MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

Music: Its Effect on the Church

August 11th, 2006 Visited 10083 times, 1 so far today

Piano KeysPerhaps the title to this post should be: Culture: Its Effect on the Church. If one was to question which was more influential–the culture on Christians, or Christianity on the culture, arguably, we’d have to admit that the church has bent over backwards to accommodate today’s values. Who’s salting who?

We’re dressing down, inviting Christian rock into our services, raising our tolerance toward sin, and calling it progressive. Is it?

You don’t have to sacrifice anything to “become a Christian” these days. Really, what do Christian Americans give up in order to take up the cross and follow Him?

Take music for instance. One argument for Christian rock is that it attracts the youth to Christ. They merely exchange one set of lyrics for another and everyone’s happy. But is happiness the ultimate goal, the filler for the hole in everyone’s heart? Was Jesus’ gruesome death on the cross done for the purpose of our happiness, or for our righteousness? Happiness in Christ does follow, but if that’s your motivation for becoming a Christian, it’s the wrong motivation.

Music is powerful. How do lyrics with a carnal beat nourish a young believer’s renewed spirit? I know from experience that music’s pull creates a tug of war within, one that stirs up and appeals to my old sin nature. I love music. I hear one song, and it creates a longing in me to hear an old high school favorite. And that favorite certainly isn’t edifying my growth as a Christian!

Music appeals to our flesh more than our spirit. Is this wrong? Well, I think it is if our fleshly response steals the meaning from our spiritual response.

Along this same line, have you noticed how important music has become in church services? To the point that “church shoppers” put more emphasis on the impressiveness of the music service than the actual teaching from scriptures? Again, that appeal to our flesh is strong.

Does the beat make you want to tap your toes (innocent reaction) or is your response more sensual? Contrast the focus you are giving to the music itself, to the joyful reaction you are having to the Savior who inspired the words.

Is it all about us, or all about Him?

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  • Chris Naron says on: August 11, 2006 at 4:40 pm

     

    I’m afraid you’re into the realm of personal preferences here. I don’t think one person’s preference for music is more spiritual than anothers. Musical notes and beats are largely neutral. Some rhythyms are less conducive to worship, but then again, that may just be my preferences talking. For instance, I would find it difficult to worship to rap or country. By the same token, I could not stand the Germanic hymns we had at the Church of God at which I pastored the youth.

    I would avoid accusations of worldiness just because a church deviates from the standard piano and organ music some of us are used to.

    But I will agree that it’s very shallow to choose a place of worship based solely on the the music. If the teaching isn’t sound, the music matters very little.

  • MInTheGap says on: August 11, 2006 at 9:12 pm

     

    I would have to agrue more with Mary on this point. IF you can go so far as to say that music is neutral, then you have to deal with association. Since we are to separate from things that are linked to this world, having the world’s sound should be something we flee from.

    I do not know that music is neutral, though. We know that David used soothing sounds to soothe the deamon that was attacking Saul. We know that doctor’s offices and elevators use music to calm the soul. We also know that those that create rock music do so with an intent to appeal to the sensual side of man. If they believe that that’s what they are doing, should we really question them?

    I understand that different cultures have different standards– but that’s all the more reason to understand your culture and not be aligned with those that stand for lust and against Christ.

  • Chris Naron says on: August 11, 2006 at 11:52 pm

     

    The problem is many of our hymns are old drinking songs. The organ was once used to accompany orgies. Bach’s music was considered too worldly for the church at one point. There’s a great deal of personal preference that colors our view on this.

    No, music is not emotionally neutral, but it is value neutral.

  • MInTheGap says on: August 12, 2006 at 7:52 am

     

    Could you list for me the “many of our hymns” that are drinking songs? I find that this is one of the statements that is always trotted out, but I have yet to see a listing. In fact, if you do a little research you see a lot of the hymns with original music or classical music in the background.

    I’d hardly consider Bach and his organ pieces to orgies– but then again, an instrument can be used by anyone for anything and I was not speaking about instruments, but about the music in general.

    I agree that there are personal preferences– to a point. But– as the topic of this post is about it in church– why should we use our Christian liberty to offend a brother? Why can’t we worship with music styles that all can agree glorify God instead of forcing new music that some people cannot worship with?

  • Chris Naron says on: August 12, 2006 at 11:12 am

     

    I didn’t say that Bach’s pieces were orgy music. I said his music was considered worldly by Church leaders. The organ itself was used in orgies before it was used in churches.

