There are three ways to use a secular song in your service at church.
1. Pretend that the songwriter is singing about God and not his girlfriend.
2. Wait for a Christian band to cover it so it becomes socially acceptable.
3. Godify the lyrics so that they feel like a church song.
Number 3 is far and away my favorite method. Unfortunately, a lot of the churches choose to take option 1 so I am often denied the delight of the third path.
A girl recently told me that at her former youth group used to sing a version of Naughty by Nature's song, "OPP." During the 90s, this song was massive. I didn't love it as much as perhaps the vocal acrobatics of "Color Me Badd," but it was still really popular. In the song, a young man extols his appreciation for a variety of body parts and romantic relationships in a way that is less than scriptural. He tops off the ballad with a chorus that contains the phrase "You down with O.P.P.?"
I'll let you figure out what OPP stands for (don't google it at work), but at my friend's church they changed the lyrics to "you down with G.O.D.?" Instead of rapping a sexual, testosterone filled jumble of words, they cleaned it up a little and opened up youth group with the song.
That is fantastic. I personally wish someone would do that with Prince's entire catalog. Just imagine the possibilities:
- Purple Reign (This would be about God's majesty.)
- His (Instead of "Kiss" this song could be about belonging to God)
- Serving Mother Helper (This really dirty Prince song could instead be about helping your mom around the house.)
- Raspberry Tankini (Instead of a beret, we could sing a song about proper bathing suits.)
Those are silly, but I promise, the next time you hear any of those songs, in your head you'll think, "She wore a raspberry tankini, the kind you find at a Christian bookstore."
Every Sunday at SHBC before we dismiss our worship services, we hold hands. Which of course is awesome. But all too often, I find that some followers of Christ violate the three simple rules of hand holding. So as a service to the greater Christ-following, church attending population, I'm like the Billy Graham of sarcasm, I thought I would quickly review the three things you should never do when holding hands with strangers:
1. Interlink your fingers
This is way, way, way too intimate to do if you don't know me and are not married to me. But some people do it. Instead of doing the "hey pal I know we're holding hands which is weird but oh well" palm in palm grip, they weave their sweaty fingers between yours. As soon as someone does that to me, the 13-year old in me automatically thinks, "this person is trying to make out with me." Don't do this ever.
2. The "you're great squeeze"
For some reason lots of Christians feel the need to punctuate a good hand hold with a tiny gesture. They want closure. But please, avoid the temptation to end the hand holding session with a "Jesus loves you" squeeze. It's nowhere near as intimate as interlinking, but it still feels a little creepy coming from a man in his mid-50s that up to 30 seconds ago I had never seen in my entire life.
3. The linger
When it becomes clear that the hand holding is over, I expect you to let go of my hand like a bank robber fleeing the scene of the crime. Seriously, let's not be the last people pressed together with our hands awkwardly connected. Think of letting go as a race. I want us to win. I want you and I to set new land speed record in letting go. Come on, we can do it. Eye of the tiger. Eye of the freaking tiger.
Those are not the only hand holding techniques or rules if you will, just mine.
What rules do you swear by when it comes to holding hands with strangers at church?
Yes, God wants us to be compassionate and kind and tender with each other. Not only that, but he wants us to love our enemies and serve our neighbors. As long as there is no body on body action. I'm talking of course about a "full frontal hug," one of those sinful abominations where you just wrap your arms around a friend and embrace them. That's why Christians the world over have pioneered the "side hug." In the side hug there's no risk of two crotches touching. Instead of face to face, you go side to side, putting your arm around the person and your hip against their's. Still having a hard time mastering it? Pretend you're taking a photo and you're both looking at the camera together. The side hug, or A frame as it is also called, is safe for the whole family, friendly and above all holy. I don't know the exact scripture reference but try the book of Psalms.