The Oklahoman, Newsok.com

Recently I received an email from an individual who had some information about the Quail Springs church in Oklahoma City. I will not give the individual’s name, and I know nothing about him but his name, and here is what he wrote:

Last year you blogged about Quail Springs Church of Christ in Edmond, Oklahoma and the changes the church was going through by adding instrumental music to their service. While attending school nearby I had a few classmates who were members of the church and I recently bumped into them again and they told me that Quail is now in turmoil again as Mark Henderson, the pulpit minister, had suddenly decided to step down. I don’t know any details but I was curious what your thoughts were on the current situation and how making such a controversial decision can still have a negative influence on a church several years later. I just don’t see how a church’s leadership can allow something as insignificant as music to tear its membership apart.”

I want to say that I have no delight in hearing that things aren’t well at Quail Springs. But it is not unexpected. One point about the email that is interesting is the closing line about the leadership allowing something so “insignificant as instruments” to divide the church. The Quail Springs Leaders believed the question of whether or not to use instruments was a “non-issue”. The Leaders were in favor of introducing the instruments. Mark Henderson was in favor. The Leaders believed the matter to be so insignificant that they decided they must have them.

The problem was that many in the congregation disagreed. It wasn’t an “non-issue” for the 300 Christians who walked out of the church due to the fateful morning that the Leaders announced that instruments would be brought into the worship. The Leaders would be in agreement with the emailer, having instruments is no big deal. They cared more about appealing to their members who wanted instruments and to appealing to outsiders who might attend if there were mechanical instruments (this was their own words). Looked at another way, the Leaders with Mark Henderson believed introducing instruments WAS a big deal. Having them was such a big deal that the Leaders turned their backs on many of their members. Their decision ripped the heart out of the church. The people that walked out were not Legalists. They were people of conscience. It is not an insignificant thing to make Christians worship contrary to their conscience. In a way, the emailer is right and such a thing shouldn’t cause a split. The Quail Springs leaders should have cared more about worshiping as prescribed in the New Testament rather than looking to denominations for direction.

According to the email, instead of great unity and spiritual health, the decision only led to more trouble. This should have been expected. When you allow the salesman to get his foot in the door, it’s harder to turn him away. If you open the door a little, it won’t be long before it is flung wide open. And the door is flung wide open at Quail Springs in Oklahoma and only God above knows where it will spiral next. Quail Springs sowed division and they have reaped more trouble. Mark Henderson and the Elders said in their own words that for years they always treated the musical instrument as a non-issue. Turns out they were wrong.

I’ll say it again. Church, we must sing if we want “unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-5). Sing spiritual songs. Sing from your heart and glorify God. Sing to encourage and admonish your Christian family. But don’t add to what God said by justifying the introduction of musical instruments based on Old Testament ceremonial worship. Blessings to you.

Let me also say that this Blog is about upholding the Truth. What I’m talking about here is public knowledge. Go to the Quail Springs web-site. Do a Google search about Quail Springs and Mark Henderson. So it’s not like I’m doing something sinful, out of order according to Matthew 18:15ff. This needs to said for the benefit of others. Check out Oklahoma, the newspaper that reported on the issue. Even the Brethren who think the public denouncement of the Quail Springs church was wrong, are themselves publicly denouncing the denouncers. Our sons and daughters live in Oklahoma and they must decide where to worship. If we care about their souls, these issues need to be addressed and pointed out so that the unsuspecting are not caught up in the error. May we truly “speak the truth in love.”
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Categories: divsion, mechanical instruments, Quail Springs

16 replies

  1. One reader emailed me and had a little different reaction to the email that you can read above in this blog post. According to this person, his guy reaction to the email was that the emailer didn’t really mean to imply, as I interpreted, that adding the instruments was the right thing to do, but only that instruments are so unimport or “insignificant” that he was amazed that the Leaders could split the church over it. Hmmm. Reading the email again, that could be the idea and if so, then I apologize for misinterpreting his concerns. – Dan


  2. “It wasn’t an “non-issue” for the 300 Christians who walked out of the church on the fateful morning that the Leaders announced that instruments would be brought into the worship.”