    The music to the Star Spangled Banner was a drinking song. I forget the others, so I’ll concede that “many” is a weak qualifier on my part.

    Why can’t we worship with music styles that all can agree glorify God instead of forcing new music that some people cannot worship with?

    That’s the problem–we can’t all agree. You saying we can or should agree on certain hymns is no more righteous than me saying we should all agree on praise songs.

    And what does this have to do with using our liberty to offend? You state that as if we’re doing it on purpose.

  • Chris Naron says on: August 12, 2006 at 11:17 am

     

    From Wikipedia

    Martin Luther composed a number of hymns in the 16th century, reportedly borrowing some of their melodies from popular tavern drinking songs of that period.

    The most recent common form of Christian music is Contemporary Christian music, or CCM. This draws most of its influence from secular music of the late 20th century and is the most popular kind of Christian music in the Western world.

    I quoted that last part to show that the most likely form we’re all going to agree on is probably contemporary Christian music because of its popularity. But I wouldn’t use something’s popularity as a reason. So, we’re back to preference.

  • MInTheGap says on: August 12, 2006 at 12:55 pm

     

    First, I would find it difficult to say that the Star Spangled Banner is a “hymn” we sing on a regular basis for worship. Along with that, even though Martin Luther composed hymns and “reportedly” borrowed melodies from the tavern, I challenge you to find any of those tunes still in use in our hymnals. A majority of what populates hymnals today is original music composed during the last century or so with the Sanky, Bliss and the other revival period musicians.

    Second, I acknowledge that some people use CCM to worship God ignorant of the effect. But! Because we’re even having this discussion and the number of people that believe they have been saved from rock music say that Christians should proceed with caution in using music in worship that people have left because they believe that it was wrong and lustful.

    I disagree that CCM is the music that a majority of Christians would agree, since an entire denominations of churches refuse to have that music in their services, but almost all churches have hymns of the faith sung (even if it’s not very frequent in a service) and I have yet to have someone come up to me and say that the hymns we sing are offensive.

    I have had people say that there was bad theology in a few, and we choose not to sing that one. But the main complaint I get from people with hymns is that “I don’t like that music.” And that’s not a problem with the music– it’s a problem with the person.

  • Chris Naron says on: August 12, 2006 at 11:02 pm

     

    I just can’t see any Biblical reason to choose one person’s definition of “spiritual” music over another’s. There are no guidelines, and I would caution you by the same token not to allow your preferences to diminish the beautiful conversions I’ve seen at churches that have contemporary music and at Christian rock shows I have been a part of myself.

    It’s amazing how I can’t go a single year without having this debate. 🙂

  • MInTheGap says on: August 13, 2006 at 7:50 am

     

    And I would caution you into falling for the trap of an “end justifies the means” mentality. 🙂 Just because people have come to Christ because a church has CCM or Christian Rock shows does not mean that that’s God’s approved method for getting the Gospel out. And I’m not saying it’s a sin on the level of this, but if we took out ads in porn mags, or opened our own brothel in Las Vegas for the purpose of evanglising people that visited these places and people professed Christ, would that be acceptable?

    The problem with looking at music as an evangelistic tool is that’s not the point of worship music. The point of the music we sing to God is to please Him. Music that pleases us might not necessarily please God. I often wonder on the passages that say to sing Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs and whether our music should be more limited to what’s given for us– though I don’t go that far.

    There’s a set of questions that have to be asked for any music that is to be used in church:

    1. Does it have as its point the glorification of God or does it just appeal to me/the flesh?
    2. Does the music offend a weaker brother or encourage them to fall into some kind of sin?
    3. Does the music draw attention to God or draw attention to the performers or to us?

    I do not think that CCM and “Christian Rock” can be said to pass all of these tests in a Church setting.

  • Mary says on: August 13, 2006 at 3:45 pm

     

    Wow, gone for a day and look what I miss out on! A great discussion…It’s a testimony to the power and influence of music. Here are my thoughts, hope they make sense.

    I admit to a history of struggling when it comes to claiming a stance on CCM and Christian rock, having enjoyed both. Our church music service is a blend of mostly CCM with a couple hymns at the beginning and one at the end. It’s not out of the ordinary for our worship team to play guitar along with the keyboard or piano, and recently, one of the worship teams added their drum machine to the background (very subtly)…and I liked it. But that’s a response I’m struggling with and it spawned my post here about music. I want to know what God thinks and says about it in a church setting. In my life.

