The Psychology of Self-centered Christianity


Yesterday our church had a send off service for a church plant. Our long-time pastor and several elders are leaving to plant a church a few miles away. The pastor said something yesterday that reminded me of a thought I had some weeks ago. He quoted Tim Keller (pastor of a church in Manhattan) saying that we (American?) Christians have done a good job internalizing the positive benefits of salvation by grace alone but have not done so well in going out to find the lost. The heart of the Gospel is a going out (like Paul and Barnabas) to the lost. It is not primarily about holding on to good feelings. The church should not be a country club where we come to get away. Rather, it should be “boot camp” to prepare us to go out.

I think this shows up in the kinds of songs we sing for worship. A couple weeks ago I started noticing how many of the songs we sing are focused almost completely on thanking God for what he has done in my life, for his grace, forgiveness, love, etc. Singing about these things is great. But do we also sing songs that move us out? I suppose “Onward Christian Soldiers” might not be our first choice, but do we have any contemporary songs that would parallel that hymn’s focus? How about something similar in sentiment to the African American national anthem (Lift Every Voice and Sing)?

Maybe some of you readers could remind me of contemporary songs that are not so self focused…

7 Comments

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7 responses to “The Psychology of Self-centered Christianity

  1. acts242

    Hi Phil here are the chourus’ of some contemporary songs that might be of some interest

    Missions Flame – Matt Redman
    Chorus 1
    You should be the praise
    Of ev’ry tongue Jesus
    You should be the joy of ev’ry heart
    But until the fullness
    Of Your kingdom comes
    Until that final revelation dawns
    Send us out

    I Will Go – Hillsong
    Chorus 1
    I will go where You want me to go
    I will do what You want me to do
    Yes I will go where You want me to go
    I will be who You want me to be
    Anything for You

    If You Say Go – Vineyard
    Chorus 1
    If You say go we will go
    If You say wait we will wait
    If You say step out on the water
    And they say it can’t be done
    We’ll fix our eyes on You and we will come
    Your ways are higher than our ways
    And the plans that You have laid
    Are good and true
    If You call us to the fire
    You will not withdraw Your hand
    We’ll gaze into the flames and look for You

    History Maker – Martin Smith (Curious? Music)
    Chorus 1
    I’m gonna be
    A history maker
    In this land
    I’m gonna be
    A speaker of truth
    To all mankind
    I’m gonna stand
    I’m gonna run into Your arms
    Into Your arms again
    Into Your arms
    Into Your arms again

    Here Am I – Brian Doerksen
    Chorus 1
    Here am I
    Send me Lord
    In my weakness I know You will be strong
    Here am I
    Empow’r me
    Stretch out Your hand to heal the sick
    Stretch out Your arm
    And set the pris’ners free
    Come fill me with mercy
    Send me out to heal the brokenhearted
    Come fill me with boldness
    I will speak Your words of life
    I will go in Your authority

    Ready Now – Jared Anderson (Desperation Band)
    Chorus 1
    So take this heart
    And make it new
    And make it true
    And make it like You
    Take my hands
    I lift them high
    They’re Yours not mine to do
    Do what You will
    Do what You will
    Do what You will

  2. Hey, great. I knew there must be some songs out there. I’ve sung songs by several of these writers, but not these.

  3. Rob

    Here’s one:

    Grace – U2

    Grace, she takes the blame
    She covers the shame
    Removes the stain
    It could be her name

    Grace, it’s a name for a girl
    It’s also a thought that changed the world
    And when she walks on the street
    You can hear the strings
    Grace finds goodness in everything

    Grace, she’s got the walk
    Not on a ramp or on chalk
    She’s got the time to talk
    She travels outside of karma
    She travels outside of karma
    When she goes to work
    You can hear her strings
    Grace finds beauty in everything

    Grace, she carries a world on her hips
    No champagne flute for her lips
    No twirls or skips between her fingertips
    She carries a pearl in perfect condition

    What once was hurt
    What once was friction
    What left a mark
    No longer stings
    Because Grace makes beauty
    Out of ugly things

    Grace makes beauty out of ugly things

  4. Great song. Does any church sing U2 songs on Sunday? That’d be different I’d imagine.

  5. wendy chou

    erh…U2 songs will be…probably frowned at by the senior pastor and elder and many parents… Recently a mother of my youth ministry told me that there are a number of parents who don’t feel comfortable allowing basketball hoop set up in the church parking lot because we should keep the church as a … holy ground.

    We’ve been singing the Missons Flame songs and the like for a while and we have had annual mission conferences, but the question remains to be the vision and mission of the church leadership. Unless church top leadership is feeling securely convicted, our natural tendency is to try to get people to come to our church building (and donate to the building fund) to sustain our vitality and monthly budgets. I’ve heard a few talked about ideas like this here and there in the past 25 years (or how we should follow the models from the book of Acts). But I’ve never really known of too many churches that actually send their best experienced team out to seek the lost – especially if it’s only a few miles away. So, to the church plant team of senior pastor and elders that was sent off in your church, my response was hats-off and God bless!

  6. You know Phil, the Jehovah’s Witnesses do this in their actions – and the rest of the world marginalizes or avoids them. The mormons do this with their young ‘Elders’ on missions. They too get marginalized. Perhaps what you do is not so bad after all.

    • Caleb

      or perhaps what they do is good, and actually better than us “christians” in the fact that atleast they are out there in the world. Their is method to the madness and theirs is not neccasarily a bad one mate

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