    I’m not splitting hairs over your argument…but pointing out a bit of a dramatic liberty.

    Short of visited with the 300 who left. We have no way of knowing whether IM was a non-issue to them or not. Can we?

    I happened to be there on the “fateful” morning and I do not recall 300 people standing up and leaving. Actually, I’m quite sure I didn’t see five people leave that morning. 300 people did in fact leave over the course of the next several months – over a variety of issues. Some joined other Chuch’s of Christ and many of them now attend non COC Church’s with instrumental worship.

    Based on your stance I can only assume you have personally visited with the Elders, Ministry staff, members, or former members of Quail Springs in addition to your review of public record on the issue. Correct?


  3. Dear Anonymous who claims to have been present on that fateful morning. Here is what the Oklahoman said,

    “Mark Henderson, teaching and preaching minister at Quail Springs Church of Christ, recently shared information about the church’s plans to add a worship service that will include musical instruments. The new service, which begins Sunday, is a break from Church of Christ tradition. Henderson said the decision came through lengthy prayer and study. Even so, about 300 people left the church, 14401 N May, in opposition of the change.”

    I trust what the Oklahoman reported about that day more than you. I think you are honestly mistaken without the facts.

    The Brotherhood News said, “At least 300 members have left the church after the decision was announced, Henderson told The Oklahoman newspaper in an interview that appeared on January 26.”

    You do however admit that 300 left, only not because of the instruments. You say it was for a “variety of reasons” and “many of them now attend non COC Church’s with instruments.” Are you now assuming this or did you personally interview all of these people? Since Mr. Henderson himself said that the people left on that fateful morning, I doubt that you would for sure know who they people were – seeing as you only saw five of them leave.

    Here are the links for the story in the newspaper.




  4. DM:

    I realize it’s difficult to discern inflection in a written document, but when you say Anonymous “claimed” to have been there the day the vote was taken, I sense sarcasm because they don’t agree with your interpretation of a newspaper article written by someone who most probably was not there either. I was there, and Anonymous is correct. There was no mass exodus that morning. According to the article, Mark Henderson claimed that three hundred people left the church, but he didn’t say they all left that morning. Again, Anonymous is correct; they left gradually over the next few months, many of them starting another congregation where I now attend. Mark Henderson’s assertion that these people left in opposition to the IM issue is also incorrect. While he would love to paint it that way, many, if not most, of those people left because they had lost confidence in their leadership, which was unwilling or unable to stand up to Henderson’s relentless pursuit of his own agenda, regardless of the fact that it was tearing the congregation apart. I feel confident in this assertion because I’ve spoken with dozens of these people over the past two years, something which I doubt you have done. Just a suggestion, but you might do a little more research before you adopt such an arrogant tone, taking the word of a newspaper with no personal interest in the situation over the word of a member of the congregation who really was there.


  5. Dear Anonymous, so what? Do you merely want to argue? Mark Henderson said the congregation was reduced by 300 because of this decision. Is that a leadership matter? Yes. I'm not sure, but are you saying you and the others didn't have a problem with the specific matter of instruments, but that you did have a problem with his leadership in general?

    Henderson and the Leaders brought division to the church. You and many others, not just 5, left because of the leadership decision. Unless you left to start your own instrumental church, you are just arguing a distinction without a difference.

    I do trust the public record on the matter more than I trust an anonymous person.


  6. You have 2 comments by people actually there and all you can say is “so what”? How arrogant. You obviously only care about your own agenda instead of listening to people who were there. Now I have never seen this website and I am not the same anonymous as above but your arrogance reeks and hopefully I won't run across your website again.