    Here’s a couple of verses, Eph. 5:19, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” And Col. 3:16, “Teaching and admonishing in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

    Is any form of music acceptable, as long as the words glorify God and our hearts are pure? That is the biggie. I don’t think so. I’ve actually heard unsaved teens talking about how there’s no difference between Christians and non-Christians. They disrespect any and all inconsistencies. I think churched teens are more likely to embrace the Christian rock in hopes that it will entice their non-Christian friends to church.

    If our church suddenly went to hymns only, I’d sincerely miss the CCM. And I wouldn’t want to have to choose between the two. (That said, I’ve been in churches where the CCM resembles more of a boyfriend/girlfriend love song than a praise song to the Lord, and I recoil from that with all my heart). Also, I think it’s sad that the great debate between “hymns only” (usually the older set) and the CCM crowd has resulted in MANY churches having two separate services on Sunday morning to accommodate the preferences of both groups! Is this a way Satan is using music to divide God’s people? Then let’s go back to hymns only! (Easy to say)

    I also fail to appreciate Christian book stores whose music section is full of posters of Christian rock groups with sneers, males with earrings, and other secularly appearing similarities to rock groups. Kutlass for instance. What would be the Biblical culture’s equivalent, “Come get drunk on wine during communion?” Maybe worshipping God ritualistically, Roman-style?

    And what about the new trend for alternate music that’s neutral? Switchfoot, Reliant K…at first thought it seems admirable…one step in the right direction, but is it just going to become a genre of American “good” apart from God?

    Music is a topic so fascinating to me…personally, my taste in music runs to Casting Crowns and Ray Boltz. At church though, I’m easily distracted from worship. I may love “What If His People Prayed” while I’m cleaning house, but “The Love of God” is far more worshipful at church. It appeals to my soul…

    In my opinion! And yes, we all have one. But what are the spiritual positives of secular music? Besides reaching the lost?

    Could we with ink the ocean fill,
    And were the skies of parchment made,
    Were every stalk on earth a quill,
    And every man a scribe by trade,
    To write the love of God above,
    Would drain the ocean dry.
    Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
    Though stretched from sky to sky.
    (refrain from hymn “The Love of God”)

  • Chris Naron says on: August 13, 2006 at 6:31 pm

     

    1. Does it have as its point the glorification of God or does it just appeal to me/the flesh?
    2. Does the music offend a weaker brother or encourage them to fall into some kind of sin?
    3. Does the music draw attention to God or draw attention to the performers or to us?

    As a member of a Christian rock band for ten years, I’ll answer thusly:

    1. We tried our very best to keep God out front and ourselves behind. However, we saw many instances where poor musicianship was excused by saying that playing well was selfish and showing off. I don’t think so. Whatever is worth doing for the Lord is worth doing well. But I can’t tell you how many times I heard comments about how proficient musicians were just showing off.

    2. We can say that about a great number of things. I’ve known many poor brothers and sisters who were offended by a pator’s car or someone’s clothes. What if a brother or sister is offended because you eat meat?

    3. Similar to point #1, this is a matter of great contention within many praise teams. My brother and best friend serve on our praise team, and this comes up all the time. Again, one must be careful to ascribe motives to someone where they don’t know what they’re taling about. Is it more spiritual to play sloppy or overly simple? Is it more spiritual to express your worship of God by playing a beautiful piano piece than to do the same with an electric guitar?

    Again, I will stress that there are no clear guidelines about instrumentation, beat or rhythymn. The passages in Ephesians and Colossians do not make it clear what kind of music is “spiritual”.

  • MInTheGap says on: August 13, 2006 at 8:53 pm

     

    I don’t know if you intentionally used meat in your response to #2, but that’s the Biblical question in Romans 14. Paul actually said that meat offered to idols was not, in and of itself, sinful. But the fact that certain believers thought that the idol was something (even though it was nothing) made it though that if a brother was offended by the meat– if Paul’s eating of meat caused a brother to stumble– then Paul would not eat meat for the rest of his life.

    The point here in regards to music and the church is that you might feel that it’s ok for you to listen to some music in your house or car and do so to the glory of God. However, some people were “saved out of rock music.” To them, rock music– the beat, the instrumentation, etc.– appeal to their flesh and draw focus to the flesh. For these people, they would like to use this music because of the feeling, but they feel it sinful. In this case, those stronger believers should refrain from this music since the weaker brother cannot participate without sinning.

