our” belief the Bible denies use of instruments. Dad supported with a ‘making music from the heart’ and speak where the Bible speaks. . concept but I was sorely disappointed that there was no scripture to show my friend where it was evil to use musical instruments since our beliefs were so rigid. The classmate pointed out God’s pleasure with David’s playing the harp and the angels as well. I had to concede that “my” ‘Bible-based’ hardline against instrumental music was exceedingly thin. My friend made as good a case for musical instruments as I had against, maybe better.
    Having said the above. . .
    50+ years later I still prefer to worship acappella. A church visited recently (not CoC) had a mini orchestra. Drum rolls and horns were distracting, jarring to my ear, overshadowing voices, dominating the words. . . but evil or wrong? I don’t know the answer to that question. I doubt any of us do.
    Arkansas PK
    December, 8 2011
    Tried to post this and it wouldn’t let me because it said I had to give a valid e-mail address. NO WHERE did it ask for an e-mail address. In the headings above this comment section it asked for “Mail” and I put down my mailing address. I guess you cannot use the same truthfulness with this as you must use with the Bible. Ok, I’ll go back and put my e-mail address even though that is not what it asked for on the form.
    I’m not sure what the purpose of this book is. I used to think that it was published for travelers who were looking to gather with the Lord’s Church. But if it includes those who have left the will of God, then you might as well save your money and simple drive to a building with a steeple on it and join with them.
    I noticed in the article that it doesn’t say they studied the Scriptures although it would take long to see what God has to say, nor is it really hard to understand what God says, for those who have ears to hear.
    It is as the old saying goes “if you repeat a lie often enough, people will start to believe it.” It has taken Satan a couple of generations but he has won people again with changing God’s will concerning the music He desires.
    If these people would just be honest and said “Sorry God but we are going to do what we want to do and You better accept it.” Well, at least they would be being honest.
    George A. Sinkie
    December, 8 2011
    Yes, I am going to rant. This is the church that I have loved all my life.
    Here is something that I do not understand from the instrumental side. If you do not like what we are doing, then why not leave? Honestly, it seems like you are forcing your views on us. We are not going to the Christian church and telling them that they have to get rid of the instruments, yet you are telling us to have instruments for the sake of unity.
    If that is the case, then why not go all the way of what is coming up the pipe because you are opening the flood gates to changes? There is changes in the church right that are not open yet, but soon will be. 1) To some baptism is no longer required for salvation, only for obedience. Therefore, it is not necessary to be baptized at all if one does not want to. 2) Women and men are equal in the sight of God; therefore women should have equal roles in the church, including leadership roles (since there was a deconess mentioned in the N.T.)
    What kind of church do you want? This should be the wrong question. The question should be, what does God want? From what I have studied, there is NO example of the instrument in worship and it should be kept simple by singing and not complicated by instruments.
    There are unfortunate side affects from what you are doing. Being from the north, there are a lot of Christian churches, and I have talked to some of the preachers.
    One preacher almost left the Christian church because he took the kids to a youth rally that had a full band. The band played so loud that the band leader told the kids that if they could not sing for God, dance for Him. He took the kids and left the youth rally.
    Another preacher friend told me that he had a problem once because the piano player was sick. The elders told him that it was going to be a short service “since we will not be singing.” The preacher added songs in his sermon because he believed it was not right to not sing in worship.
    Is this the church you want? Instruments to nullify the word of God?
    As Joshua said, “[Worship who you wish], but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
    Now that I have said my piece, you can go about your business.
    Andrew Norris
    December, 9 2011
    Let make a prediction: If the leadership of Churches of Christ are not willing to accept changes in culture and worship styles, they will cease to be within 100 years. Take a poll of members who are less than 50 years of age, and you will find that the overwhelming majority consider instrumental music a question of opinion. When the greybeards die off, the churches will change. They will have to.
