Before I write what I’ve been thinking about (yes there is a point to this post), let me lay down a few thoughts about Christian music discussions:
1) Anytime somebody brings up music, Christians will disagree — and not just disagree, but disagree with passion. Music is often very personal — criticizing someone’s music is like mocking a boyfriend or girlfriend — logic and reason take the back seat while raging emotions ride shot-gun.
2) Anytime somebody brings up music, labels start flying like, um flies or pigs or something. If I were to criticize a certain type of worship music, some would want to break out a roll of duct tape and stick a Dave is a legalist sign on my back (while I wasn’t looking of course). On the other hand entirely, if I were to condone the usage of certain songs in public worship, some would try to mark my forehead with 666 or even worse, a Dave is a liberal branding.
3) Music is an integral part of church life.
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
If we are to be teaching one another with music — if we should be admonishing each other with music — if our music should be Word based — if the Lord is our primary audience | then it is time that the church takes her worship services very seriously.
Before I make my three suggestions to any worship service, allow me to preface. I like conservative music; I like hymns. However, if we fail to advance in how we do church — never re-evaluating or trying to improve — worship services have no hope for significance in the minds of our people.
Now for my suggestions.
1). If church music is, at least in part, about teaching one another, then we should sing songs with strong biblical lyrics.
Many hymns have very strong lyrical content. However, many are riddled with obscure biblical references to which the average church member is completely ignorant. In such cases, those particular songs should be eliminated from the service or time should be spent explaining the lyrics. Pause a song sometime — read a verse of Scripture upon which the song was based and tell the congregation to think about it — then keep singing.
I am almost screaming this through the screen: I long for significance in church worship services! This can only happen when God’s people know what they are singing and subsequently know God in a deeper, fuller and more passionate way.
Too often, even in good churches, whoever is in charge of music selects songs for musical reasons only. It’s in the right key. It’s a good opening tempo. I like the melody. Not altogether bad reasons; the goal should be larger, however — teaching!
2). Without getting into the differences between psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (because I have heard the distinction between these words abused and beat into the ground — I mean seriously, a dead horse can only take so many beatings after the time of its death before it starts to stink really badly), I think it should be understood that church music should overflow with variety.
For some churches, this means more than rotating 30 hymns from week to week or more than simply singing hymns.
For other churches, this means more than singing choruses — your people need to hear some of the great hymns of the faith.
For other-other churches, this means that your music needs to actually be spiritual.
3). As we worship, we must remember that our ultimate audience is the Lord. We are to sing a variety of styles —- all of them to the Lord.
After all, music is only about us — what we like. Since the Lord is our audience, there are some styles of worship that should be abandoned completely. Music/Worship is not primarily about what we like. It’s about pleasing God — after all, He hears it all.
Let me end by saying this: even if the worship service at your church seems insignificant, make sure that while you sing, that you allow your mind to concentrate on the lyrics and that your heart explodes with love and adoration for the risen Christ.
Sing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Try to see it all clearly_