One topic that often stirs up emotional reactions and greatly varied opinions concerns music in churches. Do I even want to go there? Well, I thought I would give it a try.
God’s Word states,
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! (Psalm 95:1)
Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart. (Ephesians 5:19)
Now, the rub comes because people’s views of music can be quite subjective, and there’s many different styles of music. The Bible doesn’t tell us we shouldn’t use a piano, guitar, banjo, drums, etc., but we’re told to sing praises to God. And it’s great to praise God with music.
I’ve spoken hundreds of times—in every US state and in countries around the world. And I’ve observed that in our present day a lot of churches have moved to having a praise team at the front to lead music.
That’s fine, but here’s the concern I have: it seems to me that some of these groups have become very performance oriented with flashy productions like a concert. There is a place for such productions, but personally I don’t think that should be the emphasis in a church service, where believers are gathered for their edification from God’s Word and through worship. You see, I often notice that when songs are really geared to performance, not as many in the congregation sing. I just worry that, for some of these groups, the focus is more on them and their production than on enabling everyone to worship God with music.
My philosophy of music is to use the best of the old and the best of the new.
I love music. I play piano, and I’m on the roster to play in the church we attend. My wife and I played piano and organ together in the church we attended in our younger days. We have resident artists (TrueSong) who give regular concerts at the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. We work with Ray Flynn from Abraham Productions to feature the largest Christian music festival in the world each year at the Ark, called “40/40”—40 Days and 40 Nights of Christian Music. And for the 40/40 program, we provide a variety of music styles.
My philosophy of music is to use the best of the old and the best of the new. But many times, it seems churches have thrown out all the old. And sometimes they seem to use the worst of the new! My opinion is that there should be balance. We live in a culture that seems to want to throw out all of the old (the history, etc.). Even many churches want to throw out the Old Testament and go only with the New. But the New Testament is founded in the Old Testament and ultimately in Genesis 1–11.
I personally don’t like churches that have a “traditional” service, primarily for the older generations, and a “contemporary” service for the younger generations. To me that seems to create division and separate generations. I think the older generations need to be prepared to use some of the new songs, and the younger generations should be taught and should respect some of the old—like the great old hymns. Should there not be a balance? But as one person said to me, “My definition of balance is when you agree with me.”
But whether it’s the old hymns or modern songs, we should always carefully look at the words and check the theology. I do find a number of modern songs have atrocious theology and are often man-centered rather than God-centered. But some of the old hymns also have wrong theology and other problems too! So we need to be discerning in everything!
Whether it’s the old hymns or modern songs, we should always carefully look at the words and check the theology.
I’ve also seen in some churches a trend where the praise team becomes the focus of the whole service, and the teaching of the Word is relegated to just a small portion of the service, and often even that short time features very watered-down teaching. I don't mind if a church wants to have an hour or more of worship in song, but I want equal time for the teaching of the Word!
I think some churches believe the music is what will attract and hold people. But I find that people want to be equipped and spiritually fed with relevant Bible teaching. They need to be taught to think foundationally and equipped with apologetics. (There’s so much biblical illiteracy and compromise in our churches, and it’s hurting them!)
Let’s make our churches a place where all the saints can eagerly join together in praise to the Lord and where they are fed richly from his Word.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.