    Steve Wicker
    December, 9 2011
    Why have we become so assembly worship focused? As I try and understand what Jesus said in John 4:23&amp;24, the how of true worship is “in spirit and in truth.” So why didn’t Jesus set forth a distinct format and tell us down to the minutest detail exactly how assembly worship should be done? That sure would have made unity a lot easier for all of us to come by… or would it have? Was He delusional when he prayed in the garden that �they might be one��? (John 17:20-23) Of course not! He was/is God!
    So, do we ignore his plea? It has become too easy to take solace in belonging to the right persuasion on this and other very outward practices� to feel fulfilled in our Christian duty by simply �going to Church, � and of course, doing Church right! We even use the term �worship service� (find that in the Scriptures) when shouldn�t the true worship service be our lives. I would challenge all to study worship in the New Testament. You will be hard pressed to separate it from daily Christian living.
    Do I do have an OPINION way or the other on the validity of using instruments in assembly worship? No. But I do have a very studied and prayerfully considered POSITION (which I will not state here). I refuse to trust my salvation on the rightness (or wrongness) of that position, but yield to God�s grace through the blood of His Son. But since this forum seems replete with opinions, here is mine.
    We are inwardly focused. Our debates stand as a sad testimony on our
    contentious nature, and are a diversion. So let�s move on and focus on the mission to which we have been called � achieving righteousness (not to be confused with rightness) that comes through faith, and spreading the Good News . In so doing we will become consumed by the enormity of the task (i.e. something about �the field are ripe��), so that we will have no time for endless debates. In the process we will achieve the unity fervently desired by our dying Savior � the unity that will cause the world to take note and turn to God.
    Dan Sisson
    December, 9 2011
    I have recently gone through a very emotionally draining situation in which I along with other elders have had differing viewpoints on scripture. Having gone through this lengthy process of debate and trying to reason, has left me with the conclusion that we, in the Lord’s church, major in minors. As one of the other posts here mentions that we tend to disagree on subjects within the scriptures that are not specific in nature. My 13 year old, the other day, asked me, “Dad, does the bible tells us not to use musical instruments?” To my wife’s surprise, I told him, “No, it does not.” While I believe that the scriptures allude to us not using instuments, and I prefer not to, I cannot say absolutely that it is forbidden. We use the “example” situation of authority (it was not done in the first century) as our fall back justification that we do not have the authority to do so. If we want to absolutely agree on scripture, then we need to be specific with scripture and not try to put words in God’s mouth. We need to refrain from teaching as absolute doctrine those things that were left unspecified.
    Glenn L.
    December, 9 2011
    Sorry, no time to “weigh in” on a non salvation issue…too busy “seeking and saving the lost”. Our congregation has taken a focus on presenting the gospel and focusing on God instead of issues. Our 250 members have immersed 30 new members in 8 months and have welcomed in an additional 23 converts. How is your fruit developing??
    Christin Paladin
    December, 9 2011
    It is good we call the Bible thing in name and also do the Bible thing in a Bible way.
    If we are worshiping God today through Jesus Christ, we should not allow our educational attainment to lead us astray.
    If God says sing unto me with your lips, do just that taking note of Rev 22:18,19.
    Using micro phone in the church does not mean cymbals etc. So I thank those who consider the changes Necessary to make our worship true.
    Remember John 12:48
    Evangelist Mojima Etokudo
    December, 9 2011
    I personally worship without instrumentation, however, If people want to imply the restriction of instrumentation, let it be historically proven. You must ask yourselves, “When did use of instrumentation cease, before or after the Resurrection. If Before, then it was not a NT teaching to cease. Then why would people preach that it is a NT teaching. I agree with the person at the top of the list We can not add “shall nots” when it is not obviously implied, which it is definately not.
    However, Head Coverings for women 1 Cor 11:1-16 is NOT TRADITION Alone! (Churches of Christ – shame on us for claiming it cultural!!!!!! – read it with the help of the spirit, because of God, Angels, Submission-man as head of woman, and no other practice from apostles or the churches of God, and people claim it is cultural! Mind blowing.)
