The Preference Pendulum

A few years ago, I was talking to a friend prior to the Sunday morning service. We were discussing two nationally-known Christian speakers, and he was going off on one, and gushing all over the other.

In his opinion, one was borderline Anti-Christ, and the other should’ve written the 67th Book of the Bible. Ironically, I had the opportunity to spend some back-stage time with both men at different times. And in private moments, let’s just say I saw both of them not at their best. So I cautioned my friend, “Be careful—both ways.”

As church people, it seems like we’re notorious for swinging widely on the preference pendulum. Loudly criticizing what doesn’t please us. And blindly protecting what does. Probably because many of our preferences are so intertwined with our belief system and our life experiences with faith and church—along with our perceptions of various Christian luminaries. As church leaders, we know the reality of the back rooms of ministry. We know the shortcomings of those in influential positions. And if we’re honest, we also know our own—all too well.

I’ve seen recent “critiques” of specific worship songs. Somebody I don’t know is telling me why I shouldn’t use this song or that song in our church’s corporate worship. A springboard for all this may have happened a few years ago, when Chuck Colson (yes, that Chuck) took it upon himself to slam the congregational worth of Kelly Carpenter’s worship song, “Draw Me Close.”

We all have preferences. Opinions. And thanks to blogs like this, all of us have access to bigger platforms and wider circles of influence these days. Which means we should all probably stop, think and consider our words carefully before we speak. Or write. Or basically, judge.

I love Rich Mullins’ quote when it comes to theology. He said, “God is right. The rest of us are just guessing.” So I think a little more humility would serve us all very well, when it comes to our theological stands and our worship preferences.

Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t sugarcoat its heroes. Maybe you’ve seen this list before, in various forms. Here it is from a blog called “Wonderfully Flawed” by Missy Butler:

Noah was a Drunk
Elijah was Suicidal
Peter was a Coward
Jacob was a Deceiver
Rahab was a Prostitute
Samson was a Womanizer
Moses had a Self-esteem problem
David was an Adulterer/Murderer
The Samaritan Woman was Divorced (a lot)

Wonderfully flawed. Yes, that’s us. All of us. Except the One Who walked among us a couple thousand years ago, loved us, healed us, died for us, rose for us, and now intercedes for us. Apparently, our Intercessor has a bigger, more constant job than we’d like to admit.

Maybe we should all stop swinging our preference pendulums so widely. Here’s a common saying: truth is usually somewhere in the middle. That’s one of the reasons why I love this song so much. Truth really is at the center of it all. And with Israel’s struggles recently coming to light, hearing him sing this song makes it all the more poignant.

OUR HUMANITY AND SIN DOES NOT DILUTE THE POWER OF TRUTH—IN SCRIPTURE OR IN SONG. RATHER, IT REVEALS OUR DESPERATE NEED FOR IT.

Recently, we sang “Healer” at my church. Yes, Mike Guglielmucci’s deception still comes to mind, but it’s quickly overshadowed by the power of truth that Jesus will ultimately and fully heal.

As we keep Him at the center, He forgives, purifies and heals. Maybe that’s His biggest miracle of all.

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As a songwriter, worship leader and a member of the marketing team, Paul is connected to CCLI in every possible way. Paul serves as CCLI’s Content Creator in the U.S. Service Center in Vancouver, Washington. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from George Fox University and has served as a marketing/communications specialist and a worship leader for a number of churches and ministries.

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