Indelible Grace (the pioneer of the hymns movement) is leading a hymnsing at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. This is exciting! (The artist list is pretty hot, too.) What is being undersold about this event is that it’s connected with a larger event–the General Assembly (GA) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). This is significant.
I was involved with the PCA for 5 years, gaining some important ministry chops at a church plant here in Denver, interacting with the other elders in our region (the Presbytery) as I came under care and pursued a pastoral internship. I’m now in the EPC, so I’m an outsider looking in (my perspective may be off). I haven’t spoken to Kevin Twit or Matthew Smith (Indelible Grace guys) about this lately, but a conversation we had a few years ago in Nashville gave me the impression that Indelible Grace, to my surprise, was still trying to gain a sense of legitimacy among the old-liners in the very denomination that birthed the movement.
Because I was involved in a PCA church plant, and because the other PCA churches I was connected with nationally were generally other church plants, “Indelible Grace” was a byword for everything that we wanted our worship to be all about–theological depth, historical-rootedness, cultural-connectedness, gospel-centeredness, old hymns to new music, etc. But the new church plants do not summarize the ethos of the denomination. My conversation with Twit and Smith revealed that there were still traditionalists purists who did not care for or even opposed the enterprise of setting old hymns to new music. (This is surprising, because, as I discussed in a previous post, Indelible Grace and those in the hymns movement, are actually MORE true to the practice of historical church music than those who are pure traditionalists.)
So now we find ourselves at the place where Indelible Grace is headlining a major event at the PCA GA. Even more, the GA’s theme is “Love, Sing, Wonder,” taken from John Newton’s hymn, which has been one of Indelible Grace’s more popular hymn re-sets.
I thank God that the PCA is placing Indelible Grace in a prominent position. Indelible Grace deserves it. They’ve carved a new path that has had considerable grass roots, underground influence on mainstream evangelical worship. I would very much consider my own passions and desires for the broader church’s worship (having come out of a more mainstream evangelical setting growing up) shaped and influenced by IG. Despite continued traditionalist objections, IG is doing traditional worship a huge favor, and hopefully there will be more of a coming together of traditionalists and those who are comfortable with modern musical styles, because what they DO share is the most important thing–a commitment to biblically rooted, historically informed congregational songs.