You’re won’t usually hear Don McLean’s “American Pie” or The Fifth Dimension’s “Aquarius” during a Sunday sermon. But that’s what parishioners at Searchlight Ministries, a Christian Reformed Church congregation in Jamestown, Mich., heard recently.
Stan Drenth brings oldies music to church.
It’s part of a seven-week series pastor Stan Drenth is calling “The Summer Oldies Series: Countdown to No. 1.”
An enthusiast of 1960s and 1970s music, Drenth got the idea for the series after he discovered that his son liked much of the same music. He planned the series tying classic songs back to another set of “oldies”—selected chapters from the book of Psalms.
“We read a passage from the Psalms (at the beginning of the message) and use the classic songs as a cultural adaptation,” Drenth said. A video featuring images from that era accompanies each song.
In the first sermon of the series, Drenth paired Psalm 29, a praise psalm, with “Aquarius,” a song that speaks to the coming of a new age with “harmony and understanding.” Drenth pointed out that many of the song’s promises don’t come to fruition, and that true praise and honor is to God alone.
He paired Psalm 79, a lament psalm, with “American Pie,” the 1972 McLean classic that laments “the day that music died.” The song depicts what Drenth calls “a decade of lament”—starting with the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper, to the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Drenth noted that it’s appropriate for God’s people to lament their sins and appeal for God’s grace and mercy.
While some might question the use of secular music in sermons, Drenth said such songs can be used as illustrations to help bring people back to worshiping God.
“Everything is redeemable. The devil doesn’t have all the good music. It’s the perspective we bring to it,” Drenth said.
Other psalms (and classic songs) in the series, which runs through late August, include the following:
- Psalm 106 (confession) and “Midnight Confessions” by the Grass Roots
- Psalm 124 (thanksgiving) and “Thank the Lord for the Nighttime” by Neil Diamond
- Psalm 4 (trust) and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who
- Psalm 71 (royal enthronement) and “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas
- Psalm 112 (wisdom) and “Get Together” by The Youngbloods