    Kevin L.
    December, 9 2011
    In all the discussions about instrumental music in worship, it seems that Romans 14 is often overlooked. We tend to focus on whether the question of instruments is a “matter of opinion” or a “matter of faith/Scripture” — but it’s obvious that we don’t all agree on that. However, even IF it’s a “matter of opinion”, it seems that Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 should provide some guidance.
    Romans 14:14: “For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.” Verse 21: “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” And Verse 23: “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (ESV)
    1 Corinthians 8:13: “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”
    So even IF the question of instruments is a “matter of opinion”, if the instrument is imposed upon those for whom it is a “matter of faith”, would it not be causing those brethren to sin? It seems that it would be a similar situation as described in Romans 14, if the brother who knew that food offered to idols “didn’t matter” forced such food upon one whose upbringing made it impossible for him to not think about idol worship if he ate it — and thus caused him to sin. [I’m not suggesting that using instruments in worship IS a matter of opinion — but even if it were, it seems that this principle should override the desire to use them.] According to the principles in Romans 14 (and elsewhere), if it causes a brother to sin — or if it causes division — those who promote it are no longer walking in love.
    Instrumental music in worship is not something that can be ignored by anyone in attendance. If the instruments are played (and heard), how can those who are actively sinning (by going against their conscience, if a matter of opinion — or going against Scripture, if a matter of faith) engage in worship with a clean heart? They cannot; therefore, they must seek another place of worship. Therefore, a division is caused. But Scripture clearly shows that divisions are not good, so wouldn’t it just be better to remove the source of the division? (In this case, that would be the introduction of the instrument into worship.) It appears that we all agree that it’s scriptural to sing a cappella. So why not do that? Why do we “need” the instrument in worship?
    The same logic can apply to some other topics over which we have sadly divided through the years. Why not unite on what the Bible clearly says — and not impose our will on each other, particularly when the outcome affects each others’ ability to worship our Creator?
    Having said this, personally, I would prefer that the instrumental congregations not be listed in the book; however, since they are, hopefully they are clearly noted as such. Those who cannot in good conscience worship with instruments need to be able to find a congregation with whom they can.
    December, 9 2011
    If the “historical” a cappella churches have instrumental services, would they still be a cappella?
    Aaron Herren
    December, 9 2011
    I wade into this “discussion” with some hesitation because it is too reminiscent of the kind of spirit that has turned me away from such. However, there are encouraging notes I hear, one of which is the “historical” action prompting this CC announcement. After 30 years in the niCofC (non-instrumental Churches of Christ) “Lord’s Church” I am at a point where I can embrace CC/ICC (Churches of Christ/Independent Christian Churches) “Lord’s Church” and keep my “historical” roots intact which oddly enough are important to me. I think Alexander, Barton and a bunch of other “old school” brethren would applaud. For you who find my admission gut wrenching heresy, I apologize for the discomfort but remind you that this is just a forum for thought, it is not the final judgment– for you who will fear for me, rest easy as I do–trusting in Christ as my propitiation, not “the Lord’s Church” whether niCofC or CC/ICC.
    December, 9 2011
    This whole discussion greaves me greatly. One person predicted that the non-instrumental churches would vanish in 100 years. You might find our situation a bit over a hundred years ago interesting. After the split between Churches of Christ and Disciples the non-instrumental churches were pretty much decimated. It took a while, but at one point we had a membership created than both independent Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ. Even though this e-book is not directly related to this discussion I think many will find it helpful for further discussion. Go to Harding School of Theology (formerly Harding Graduate School) and look up Dr. Rick Oster, one of the most respected scholars among up us. When you find him you will find the link to his e-book. I think it might be the best three bucks you could spend. I personally am not upset by what is put in a directory. After all it is not the “Lamb’s Book of Life.” We should also be careful to post in a spirit of love.
