I suspect most Christians feel that one of the hardest people groups to reach with the good news about Jesus is… the ‘sorted’.

By the sorted I mean those who are living a happy life – they’ve got a nice home (nothing too extravagent of course), a good job with reasonable hours, just enough money for a nice holiday (nothing too exotic of course). They have a loving family, get involved with community projects, give to charities… you know who I’m talking about. You may even live next door to them.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of sharing the gospel with them is frankly daunting. Where do you start? No obvious trouble in life, no glaring idol that’s tearing them apart, no overt quest to find a greater truth… they seem sorted. How is Jesus going to be good news to them?

If you have the same reaction as me, then you will find Luke 6:24-26 sobering…

“Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”

Far from the ‘sorted’ leaving us lost for gospel-words, knowing people in this situation should set off alarm bells in our mind and cause great concern in our hearts. Far from the ‘sorted’ bring sorted, they are in fact in great danger.

So what can we say to the sorted?

Well… the gospel.

The gospel is about Jesus and the fact he is King. That’s why the response of the crowd to Peter’s gospel presentation is ‘what must we do?’ Jesus is King and whoever you are, you need to respond.

Thats the message, and whether you’re ‘sorted’ or not one day you will meet the King.

Do we love our sorted neighbours enough to get them ready?

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Adorable Redeemer
You who was lifted up on a cross
are ascended to highest heaven.
You, who as Man of sorrows was crowned with thorns,
are now as Lord of life wreathed with glory.
Once, no shame more deep than yours,
no agony more bitter, no death more cruel.
Now, no exaltation more high,
no life more glorious, no advocate more effective.

 

What more could be done than you have done!
Your death is our life,
Your resurrection our peace,
Your ascension our hope,
Your prayers our comfort.


So, at the end of 2011 I set the challenge of writing congregational songs.

Here’s a new tune to an old song… hope you like it!

The Old Rugged Cross

On a hill far away
Stood an old rugged cross
The emblem of suffering and shame
And I love that old cross
Where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain

So I’ll cherish the cross
The old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the cross
The old rugged cross
And exchange it some day for a crown
For a crown

Oh that old rugged cross
So despised by the world
Has a wondrous attraction for me
For the dear Lamb of God
Left his glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary

chorus

In the old rugged cross
Stained with love so divine
A wondrous beauty I see
For twas on that old cross
Jesus suffered and died
To pardon and sanctify me

chorus

To the old rugged cross
I will ever be true
It’s shame and reproach gladly bear
Then he’ll call me some day
To my home far away
Where his glory forever I’ll share

chorus

“Ministers are to cultivate gifts of preaching and prayer through study and diligence; they ought also to cultivate the capacity of composing spiritual songs and exercise it along with the other parts of the worship, preaching and prayer”.

So says the great hymn writer Isaac Watts.

I don’t really want to say much more than that, except that I’m going to try and write a lot more congregational songs in 2012 (keep up to date with them here). Will other gospel ministers join me?

It’s not complicated. If you’re daunted by the idea, find a familiar hymn tune, and a bible passage you’re going to be preaching on and start writing… Perhaps use your sermon points as themes for each verse, with a chorus that has the overall point as its content. If you want any help/input please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Here’s a song I wrote about the very difficult issue of abortion. It will hopefully go on the new album I’m recording next year (to support click here).

And here’s the blurb I’ve put on youtube.

As a songwriter you always want to tell a story, give a message. But sometimes its tempting to run away from the messages closest to your heart because of the controversy it might cause. 

I’ve tried not to run away in this song. 

This is about a very difficult, complicated and painful issue – abortion. No one song can tell the whole story, and I do not attempt to. I’m only telling one side, one story – but I think it’s an important one to tell, because the story is of those who have literally no voice.

This song is not meant to condemn anyone – condemnation is inappropriate and unhelpful in this whole area.

But I do hope this song provokes discussion – discussion that is so desperately needed in this country, but is so often avoided.

Michael Tinker is a professional musician and part of the Crowded House which is a church planting initiative in Sheffield and around the world. He's a follower of Jesus, Husband, Father, member of a Gospel Community, Musician and avid follower of fashion...

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