    The important part of this passage is that Paul states quite clearly that if you cannot do something to the glory of God– to them it is sin. As a body of believers, it is the church’s responsibility to try to keep people out of sin. I guess you could always encourage those Christians to go to a different church– but is that Christian?

  • Chris Naron says on: August 14, 2006 at 12:49 am

     

    Paul’s point is well taken, but it’s kind of like when Jesus told us to pluck out our eyes rather than have them offend us. If you happen to catch a lovely lady out of the corner of your eye and have an unclean thought, are you really going to pluck out your eye? If a brother comes to you and says that the fact that you eat meat is causing him to sin, are you going to stop eating meat? Paul’s example had to do with meat sacrificed to idols. Where’s the parallel with music? I understand not listening to the bands you listened to when in the world. But musical notes are not the culprits.

    Think of it this way: When many of the great hymn writers were composing our most beloved hymns, they were using contemporary styles of music. The musical notes were no more spiritual than secualr music of the time. It was the words that gave them meaning. Stephen Foster’s music was secular, yet it was no different in beat and instrumentation. Were his musical notes more spiritual than those on “Lord I Lift Your Name on High”? Would “Red River Valley” be more spiritual than “Awesome God” if we just changed the words around?

  • MInTheGap says on: August 14, 2006 at 8:54 am

     

    Paul gives two contemporary (if you will) examples of things that Christians believed was sin at the time that Paul didn’t believe was sin. One was eating meat offered to idols. The other was people that honored one day above another. Paul said that if a person were to do either of these things while he thought it was sin, it would be sin for them.

    Take a look at this parallel passage in I Corinthians 8:9-13. Paul basically says that if a person that believes it is wrong to eat meat offered idols and yet through watching a brother eat that meat he chooses to eat, then the stronger brother has lead the weaker into sin– a sin against Christ, no less! Pay attention to verse 13- “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” Paul was very clear here– his brother was more important than his ability to eat meat.

    In contemporary terms, Paul would say that (and I know that I don’t totally agree with the concept of music being neutral, but if this is true) he would not listen to that kind of music if it would cause a brother to fall into something that was a sin for him.

    I do not believe we are talking about when the music is created as much as the style that it is created in. Music that sounds like the world points people to the world.

  • Chris Naron says on: August 15, 2006 at 3:08 am

     

    So if a brother is offended when he hears Amazing Grace for whatever reason, then you would swear off hymns? I doubt it. I get the point Paul is making, but in this day and age, a brother who says he’s offended by praise music is probably pulling your leg.

  • MInTheGap says on: August 15, 2006 at 8:44 am

     

    I’m not saying swear off hymns. For example, I don’t say that we should swear off choruses just because I’m personally offended by the song “Awesome God,” but I have asked the churches that I attend/have been members of not to sing that song and they have complied.

    A better comparison from your stance would be “if people thought that Fanny Crosby was a heathen so we don’t sing All the Way My Savior Leads Me. Or from my perspective– if Christian Rock offends me, then we don’t sing things from Casting Crowns or whatever in a service.

    And I’ve been with many serious people who choose not to have “praise music” in their homes.

  • Michael says on: August 29, 2006 at 5:53 pm

     

    Chris Naron – I completely agree with you here. Oh the feeling I get inside when I worship to rock music versus a hymn. I’m engaged, I’m energetic and I’m also fully alert when the message begins. To judge a beat is religious. I don’t want to be religious. I want to follow Christ.

    Since we are to separate from things that are linked to this world, having the world’s sound should be something we flee from.

    MInTheGap – Are you fleeing from movies and television as well? Are you fleeing from all manner of literature other than the bible? Are you fleeing from your mind when you are in line too long or someone rudely cuts you off in traffic? You can’t label something and turn a blind eye on another.

    Is any form of music acceptable, as long as the words glorify God and our hearts are pure? That is the biggie. I don’t think so.

    Mary – Bold statement that. Limiting the ways you can glorify God? Who are we to say what does and doesn’t please God?

    When all is said and done, we ALL fall short of the glory of God. It is by faith and His love for us that we even have a place set aside for us in heaven. God wishes to reach every single one of his children. You cannot do that one-fold. Music is such a hot topic because it *is* one of the most powerful methods of praise and worship. You cannot limit it to hymn and *soft* music alone and expect to reach every tongue and nation.