    Richard Corum
    December, 9 2011
    Hey, calm down. It�s only a man made directory of loosely affiliated congregations historically connected with the Stone-Campbell movement of the early 1800’s and identified with a common name. Just like the yellow pages of the phone book, or particular congregation�s membership directory, it contains the names of members who have been baptized and want to be a member of that congregation. It is not divinely inspired or authorized, nor does any listings imply approval by the mind of God or those claiming infallible doctrine. If the congregation uses instrumental music, only one cup, don’t have Bible classes, require women to cover their head, allow women to pass the communion elements or ask participants to come to a table to partake, use praise teams as worship leaders, don�t support Christian colleges or orphan homes from their treasury, don�t use a local paid preacher, etc. etc. and other things Churches of Christ are split or in disagreement on, then list that in the directory so traveling Christians will have some clue what to expect if they attend a congregation with the name �Church of Christ � on their sign. That would be helpful to me. More than that and you must have established a creed other than the Bible and are identifying a particular denomination with no error and claiming to be the whole body of Christ.
    Clarence Richmond
    December, 9 2011
    John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
    2 John 9-11, Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
    2 John 6, And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.
    Doyal Wright
    December, 9 2011
    It’s good to see that so many commentators here have broken free of the chains that bound them, just like they did me for so many years. I remember the first time I actually said “I just can’t see God sending someone to hell for using a piano.” It was 20 years ago.
    You see, there is a difference between worshiping a cappella, which is the tradition I was born into, raised in, and the only way I feel truly free and unencumbered in my praise, and the doctrine that demands others follow our particular interpretation of the silence of scripture.
    It saddens me to see the comparisons above between instrumental music, the weekly commemoration of the Lord’s Supper, and adult believer’s baptism. The Sesame Street song “One of these things is not like the other…” keeps running through my head.
    Jonathan Clemens
    December, 12 2011
    Even to make a “Directory of Churches of Christ” is problematic. I understand and agree that such a directory is very handy, and could be very helpful, since we today are so mobile and like to know where there is a church to worship with when we travel. However, the difficulty is and has always been how do you decide who will be included or excluded. The editors of the directory make that decision and will have to live with it. The Churches of Christ DO NOT HAVE a directory. Those who publish it do have one and they have the right to sell it. I have the right to buy it. I also have the right to agree with their conclusions or not to agree. When we look at Christ’s words in the Apocalypse (chapters two and three), we observe that Christ apparently “fellowships” to some degree every one of the seven churches, while at the same time condemning some of their practices. He encourages all of them to remain in the truth, or to return to it. In the end, it will be Christ who decides who ought to be included in His “directory,” the only one that really has value. As far as I am concerned, the brethren can put the “instrumental” churches in if they want to. Why not? They have lots of others in who have slightly different beliefs than the majority, and these differences are noted. Some of these last have been the occasion for splits, large and small, but they are still in the directory. As for me, I will never do anything or propagate any opinion that will cause a division in the visible body of Christ, so help me God! I think that we must simply understand that the “Directory” is a (perhaps useful) tool created by some individuals, and NOT A FUNCTION of the church.
    Donald R. Taylor
    December, 12 2011
    50 years ago, consigning our independent Christian Church brethren to perdition for their musical practice would have hardly batted an eye.
    Now in the ensuing years, we are certainly making progress applying Rom. 14 in context, regardless of the chronic difficulty of some in similarly applying Eph. 5.
    Bob Brandon
    December, 12 2011
    I remember my dad saying that even a person who sings poorly need not worry if they are sincere in their worship, because God doesn’t “hear” or listen to the audible sounds–He is concerned only about what comes from the worshippers heart. If that’s true, instrumental music must not get any higher than the ceiling. In which case, the singer may hear and may (or may not) be aided by it, but God likely doesn’t even “hear” it.
    James Masters
    December, 12 2011
    If this listing of responses is representative of the Churches of Christ as a whole, it is mostly disappointing.
    Thanks Donald R. Taylor for an excellent point. (And there were a few other bright spots as well!)
    Perfect obedience and strict conformity to your or my view of THE BOOK is not a source of authority.
