Overseers Adam Diehl & Jon Paul Robles

I fear I might be getting up on a soapbox too much with this post, but this particular issue is very important to me and I think it really matters for the integrity of our worship in our churches.

Independence Day is coming up soon (It’s July 4th this year, isn’t it?). Most churches in America will be doing something to honor the holiday. Most often, this is done with artistic elements – songs and videos. I don’t have a problem with this. Using current events to demonstrate spiritual truth is great! Praying for our country and leaders is mandated by scripture. Giving thanks to God for the freedom we have to worship is also great. These examples could be illustrated with this picture. I am a Christian. I am also an American. They are not the same thing.

Allow me to be clear – we should live our Christianity in the context of being an American (if you’re an American). I love that. Both the blue and the red circles above can and do have a place in the church. I have no problem with that.

However, from my perspective I think the American Church has somehow weaved together their Christianity with Patriotism in an unhealthy way. It’s like some churches treat patriotic seasons with equal significance as Easter and Christmas! Some of the videos that are marketed to churches for use on Patriotic holidays make me wonder if we’re here to worship Jesus or worship America! When we do this we’re blending our blue and red circles and it makes church . . . something different.

Think of the words to songs that some churches use in their worship service. “My country, ’tis of thee – the sweet land of liberty – OF THEE I SING” ??? SERIOUSLY?! I thought we were here to sing about Jesus! This song has absolutely no place during a worship set; the title and first line specifically state that it is about a nation (not God)! Similar connotations could be made to other songs which imply God saved our country (and nobody else), or that sing continuously about the attributes of a nation instead of the attributes of God. Anyone who insists of blending the “Star Spangled Banner” or “My Country Tis of Thee” in a worship set needs to develop a Biblical definition of Worship! God must be the focus of our worship – anything else is just music.

Again, allow me to be clear – I’m not anti-America. I love America. I’m not anti-patriotic songs in church. I’m just against weaving them together as if they were the same thing (and unless we are extremely intentional about it, that’s exactly how it will be perceived).

For example – I try to leave out patriotic songs from the worship set but instead we may do an instrumental patriotic song during offering. Or if we show a patriotic video, we may follow it up with a prayer for our country. We’re living out our Christianity in the context of our location.

Worship leaders and Pastors in America – as you prepare for this upcoming Independence Day church services, ask yourself: “If an English speaking Christian foreigner came to my church this weekend, would they be able to worship with us or would they be confused about whether or not they’re in a church?”

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