    Are we trying to save the saved or save the unsaved?

    God works in mysterious ways. How often has God saved the Drug Addict and through the addict reached many more. The drunkard. The persecuter. The criminal. The athiest. God *will* use any means he pleases to reach a lost and dying world.

    The simple truth is right there. Jesus died for our sins. You probably sinned today and you might sin again tomorrow. He paid for it with his blood and paved the way for us to repent and be free of our sins. You guys are over-analyzing and critically examining something that doesn’t need to be.

    And this comes from someone who has known Christ a handful of years.

  • Michael says on: August 29, 2006 at 5:54 pm

     

    I found this funny – My avatar by default has piercings… 😀

  • MInTheGap says on: August 30, 2006 at 8:26 am

     

    I believe it is A.W. Tozer that wrote that no worship we give to God here on Earth will be perfect worship because, just like you said Michael, we have a fallen sinful state. That being said, we should strive to get as close as we can.

    In that, we need to evaluate why we sing and use the music that we do. If we’re using a music style because it makes us feel good, does that make it more acceptable to God? If we study out the Old Testament we see that God was very specific on how the Israelites could approach Him, and that He went to great measures to differentiate Himself from the pagan religions around them. In the matter of separation, it’s important to separate from the world’s sound so that people know where our music is pointed– worship of God.

    As for your question about television, etc., I would take it that you would expect me by your standard to swear off all music, not just “Christian rock”, since some of it I consider non-worshipful. Since this is not the case– I still use music in my worship– the correct parallel would be that I refrain from watching certain shows that do not glorify God, and will watch shows that do. Same follows for the other media you listed.

    I do not agree that God “will use any means” to reach a person for Christ. God will certainly not use sin to reach a person to Christ. I mean, a basic principle I was brought up with was that the ends do not justify the means. Certainly someone that is saved is not sinless and is an unworthy vessel, and God can use that person to get His message across, but that doesn’t mean that he condones sin as a vehicle.

    I don’t believe He wants churches offering free beer or prostitutes in order to get them to come in and here the salvation story! Certainly the musicians that originated rock music believed they were appealing to the basest of desires– the sexual one– in order to get their music across. (Then again, it would be hard to find any genre of music that did not have a love song in it!)

  • Brian (Syracuse University) says on: January 21, 2007 at 1:25 pm

     

    There have always been negative connotations associated with rock music and half the people in here think it’s evil and we should never play/listen to it. But we want to glorify God with every part of our lives, and lead others to Christ, right? Why then is it so wrong to take something negative and turn it into a way to praise God? I’m not trying to say we should change Black Sabbath lyrics and sing them about God in church, but rock music is popular and so widely recognized, you can take something that attracts many people, including non-believers, and use it as a way to tell them about Christ. This article implies that music which engages the congregation can not be used for worship, and why, because it’s upbeat and not boring? I understand that a flashy praise team can take away from worshipping, I’ve seen it happen. But that doen’t mean the entire style of music should be ruled out of church. Go to an 8:00am traditional organ-hymmed service and look for teenagers that are there because they want to be and not because their parents bring them. Find a church with upbeat music similar to what this article attacked and you’ll probably find a flourishing youth program. Unless you’ve been brought up in a church your whole life, you will probably not like traditional organ hyms. Good music has the power to move people, and catchy tunes make it easy to carry the song’s message around with you. I recognize the fine line between using good, well played music to attract people to church and just being flashy; but step outside your personal preferences and realize just because you don’t like loud guitars and drumsets that doesn’t mean they are not praising God.

  • ann_in_grace says on: January 21, 2007 at 4:16 pm

     

    Brian, I do not think we can take something negative and turn it into a way to praise God. We cannot make an analogy of God turning sinners into saints. That is God, and He is able. We are not.
    And why should we do such a thing? As if we were depraved of creativity and capabiblity of making new music, instead of using “God is my girlfriend”-type of songs?
    I wiuld like to point you in the direction of a document written by Steve Camp, a person i respect deeply and consider my inspiration on many levels.
    107 thesis is exactly about what You are talking, describing the pitfalls and offering a solution. Please, read it, and If You are familiar with Steve’s music, you will understand that I am not proposing the old-fashioned hymns, but rather, biblically sound and solid new music.