    I thought most Christians didn’t even go to church when they were traveling anyway. Maybe some of the preachers do so they know what innovation to preach against back home next Sunday.
    John Dobbs
    December, 13 2011
    As a former C of C guy, I greatly appreciate how I was raised, that is in following God’s word.
    I left because the arguments don’t hold up. 4 part harmony is not authorized by scripture, instead it was a 15th century Welsh innovation from their pubs. The hymn style is actually born from drinking songs.
    Women must keep their heads covered. We must raise up holy hands in prayer. The Spirit’s fire must not be put out. The sick must be anointed with oil and prayed over for healing. The list goes on….many clear Biblical directives which are “culturally specific and irrelevant” to church practice today?? But instruments and modern songs are not authorized??
    I think you see where I am going.
    God bless the tie that binds the Churches of Christ, with or without instruments. God bless the love we all have as followers of the risen Savior. Since all the law can be summed up with LOVE, let’s find our love of Jesus’ command and find our love of each other. There are billions of us Christians, surely the 1.3 million voice-only worshipers can let a few more into the arms of Jesus?
    December, 14 2011
    Speaking of unity, why is it that one side of the aisle is unwilling to give up its practice and teaching that God authorizes the mechanical operation of musical instruments in the assembly of saints, but expects the other side to be agreeable and yielding?
    <b>There is nor a single command or directive from God in the entire Holy Scripture that His followers are to worship Him with musical devices. No, NOT one!!! Yes, they were ordained by MAN (II Chron. 29:27), and they were practiced by man. <i>And it was also man who made the decision that worship with instruments is pleasing to God.</i></b>
    The sad part is that musical worship adherents justify their activity based on the no-condemnation “action” on God’s part. But then God has not specifically condemned the worship of and prayer to “<b><i>the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God</i></b>,” either.
    The New Testament church in the first century did not practice IM nor worship Mary. The papacy authorized both activities. Why accept one teaching and reject the other?
    Donnie Cruz
    December, 16 2011
    Reading through the majority of these comments reinforces my desire that our congregation ultimately drop the CoC name, thereby losing the stigma of judgmentalism and legalism that goes with it. We are still non-instrumental because we “prefer it”, certainly not because it is a salvation issue. I’m also proud of our shepherds for their committed study, and finally allowing all Christians the opportunity to serve the Lord’s Supper and pray in the assembly! Praise God for His love and grace!
    December, 24 2011
    It is easy to see that Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10) will have plenty of “lawyers” and backers on the day of judgment. It is also clear that Jesus will have plenty of accusers that He was judgmental and legalistic, in His desire for people to follow the will of God. It is amazing to me how defensive people get when their personal desires are confronted. It is not my personal desire to sing without instruments, other than I desire to follow the Lord and Master of my life and that is what He instructs me to do.
    George A. Sinkie
    December, 26 2011
    I also applaud this move, especially for congregations that still keep some a capella services.
    One thing people forget is that we don’t historically worship a capella because the Bible tells us so in Ephesians.
    We do it because Christian worship was drawn from Jewish synagogue worship which was a capella.
    When we tell people they must worship without instruments because the Bible says to make a melody in your heart in the book of Ephesians and that’s the only reason we give them, they can easily come back and say to us, “Well, the book of Ephesians was written 25-30 years after Christians began worshiping without instruments. Why did they not worship with instruments before Ephesians was written and distributed to all the churches?
    If you oppose instrumental worship, that’s okay, I prefer a capella myself, but please don’t use the New Testament as your only reason to be against it instruments.
    December, 28 2011
    Where in the Old Testament are synagogues “authorized”?
