Random Thoughts Regarding Music
by Evangelist Dave Young
Have you ever noticed that music can be a pretty big deal in our Independent Baptist Churches? As an evangelist, I suppose I have seen just about everything in this area. I have been to some churches who were more strict than others and to some who were less strict than others and to some who probably should have been more strict. I have heard “good” music done rather badly and “bad” music done rather well. I suppose I have heard more opinions about music than just about any other issue (rivaled only perhaps by opinions regarding the issues of dress and translations). No doubt about it, music can be a pretty big deal and yet all of us should desire to respond appropriately regarding this vital issue.
Here are some random thoughts about how we could respond more appropriately.
- As much as possible, don’t be critical.
Do you know what I mean by that? I have observed that in some local churches a critical spirit regarding music can be deadly to that local church. I know some people who can become so upset about music that they refuse to sing in the service. They criticize their pastor for not “taking a stand” and then begin an “aren’t-you-bothered-about-this-too” campaign behind his back. For the record, I am not talking about “Christian rap” versus “Amazing Grace” or loud versus quietly reverential or guitars versus pianos either. I am talking about a pastor being accused of “going liberal” because he has suggested they sing some songs by Ron Hamilton. Really! I am not making that up. And another where he is “going liberal” because they used a new Biblically accurate hymn-style song about the cross of Jesus Christ that was apparently produced by a music production company that had not passed the inspection of some local church music policeman! My brothers and sisters, may God help us to defeat the critical spirit that is so often related to our music positions and preferences.
- As much as posssible, give grace.
If the only way a person can hold to and understand my strongly held music positions is to attend my alma mater for four years or listen to my five hour explanation via my teaching series, perhaps I have developed a system that is less Biblical and more man-made than I prefer to admit. After all, the Bible basically keeps it pretty simple. Sing a new song. Make a joyful noise to the Lord. Come before Him with singing. Let the Word of God dwell in you by teaching and admonishing each other through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make melody in your heart to the Lord. And so forth. Because the Bible really does keep it pretty simple, perhaps we could give each other more grace than we usually do. I may not prefer a song, a style, or a composer. I may think the music is too loud or too quiet or too fast or too slow or too conservative or too liberal. I can still give grace. I can assume you love the Lord and that your heart is in the right place. I can even disagree with your music and still give grace. I can love you. I can pray for you. I can speak well of you. I can even thank God for you.
- As much as possible, assume the best.
My friend may use music that is less conservative than I think it ought to be. It is helpful for me to remember that they are not evil. I may even be more right regarding music than they are, but they may also love God as much as I do and even win more souls to Christ than I do. So I can disagree and at the same time assume the best. I can disagree with a brother over music and still love him and even like him. In other words, I can assume the best!
- As much as possible, seek to be Biblical.
I know this one can be and will be debated. I have two friends who are both “crazy” conservative but consider the other’s music problematic at best and even wrong at worst. And both of them are almost as far to the right on music standards as it is possible to go. I couldn’t begin to tell you why they disagree. I don’t get it and I don’t understand it and their explanations have not helped me to do so either. I suspect that instead of being Biblical they are being musical. I am convinced the two can be different! Musical positions abound: we only sing old hymns; we never use guitars; we do not hold microphones; church music should be slow and reflective; we never have music that leads to toe-tapping; we reject all recently written songs (unless they are written by those who hold to our particular positions of course); the arrangement must in no way undermine the integrity of the song; and on and on I could go. However, the Bible really is far more simple than many of our musical positions. Consider how simple this is:
Make sure your music is doctrinal because truth is essential and music has a wonderful ability to teach truth (Colossians 3:16).
Make sure your music is easy to sing because the Bible teaches us that we are to “make melody” in our hearts to our Lord. Perhaps we can even infer from that statement that we should not make the rhythm a driving force in our music (Ephesians 5:19).
Make sure your music is meaningful because it is one of the ways we are to speak to ourselves the truths of God’s word (Colossians 3:15, Ephesians 5:19).
Make sure your music is worshipful because we are to sing “unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).
Make sure you keep your music fresh, because we are also to “sing a new song unto the Lord” (new is literally fresh) (Psalm 33:3, Psalm 96:1, Psalm 149:9).
Make sure your music is joyful, because we are to “come before his presence with singing” (literaly “with a “shot for joy”) Psalm 100:1-2.
So, do you agree with me? Why or why not? I would love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading.
Your sincere friend,