  • ann_in_grace says on: January 21, 2007 at 4:17 pm

     

    Sorry, the adress is here: http://tinyurl.com/7fzcq

  • Stephen Kingston says on: January 22, 2007 at 5:22 am

     

    Brian, you make a good point about looking for teenagers in a traditional organ-led church. However, there is another issue. Many teenagers just don’t sing! I took a friend along to a church which had incredibly long periods of modern worship, and his response: “I liked the sermon, but I couldn’t hack all that singing”. And he never came again.

    Willow Creek Community Church talk about creating a church for the unchurched. The idea is that we need to reach people where they are at, in the culture they are in – we should not be imposing our culture on them.

    To some extent, modern praise-worship is just another Christian culture that we are so familiar with, that we do not even realise how alien it is to the unchurched (be they teenagers or middle aged).

    In our evangelism, are we becoming all things to all men? Or are we asking all men to become like us?

  • Mary says on: January 22, 2007 at 9:56 am

     

    Did Jesus become all things to all men? Did he compromise in any way? Sure he went where the sinners were, but he went to heal (physically and spiritually). I’m not discounting your comments, believe me. Christian music is a great divide but I can see both sides. Honest!

    I agree that we need to love people where they’re at, many times we don’t need to and shouldn’t push our convictions about things like music on them but let the Spirit of God do the convicting. May He convict me if I’m wrong or being narrow-minded.

    As a woman, thankfully, it’s not upon me to make a stink about whether or not our church goes one way or the other, or blurs the line. I can pray, teach my children and follow my convictions. Men, imho, have greater responsibility as far as church decisions and the like. And as a a result of men taking a back seat in today’s culture (partly thanks to feminism) I think many decisions regarding music have been made as a response to the younger generation of each decade.

    So we the church follow the trends of the world. Some see it as a good thing, some don’t.

  • Stephen Kingston says on: January 22, 2007 at 11:54 am

     

    Hi Mary,

    It was Paul who said he became a slave to win as many as possible, and he bacame a Jew to the Jews, one under law to win those under law, and as one not having the law that he may win those not under law. He became weak to the weak, and said “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

    1 Corinthians 9:19-23

    And in the manner of Paul (who asked us to be a follower of him, just as he was a follower of Christ), I suggest that our evangelism and outreach really does need to become all things to all men. And if that means that we don’t sing at all in our outreach, then sobeit. If that means that we use multimedia presentations, drama, or some other contemporary method to preach the gospel, then let us do so to the best of our ability, that in doing so we may save some.

    There is a caveat though: Too often we confuse evangelism with worship. Perhaps we do this so we don’t notice we are not doing the evangelism! But anything I have written here applies to how we carry out evangelism – be that in the Church building or outside of it. It says nothing about how we choose to worship God as Christian community.

  • MInTheGap says on: January 22, 2007 at 11:58 am

     

    While I understand where you are coming from, Brian, the point with music is that it is not neutral– it has a connection, be it the words or the song. You allude to the problem yourself:

    I’m not trying to say we should change Black Sabbath lyrics and sing them about God in church

    Why not? I think that the reason is obvious, because even the sound is linked to the band, not just the words.

    You cannot separate the style and sound from the message, nor can you have conflicting messages. If, as the rock musicians say, rock music appeals to the sensual side of a person, then is it the right music to be worshipping God?

    Let me take it a step further… What is the purpose of music in the church? Is the purpose to “sing things I like” or “to get people to come” (i.e. for entertainment) or is it “to extol praise on an eternal being.” If it’s either of the first two, then go ahead and sing “what people like” and what appeals to them regardless of where it comes from. If it’s the later, then you have to start to think about how music that focuses on God has to be separate, set apart. You have to start thinking about what He wants more than what I want. You have to cease to think of music as a source of entertainment, and start to think of it as a way to praise Him.

    Now, I say all that but with this caveat. Associations change over time. Things that may be wrong to sing now can be fine to sing 20 years from now because of association.

    And I also say that music in the church is a whole different animal. Music at your house is between you and God. Music in a church is between you, God and that guy Billy over there that believes that God freed him from a life of sin: which to him includes drugs, alcohol and rock music. If you sing that rock song with different lyrics or sing it with that beat, you’re going to wound that weak brother or send him to another church just because you decided that your preference was more important than singing songs which everyone can agree give worship to God.