    Adam Gonnerman
    December, 28 2011
    Would God approved of Noah building the Ark out of Oak?
    ken hargesheimer
    December, 28 2011
    If we are commanded to sing to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs and NOT do what the psalms themselves say. (Praising God with instruments as stated in the psalms. – food for thought
    January, 4 2012
    When we are serious about unity in Christ (something Jesus clearly prayed for in John 17), then Christ, who He is, what He has done to redeem us, and what he has called us to, will become front and center. The plain things of scripture will become to us the main things that bind us together. Instrumental verses Acapella singing takes up too much time and energy as an issue, certainly isn’t front and center in the New Testament, and certainly isn’t an issue Christ or His apostles lifted to a level of being an identifying mark of a disciple of Christ. Our obsession with this issue, in my view, keeps the religious world at large from hearing us and from taking us seriously on other matters. Our young people are turned off because of the time consumed making such issues, and others like it, core doctrines that determine one’s faithfulness to God. It’s not that they (or many of us) haven’t heard the case for Acapella singing, many simply don’t interpret scripture from the legal perspective of direct command, approved example and necessary inference any longer. Churches that are acapella by conscience and conviction should continue as such while at the same time allowing freedom to those who accompany their praise with instruments. Neither, it seems from my reading of Romans 14, and from the emphasis of New Testament writings as a whole, should make such an issue the basis for fellowship in Christ.
    January, 4 2012
    One other thought to add: Those Churches of my acquaintance that have added an instrumental service, have done so out of a heart to reach this generation for Christ, in a culture where the medium of music is a powerful influence. Whether one agrees or not, Let’s stop assigning motives to one another like: “They only want to fill the pews.” If love hopes and believes all things, then out of love, we would stop rushing to assume the motives of our brothers and sisters hearts, and this would be a huge step toward greater unity.
    January, 4 2012
    The congregation who have choosen to use the instumental music in worship are the ones who have broken fellowship. I cannot and will not worship with anyone where the instrument is used. Why would you want to advertise their location. I can worship with brethren who have chosen to support good works in different ways but I cannot in good conscience worship with those who use the instrument. It is not just another way of doing something it is an unscriptural/unauthorized form of fworship and is therefore vain.
    Garry Neal
    January, 4 2012
    Garry, because you cannot or will not worship with anyone where the instrument is used does not mean it violates the conscience of other brethren (This seems to be the point of Romans 14.) Don’t worship in a way that violates your conscience. But these churches are not forcing you or the congregation where you attend to do so. While I can hold to my conscience, it seems to me that we do not have the prerogative to judge someone else’s servants (Romans 14:4). Perhaps we in Acapella churches have also broken fellowship by making this issue so core to our identity and our relationship with God. Does scripture really make questions of musical forms so clear and central to the gospel that fellowship in Christ hinges upon agreement in this matter? It’s not as clear to me and many others in our fellowship.
    January, 5 2012
    I continue to read posts on this article. It is obviously a very troubling issue for many of us who were “raised” in the Church of Christ. My belief is that each congregation, being under local elders, will follow their leaders’guidance regarding these and other matters. If a member cannot in good conscience worship with instrumenal assistance, then he/she will usually go to another congregation who has a worship format which allows him/her to worship comfortably. To me, it is a matter of a person not violating their conscience. However, I do believe in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and to stay in a fellowship and gossip, nitpick, and complain about this and other issues is, in my opinion, not encouraging the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Also, the “church” is more than one location. It is Jesus Christ’s church, universal and not confined by boundaries. To condemn other congregations is, in my opinion, as harmful as to condemn individual members in one congregation. Let each of us individually read, pray and serve God in Christ, in the Spirit, and in so doing we will glorify God, which is our purpose in the first place!
    Pat S.
    January, 5 2012
    Gary Neal—- by saying instrumental worship is “vain” you are adding a word and judgement that I also do not see in the Bible. Careful what you add in making these statements.
    Did you know that up until approx 400 AD people (including Jesus) were all baptized in rivers, lakes etc. Then someone thought it would be nice to build a baptistry. Where is our authority to do that? God looks at our hearts….bottom line.
    January, 5 2012
    Thank you to everyone who has commented. We’re going to cut off comments at this point rather than continue this discussion ad nauseum.
    Bobby Ross Jr.
    January, 5 2012

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