Life Compass
Keeping You Pointed in the Right Direction

Pipe Organs, Preaching, and a Pip Squeak

On Wednesday night I attended the famous Campus Church of Pensacola Christian College.

The interior of the Crowne Centre  is beautiful and majestic as you enter the atrium. Once inside the auditorium it becomes apparent it was designed for performances and operas but not for preaching.  The theater style seating rows go on and on with only a center aisle. It is not easy nor conducive to respond to the preaching by coming to the altar since one must climb over thirty or more people to get to an aisle. The balcony is like the upper deck of a baseball park. It lacks easily accessible stairways down into the main auditorium. Instead the exits push people into an upper hallway to the elevators. Not exactly a warm invitation to come and do business with the Lord at the altar.

In short, the Crowne Centre is nice but it is not functional as a church facility. There are mega churches across America which are much nicer and better suited for people to experience worship and the presence of the Lord by inviting the congregation forward. Every aisle and seat angle is focused toward the altar. I also found it annoying I could not hear the piano during the opening preludes because they do not mic the piano. The sound system in that multi-million dollar edifice was less than impressive. In fact, the reverb and echo sounded hollow, cold, and more like a stadium public address system. “Now batting … number seven…”

One cannot walk on the campus of Pensacola Christian College and not see that Dr. Arlin Horton certainly has vision. I would never question his sincerity for the Lord nor his passion for training young people to serve God.

But despite PCC and the Campus Church’s best PR campaigns to market themselves as an “independent, fundamental Baptist” institution to the churches from which the vast majority of their student body comes from … at times it is an epic fail.

Case-In-Point: Pastor Neil Jackson. Grandson of an old time campmeeting revivalist, Maze Jackson, Neil brought in IFB (Independent Fundamental Baptist) fireballs but was then black balled and gone from the Campus Church.

At PCC’s very roots, and the heart of Dr. Horton, it is a Protestant institution. Originally geared more for an evangelical Presbyterian student body, changes had to be made when the administration realized its greatest potential for student enrollment would come from among independent Baptists (conservative in dress and music standards). The college retooled and remarketed itself as Baptistic. This included the Campus Church. Most IFB Pastors had (and still do) serious reservations about a college starting a church. Biblically, it’s backwards. The church is the God ordained institution from which other ministries are to be branches off of.  Not to mention a local New Testament church is an ecclesiastical body of believers under Christ led by a God called Pastor serving with deacons and perhaps additional pastoral staff.  It was certainly never meant to be organized as sole proprietorship where the Pastor is hired rather than called by the members.

This is exactly why for over twenty years I have never recommended PCC to any young man who believed God wanted him to prepare to be a Pastor. Preacher boys need to attend colleges based out of strong, Pastoral led churches. Just as Paul trained Timothy … Pastors need to train future pastors.  This may seem like a small point but it speaks to the PCC administrative disregard for the office of the Pastor. Case-In-Point: a young person can get into PCC without a Pastoral Recommendation. In fact, unlike other Christian colleges … PCC does not contact Pastors about students from their churches and schools seeking enrollment.

If a young person wants to go into business, study nursing, teach in a Christian school … PCC will give them excellent training. But one does wonder what their convictions regarding faithfulness to the local church and respect for the office of the Pastor will be upon graduation.

Now, bringing our teens to PCC for camp WAS the right choice. But after sitting through the midweek service of the Campus Church it was very clear they have a form tradition which makes no flexibility for the Spirit to operate. Dr. Kenny Baldwin was limited to fifteen minutes. Now, when you bring in a man who has an obvious anointing and whose messages have already been used in camp that week to touch hundreds of young people … you do not shackle him but rather turn him loose. The pipe organ recitations were longer than the preaching. I must admit, hearing a pipe organ reminded me more of the Crystal Glass Cathedral than an IFB midweek service. My teens felt let down after that service which lasted only fifty minutes. They asked, “that’s it?”

But again, the auditorium is designed for performances. Ministers performing biblical lectures without fire or conviction do not need altars, aisles, or the Spirit. Pipe organs, french horns, and hymns sung in the “appropriate” meter at one or two verse (we must not get carried away by singing an entire song) intervals make for an ejoyable evening at The Opera butit is not life changing in any respect. Churches that desire to magnify Christ and see people grow make preaching pre-eminent … not a four story chandelier in the lobby.

Now, keeping in mind the auditorium is all about performance … you can understand my perplexity when I was told my daughter did not place in their singing competition (a competition by definition is a judged performance) because he (a college age music judge … the only judge for this competition I might add) did not “feel” she sang from the heart. In fact, he said she was sensual and worldly and not Christ honoring. It is a very good thing for him some of my teens were standing close by watching and that I was feeling refreshed from the incredible service we just had under Dr. Baldwin’s anointed preaching. Otherwise, I’d be in jail and he would never sing again.

A young, singl twenty something year old who has lived less time than I have been in the ministry is not going to lecture or school me on what is and what is not Christ honoring. Especially about my daughter. Yes, I am a dad!!!!

BUT Hannah has sung in hundreds of services and meetings including regional conferences for some of the most nationally recognized names in IFB circles and NONE OF THEM ever heard what this pimple face, pencil neck, pip squeak heard.

The Midnight Cry is her signature song. It is requested by people who know her and love her.

As I stated in another article, he pulled her sound track and made her sing with a pianist she had never sung with and no rehearsal time. He even told me, “her voice quality and note range” were not the issue. He didn’t “feel” she was singing from her heart in a way that honored the Lord. He then used the word sexual.

At that point for his safety and my testimony I knew I needed to walk away. After calming down I called a good pastor friend who knows Hannah well. He made this observation, ” the young man obviously has a perverted mind. He was probably drawn to her and rather than dealing with himself before the Lord he punished her.” He then said I should have made the kid Biblicaly define sensual.

What actually hurt PCC in all of this was that the people who did win were not good. People sitting in the audience knew that. In fact, the second and third place winners were terrible. Puzzled looks and shacking heads as the names were read meant PCC took a credibility hit in an area they pride themselves in: Music. The winner, as I predicted yesterday, was the cookie cutter – sweet, plain, heard it a thousand times before. I knew Hannah was not their style BUT it was a shock to all who were in the hall and heard the competion that she did not place. People from other churches approached her and I about it.

Obviously not only was Hannah let down in not placing but hearing that someone found her “performance” sensual was absolutely shattering to her esteem and emotions and character. She’s a good girl. Nope, not just daddy talk, but I have been her pastor since her birth. She’s a good girl who loves the Lord and has a God given gift, calling, and anointing.

In between the tears and her friends hugs I told her not to let this one individual’s opinion deter her or rob her of what God has done in her life this week.

The one chuckle I do get in all of this …. in a place that turns out canned musical tour groups that perform like robots to an approved script, picked another robot and called her rehearsed presentation “from the heart.” The girl who actually did sing from her heart to the Lord the way she felt the song … was called a performer.

Things that make you say WOW!

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