    And lastly, statistics have shown that when people want to come to church– are truly seeking Christ– they tend to look for something different rather than something that is the same. Christianity is marked by being different– because we are different beings. If we look the same, dress the same, and sound the same as the world, what do we really have to offer them?

  • Brian (Syracuse University) says on: January 23, 2007 at 4:01 am

     

    That’s a lot of stuff to chew on, hmm. When writing my first comment I mixed a lot of my own thoughts and did not draw a line between music in church and christian music outside of church. I grouped them together in poor judgement. I have been in a few rock bands (ska, punk and hardcore) all with christian members and we used that to spread God’s word through our local scene. I jumped into talking about church praise music without ever specifying that in my head I was then thinking of the christian contemporary rock praise team. My comment was written too vaguely and just not good, I think that’s why it got so many different replies. I thought about this more and I’m starting to understand how even the instrumentation and style of a song may bring up ideas the church stays away from.
    Ann_in_Grace – you seem to have implied I made my points because we ran out of musical ideas and think it’s cool to borrow popular music, and that’s not what I meant at all. I was alluding to the fact that associations change over time and for some reason made a very far fetched leap that certain styles may be later associated with christian ideas instead of their original secular association. Like I said, after thinking more I don’t necessarily like a lot of what I wrote.
    I’m not sure where I stand right now about how much a church should try to appeal to its surroundings. On one hand you want people who don’t know Him to feel at home and not emersed in something so foreign to them that they feel awkward. But at the same time like MinTheGap said people look for Christ because they want something different in their lives. I have an entirely new respect for church leaders now that I’ve seen a small glimpse at what they face when trying to move their church programs in the right direction towards the Lord.

  • Stephen Kingston says on: January 23, 2007 at 4:22 am

     

    Brian, Thanks for this considered reply.

    On your last point, I too agree with MinTheGap that people want something different from Christianity – but that something different must also be something of substance. There are a lot of things in our churches that are just cultural (robed choirs, 17th century sea shanties with Christian lyrics, sung psalms, etc…)

    But the difference in Christianity is Christ, and the difference in Christians should be the love of God, which is expressed in a true peace and joy, as well as a desire to share this joy with others.

    John Piper’s book: “desiring God” speaks of conversion as the creation of a Christian hedonist. The term, of course, is meant to shock. He does not mean Christians should be hedonists as we normally understand the term, but rather that the Christian life is characterised by the love, glory and *enjoyment* of God.

    When people see this they know there is something different. When people see sham Christianity, with people pretending to joy, whilst having none of it they turn away. When people see miserable Christianity, they want none of it.

    Thus, to me, music in Church is something of a side issue. If we seek to create an atmosphere of celebration through popular music in Church, then we risk attempting to generate an atmosphere that is not mirrored in the lives of those present. This is sham Christianity and should be avoided. And I think there is a lot of it about.

    But that does not mean we cannot have popular music. What I describe is no worse than a dour congregation miserably chanting their way through the aptly named Te Deum. Maybe the miserable crowd are a little more honest, but no more attractive.

    But when Christianity is fully Christ centred, and marked by that peace of Christ and joy in him, and delight at all he has done for us – then I don’t really think it matters what style we sing – but we sing because we love Him.

  • Kevin says on: April 1, 2007 at 2:33 pm

     

    I was doing a search on google about music and look what I find 🙂

    Anyways I too get sick of this backwards view on music, but I’m at the point where I see the church is wrong on it’s stance on music in all facets.

    First CCM – CCM is a joke now, and completly going away from what it started as. What most people don’t know is that most of the labels were swallowed by the big secular labels to start making money off of what they were doing. CCM now is a business made to appeal to those it wants to reach to sell records. That means if Praise and Worship is in the fad then these labels will order their “stars” to fit music to the masses to sell a quota.

    And believe me I’m not lumping them all in this category but when everyone who used to put true worship songs on their albums, start making full Worship albums you got to wonder. For example Michael W Smith’s “Great is the Lord” came out on one of his first solo albums. So why did he find it appropriate to write songs like that back then, not make a album around the concept and now all of a sudden has to have a worship album?

    Again it’s not everyone, but you can tell business and money has taken over.

