Monday, September 15, 2008

The Gospel According to Kyle

There’s an old joke among pastors. It goes like this: “Do you know what a praise chorus is? One word; two notes; three hours.” It wouldn’t be funny if there weren’t some truth in it. The joke reflects some of the frustration and exasperation pastors feel with the banality and triviality of some (not all) contemporary Christian music and that style of worship that reduces all worship to a self-absorbed, narcissistic emotional “high,” where every Sunday has to be a “pep rally,” and every sermon a little “pep talk.” You know the kind.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be contemporary and Christian at the same time, (as my late friend Bob Webber kept reminding us) provided you let the Gospel drive worship rather than the supposed “needs” of the worshiper. You can have driving rhythms, upbeat tempo, syncopation and contemporary musical styling and still be authentic to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course, you’ll have to think a little harder than just “one word, two notes, three hours.”

Kyle Matthews does. I’ve had Kyle in nearly every church I’ve pastored through the years, and he’s never failed me or disappointed me. He’s a powerful proclaimer who uses, along with his Gospel words, provocative and moving music to drive the Gospel home to the heart. There is passion in his music and profundity in his lyrics that I rarely find in much of the contemporary Christian music I hear these days. His music moves me; his lyrics surprise me; his message haunts me as only Gospel can. Some examples.

Sometimes I Picture God That Way

Sunburned face and weathered hands
He stretches out the nets again
He steps among twisted lines
And works them out in his good time

Sometimes I picture God that way
Untangling all the mess I’ve made
Unraveling my line
So I can fish again one day
Sometimes I picture God that way

On the Night He Was Betrayed

On the night he was betrayed
Jesus led them to a feast
And invited everyone
Even Judas had a seat
And he showed them how the bread
Must be broken first before they could be fed
And he poured the wine to say
How much he loved them
On the night he was betrayed

I’ll Meet You There

I’ll meet you there
Beneath the star
To see from there if we were wise
To walk by faith so far
Where hope was born, long after dark
I’ll meet you there, beneath the star

I’ll meet you there
Beside the cross
To see from there if we’re as hopeless
As we always thought
Where love endured, though life was lost
I’ll meet you there, beside the cross

I’ll meet you there
Inside the tomb
To see from there if maybe we give up
One day too soon
Where joy awoke and rose full-bloom
I’ll meet you there
Inside the tomb
Beside the cross
Beneath the star

This is the Gospel of Christ. Thanks be to God!

For more on Kyle and his music, visit

1 comment:

Jason said...

For the first few years after my conversion, I harbored some guilt over the fact that I secretly loathed almost every praise chorus I heard. The guilt went away after I matured a little. The loathing remains. I do, however, have some sympathy for those who are taken by the self-absorbtion. We live in a self-absorbed world, where feeling good is paramount. More and more, the Church wants to look and act like the world. In our zeal to remain "relevant" we (the Church) have rendered ourselves completely irrelevant. Our worship music only reflects it.