Many believers struggle with knowing what is appropriate as far as music used in worship. Unfortunately, many Pastors seldom preach about worship and may have done little study of the subject. Other Pastors or Evangelists may have very limited preferences for what they feel is appropriate and preach these preferences as gospel. God's people are often left confused or very opinionated about what is appropriate based upon their own preferences or upon what they have heard. In over 30 years of Worship ministry, I've seen this confusion manifested in many ways. Earlier this month, a brother in Christ left a comment on our worship blog's "About our blog" page, and we answered. What else could we have shared with this brother? We can go back and edit our comment for this blog visitor and for others who will see this dialogue in the future if there is something we need to add. Here's the comment and our reply:
"Hi Travis, looking at the New Testament scriptures about worship and music, I see a number of scriptures about SINGING, but virtually no scriptures that that support contemporary Christian Music, such as the music of Hilllsong, Don Moen, Paul Baloche etc etc. What are your views on this?
By: J. K. on February 12, 2013 at 4:57 am
We have edited your name and are using only initials in this reply and in your approved comment. Your honest question deserves a thoughtful answer, and we will do our best to reply with the highest respect for your careful study of God’s word and with prayerful consideration of your comment.
We are told in the New Testament to speak to one another in Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. We believe that most of the contemporary Chrisitan music to which you refer falls into the category of ‘spiritual songs,’ although many of today’s Christian artists (musical messengers) are also writing powerful modern hymns (one example of this is the work of Keith and Kristyn Getty). There are many verses in the Bible (including one in Revelation) that speak of singing a new song. We believe that God continues to give musical abilities to people who then use those gifts to bring glory to the Lord through the writing of new songs and hymns.
Remember that the older hymns of the church were once contemporary. They were once new songs. We certainly are not singing the same music that Paul and Silas sang in jail (although we may be singing some of the same words -translated into English- since many songs lyrics are based on the words of the Psalms). We are no longer singing Hebrew or Gregorian chants in worship, so at some point “new” or “contemporary” music was accepted as music that was appropriate for worship and brought honor and glory to God and to Jesus, our Savior. We believe that there are certainly many styles of Christian music, but the message of the lyrics and the heart of the songwriter or singer are far more important than the date when a song was born or the style in which it is written. We still love and sing the old hymns and gospel songs, but we also love most of the new music that we hear.
We believe that if the message of a song can be clearly understood and if it brings glory to God, then there is a place of apporpriateness within the lives of God’s people for that song to speak to hearts. Some songs are used in congregational worship, and some are not. Some may be recorded on a CD but not really be appropriate for corporate worship. For example, we can think of several songs on Christian CDs which have the subject matter of being thankful that God brought the writer’s spouse into their life. A song like that may be played on Christian radio and bless a lot of lives, or it may be played in peoples’ homes. However, unless the song is sung at a wedding or at a marriage retreat, such songs are generally not sung during congregational worship. There is nothing wrong with being thankful for your spouse and speaking of that blessing in an honorable way. We believe that doing so would bring honor to God, who created the institution of marriage. In corporate worship, however, we generally choose to sing messages of praise and worship that will bring glory to God and encourage all of God’s people to walk more closely with him (whether married, single, or widowed). So. whether a Christian song has the type of message that can be sung by all people (married or not) in praise and thanksgiving to God or whether it applies more to people in specific circumstances (married, single, called to ministry, parenting young children, dealing with loss, or whatever the life circumstance discussed in the song may be), if a song brings glory to God by:
1. lifting up His good gifts in thanksgiving and appreciation
2. having a Christian message of belief and trust in God in every circumstance,
then we believe that this “new” or “contemporary” song will be used by God to encourage the hearts of God’s people, draw them closer to Him, and to bring honor and glory to God. You will find this subject addressed in our most recent post, “Singing a New Song”, which was written and posted before your comment. (This post can be found @ http://worshipsounds.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/singing-a-new-song/ )
People who write Christian songs are just like every other Christian. We have struggles, we hold on to faith, we seek to live lives that honor God but fall short. That’s why we need a Savior. We encourage you to read the lyrics of contemporary Christian songs and see how God continues to speak through His people and through the gift of new songs.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
- Colossians 3:16 & 17
“And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain; and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
- Revelation 5:9
“He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.”
- Psalm 40:3
Blessings to you,
Travis and Cindy Boyd