  7. Dear Anonymous (last one),
    If you step back and look at the big picture, it is clear that the Instrumental Music decision was the major factor in dividing Quail Springs. I don't know peoples' motives, but why should I trust you anonymous people over Mark Henderson himself? He said in the interview with the paper that it was the instruments. You can't take that away. Maybe you don't want to admit how divisive the instrument is, but the instruments were added and the church split. You call that arrogant? I call it facts and for some reason you people seem to want to distort the public record.

    Also I heard the audio by Mark Henderson and the Leader where they were trying to do some damage control because the church was obviously thrown into turmoil by Henderson's call to “embrace discomfort”. The church understood perfectly what he and the leaders were saying. They were saying, 'you aren't comfortable with instruments, but you embrace it because we are going to appeal to those that want instruments.” All of the damage control couldn't change the message. Have a good day.


  8. To DM,
    Never mind these people who won't admit that instruments divided the church. By the decision of the Quail Springs leaders to force christians to worship with instruments, they have proven again what they love most. Any word on how Quail is doing now?


  9. Quail Springs is doing great. Thank you for asking. It is a Church Family with a bright future for equipping believers and sharing Jesus in Oklahoma City. I hope you'll join us sometime. The A cappella service starts at 11:15.


  10. Hi I’m Lorena G. and I was in the church when they announced that Quail was going to use instruments. I didn’t see any unusual exodus that day. There have been a lot of families that have left Quail but the majority was not over the instruments. I went there for years, I was baptized there, I still have many people there I love and I think are great Godly people. My family more than anything left because we were tired of the controversy. Some of the best people I know are leaders at Quail and I am praying they get a new pastor soon and remain on a steady course to being a strong loving cohesive congregation again.


  11. Hi Lorena G.
    Thanks for commenting.
    You sound like a reasonable person. You have to see that Mark and the Elders brought this controversy into the church. I would leave too. They justify the addition of instruments to worship which cannot be Biblically justified. And doing so proved to be divisive. The church of the first century and the church of the 21st century should worship by singing, just as God commanded. Adding the noisy instruments wrong.

    Also, the Preacher is not typically a “Pastor”. The Elders are are the “Pastors” according to Scripture. So you may have a little bit of confusion over what to call the Preacher. The denominations have created this division as well.

    Again, thanks for commenting.


  12. God have mercy on your pharisaical soul.


  13. Dear Anonymous, is not your name calling hypocritical. I read the Bible and I know what Pharisees were guilty of. They added to God's word. They took away from God's word. They added their traditions. Now if I teach that unity in worship requires that we “sing” and only “sing”, without accompaniment, how is that adding? It's not. But if someone asks you if they may play their guitar in the worship and you approve, it is you who are the adder and the Pharisee. So testify.


  14. where in all of God's Story, does God condemn His Worship being accompanied by any instrument?

    Just one Scripture please.

    And then give me one sin, just one sin, that God does not identify in His Story that if I unrepentantly continue to live in this sin I put my eternal life in jeopardy.

    Just one sin please.


  15. I will give you one, but it won't satisfy you.

    “Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.” – Psalm 19:13

    It is presumptuous for you or any church leadership to authorize worship that New Testament Christians did not practice. They followed the Word of God and did not add or take from it. The sang only.

    The Scriptures say not to “exceed what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6). To forbid an addition to God's Word is not “exceeding”, but to tell the piano and guitar player they may join in the worship is. It is presumptuous for you to exceed what is written about “truth and spirit” worship.


  16. I'm chris. I was there that day as well but have never been a member there. So I am both an outsider and an insider. The other previous members are accurate. 300 people did not leave the church that day. The article did not say they left during the church service. It just sais they left.

    I also personnally know many wonderful people who attend and no longer attend the church. From what I have learned from the people I have spoke with, the postings from other previous members seems to be completely accurate.

    I have attended CofC almost all my life, and you sound like a long time member of the church.


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