    And this is what Steve Camp was talking about. He saw the demise of what started as something good. Oh and for those that codemn rock music – Guess what group he sang for early on in his career? That’s right – Whiteheart. A rock group. Same for Bob Carlisle (Butterfly Kisses) – sang with Allies early on, another rock group.
    =================
    Now as for the Church – I recently left my church, I went to my entire life, because I was tired of the inner politics. I was involved in woship and led a service myself. I have been searching for a new church but the one thing I keep find is the same fake music everywhere. I see men and women with great passion who are being led by leaders who don’t even understand what music truly means.

    Let’s throw out style, style is irrelevant. God doesn’t care about style, he cares about heart and your motives. If I sit here and sing a little tune I make up about God and how much I love him, it’s worship. If I pick up a guitar and turn the distortion all the way and sing how much I can’t stand the world and it’s trouble and I want God’s help, it’s worship. And if I pick up a accoustic guitar and tell God I’m struggling because my son died it’s worship. Style means nothing.

    I would say the hurdle for rock with older people is the distortion. Most older people were raised with music that was based on melody. Distortion is dissonance which is not pleasant to most people’s ears. But does that mean because rock is not pleasant to your ears we should throw it away? How about we do some digging through some history books and look at the history of music as a whole. Every form of music has had it’s good and bad points. I should know I studied music in college.

    Let’s go into church music in particular – At one time melody was wrong in the eyes of God according to the church. Look at Gregorian Chant and how long it took for melody to be introduced. Looking over the history of music in church all new styles have been condemned and thrown out at first. And yes Wesley and those traditional hymns we sing today were considered wrong and by most accounts came from bar tunes.

    I went to a seminar on church music, where the speaker read letters to us about complaints to the church about music. They read similar to what I read here today. Guess when they written? In the 1800s!

    So throwing out style, then what is the problem? To me the real problem is we have church praise teams going through motions. We have organists doing the same thing over and over again every Sunday. I found through a lot of hard times that God doesn’t want us to sit still and stagnate and the problem I see, with both new and old music is exactly that. We have churches using the same old same old to not offend and then we have the new music done by people thinking it will win souls. And in the end it all stagnates and loses meaning.

    What I see missing from music today is true passion. I don’t honestly believed Wesley intended these songs to be forever sung and nothing done new? Does it make sense? Then if this were true then the writers of these now traditional hymns were wrong to write them because they were taking away from older traditions.

    I feel if you are called to do something then you should do the best job you can. If you are called to be a musician and lead worship, then do the best job you can. Whether that means writing new material in any style or singing a Gregorian chant. You have to also take into account who you are trying to reach. Sorry to those that think it but trying to get someone to like something that doesn’t sound pleasant to their ears is impossible. Much like trying to get the writer of this article to like rock in church and as trying to get a youth to enjoy a traditional hymn. There are exceptions to the rule but on average it’s not going to happen.
    ====================
    I think Tourniquet said it best –

    Besprinkled In Scarlet Horror lyrics

    Words verbose, gory to what end do they serve?
    Or images vivid scarlet horrors absurd
    Of shrieking sounds that evoke the legions of hell
    The notes that you choose and the beats that you sell

    You’re not giving all the glory to Him
    Because your artwork depicts a severed limb
    And all the people buy into your deceit
    Because you’re keeping way too frantic a beat
    They said to Bach three hundred years ago
    “You work in the church there’s something you should know”

    “We hired you to write music that glorifies
    But these toccatas and fugues just simply horrify”
    He said, “they’re simply notes put together in bars
    And why you think that’s wrong I just throw up my arms”

    Eviscerate words that evoke emetic thoughts
    Dissect and discard what speaks of corpses in rot
    The leprous stumps of the sick and the lame
    The stoning of Stephen, Job’s scab covered frame
    And John the Baptist – a head on a pletter
    Remove this gorefest – why should it matter?

    You say this pace beckons evil spirits
    But I care not what you call it
    To me it’s two hundred beats per minute
    On tablature I scrawled it

    If you arrived at the site
    Of Calvary’s scarlet fright
    Would fears have made your feet take flight
    And turn away from our Lord’s plight

  • Maya West says on: November 13, 2011 at 9:08 am

     

    all I know is that I’m a young child who didn’t really want to read all this
    it was my homework sssh don’t tell my teacher I haven’t read it all LOL
    ASll I know ois that when I sing or hear others singing it makes me happy and I reckon that’s why peoole do it in church
    xxx

    • MInTheGap says on: November 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm

       

      Seriously, someone assigned reading this post as homework?

MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

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