The cool cathedral

th-4My first album was released in 1969 and it was called “The Cold Cathedral” after the first song by that title about a young man who wanders into a church and cries out, to no avail, for someone to hear him and know him. It captured the fact that there was a generation of kids seeking spiritual answers to life while rejecting, and feeling rejected by, the institutional church of their upbringing. When I wrote that song, I had no idea that the church was going to be forever altered by that guy and all his friends with all their questions.

That first song was appropriately followed by another song called “The Road of Life,” about finding meaning and fulfillment in a real relationship with Jesus Christ while on the road of life. It was a fitting beginning to an era where God moved outside the walls of the church and brought many to a relationship with Himself. Many of these people did finally end up in the church, and pretty much shook things up when they came. It was as if a crowd of mostly young people were saved by Christ on the road of life, and instead of one person walking into the cold cathedral, there were hundreds — in some cases thousands — who came back to the church with their real questions and their longing to know more. It was an invasion, and there’s no way the church — at least the ones that welcomed these new believers — could stay cold.

But that was 45 years ago.  Much has happened in those 45 years to change this picture, and music has been the catalyst of this change. The youth invasion of the 1970s brought rock and pop music into the church. The music that had connected to this new generation and in large part was responsible for bringing them the gospel, became the new music of the church. Soon it was no longer message music — taking the message of the gospel to the world; it was now worship music — singing praise and thanks to God in a style relevant to the music of the day. Hymnals disappeared; organs were silenced; words went up on the wall, and rhythm sections became the norm. New churches were built with state-of-the-art sounds systems, video screens, stages and lighting. No one can say that the church is not relevant to the culture anymore. Being relevant is the new mandate of the church.

But I wonder. Could it be that there is a whole new group of people with questions no one is hearing or answering because everyone is so busy now trying to be relevant? Is it possible that the whole idea of being relevant is no longer relevant? Have we chased relevancy for so long that we have lost sight of why we’re doing this in the first place?  Has the “cold” cathedral become the “cool” cathedral — the cool place to be — that, despite its contemporary style, is as deaf to the cries of a new generation as the institutional church was to mine 45 years ago?

Regardless of what is happening on a large scale, you and I can be sensitive to what is needed on a smaller scale, and that is what has always been needed — people with an ear to the real cries of those around them to be heard, understood and cared for. People want to be known. Do we know our neighbors? Do we even know our friends at church? These are the questions of the day.

My “Cold Cathedral” song ended with the question, “Do you really care?” The cool cathedral song, if there was one, should end the same way.

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15 Responses to The cool cathedral

  1. Carole in Midland says:

    This one bursts the floodgates for me, John! Now I was one of those kids about 35 yrs ago and I remember the struggle to get the “Church” to catch up – but I don’t think we ever meant it to become Performance Art with the BEST vocals, musicians, technical acoustics and sound, and a bunch of folks just sitting back watching the show. What do I want to happen in Church? I want to participate in the noise of all the people lifting their good,bad, and downright awful voices to Heaven. I want to be taught what God SAID and what the setting was in which He said it and WHY He said it. I want to know what the pastor sees in the scripture, to be encouraged to dig DEEPER to see what we each might find in it and then have the opportunity for follow up in an arena where those insights can be shared and questions asked. Perhaps this could be in small groups either after the formal service or sometime during the next week. Maybe Sunday School could come after the service to meet that goal. I guess I want Sunday morning to be more of a giant Bible study and less of a spectator experience. That might be harder to achieve than putting on a show each week, but wouldn’t it be worth it? People NEED to connect to God AND each other, not just be entertained for an hour and then leave… I want to leave hungry for MORE and excited (and prepared!) to share what I received.

  2. Mark Seguin says:

    I’ll second my dear friend in the Lord & other Catch buddy, Carole’s post! 🙂

  3. I really have nothing good to say about church if the truth be told. I have long history with my experience of churches, but I agree they use music as an ‘attraction’! It is deceiving in many ways and can be a trap to believe what they want to lead you to! They are liars and trust me have been there done that! I will give you a short sight of what happened to me and really don’t believe you to trust me, because that would be something I no longer do, but is important for others to know about churches. They are false, heretic, unless you agree with their stances.
    This will be terribly long and hope you can endure it, but it is the brass ass truth! I was born and raised catholic, however because of the abuse I had suffered as a child, God started to reveal Himself to me. Yes I was the prodigal child who ran away, because I did not want to suffer. Well like I said in a previous post I cam back and married an abusive man who stopped me from going to a church that I was excited about. We divorced and I was looking for a new residence when my ‘new’ piano’ teacher recommended a place. Well there was another person involved that I was unaware of, yup another ‘Christian”, but I was overlooked and they both wanted to redeem me. The piano teacher was a New Age Christian and the other a Legalistic Christian. Wow, what a choice, huh! I find it funny how people have selective hearing when they want it, No one heard that I was a believer! I had gone to both of their churches only to be condemned, I was told I was not living my life for God, I am not in His will, I am reading the wrong bible, and needed to get baptized. Well howdy pastor, will you baptize me? No, this pastor said No 3 times b4 he would, then when that day came, the congregation fled like I was Satan himself! So this “good” christian woman brought me to another church after she chastised Amy Grant for remarry for the third time, I chuckled to myself because she was on her third marriage as well. She brought me to another church mind you and dropped me off like an orphan. I joined that church only to be shunned. It was a MegaChurch and learned people talked about me behind my back of the goodness they seen, but when they met me abandoned me like a wet noodle. One of the people I would visit told me how the pastor told her he didn’t know how to help me, really? A pastor talking behind my back! What you don’t have the balls to talk to me? Why because you didn’t like what I said?! Music, you say music, yeah they had a 2 page doctrine b4 you could sing a song to God, and in the same breath express that you use your talents in the church! Well how can one use a talent if a restriction is placed upon the people, no different from the pharisees and the law. Church No, give me Liberty or give me death! I think I’ll take ‘that’ road. This is not the whole story, but I think you get my jist, so saddle up

  4. Yeah a great tune Mark. I love music as sometimes it can be a ‘saving’ grace, so I leave you with this

  5. Well here is something that fits the subject on churches: There was a man his hair disheveled, wearing blue jeans and boots when he entered this upscale church. The congregation was appalled as the pastor calmed them stating he would handle the situation. After the service the pastor greeted the man and stated it was a pleasure to have him, but if he could dress up for the next service. The man departed and when the next service came the man showed up with his hair disheveled, wearing his blue jeans and boots. The congregation was aghast as the beckoned the pastor. He assured them they he would get it under control and gave his sermon. At the end of the sermon the pastor again greeted the stranger and said, “Listen, we are all believers here, why don’t you pray about what the Lord tell you to wear for this Sundays sermon!” The man acknowledged the pastor and left. On that third Sunday the man showed up with his hair disheveled, blue jeans and boots and the congregation again pleading the pastor. The pastor lifted his hand and said he had it under control, so after the service the pastor approached the man, ‘Did you pray about what I asked?’ The man nodded in agreeance, ‘ So what did the Lord say?’ Inquired the pastor. The man looked at him and replied, “He said He didn’t know because He’s never been here!” so there ya go! Is God in your church? How can you be sure?!

    • Mark Seguin says:

      Even though that SURELY is a funny story Colleen – God did through His Son, Jesus establish the Church and I think/believe one can be certain beyond a doubt God is in a person’s Church – through prayer and faith – The Church is NOT a building! Nor has it ever been, yet it’s a place where followers and believers in the Lord Jess Christ – God’s Son worship Him…

      Peace and love be unto you…

  6. Btw: Love you Mark, you made my night!

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