Most of you know that I am an Evangelist! As a result, I have been in literally hundreds of churches here in the USA and in many around the world. I can tell you that I have seen just about every kind of music program that a local church could have. I can also tell you that I have heard just about every positional view as well – at least I hope so! Here are some thoughts about music based on my observations of all of the different local churches where I have served:
- It is always right to sing songs that are doctrinally accurate and doctrinally powerful. A song that is “cute” or “trite” may be fun, but I would think should either not be used at all in local church worship or should only be used sparingly. We can teach wonderful truth to our congregation, and especially our children, by using songs that are doctrinally rich. I would assume that everyone could agree on this point!
- It is best to sing songs that clearly emphasize a melody. Some new songs have a great message, but also have choppy timing. As a result, I have observed, from multiple platforms, that congregations struggle to sing them. Others have abrupt endings that leave the audience hanging in an awkward silence. In my experience, a song that is easy to sing will do at least three things:
- It will increase audience participation. People will sing joyfully and passionately. The world around us frequently uses this to their advantage – think “Rocky Top” at a Vols football game. The entire crowd will sing along in the stadium and hum it on the way home. One of my friends commented, “I am not even a Vols fan, but I find myself singing along!: Most of us would recognize the song “we will, we will, rock you” and likely can hum it or sing it. It is easy to sing and the simplicity of the melody has made it popular all around the world. When our church music is simple and easy (and doctrinal) we have given our church family truths they can carry in their heart and truths they can sing all through their lives.
- It will increase heart memorization. Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus that their music should result in them singing and making melody in their heart to the Lord. Heart memorization is music that contains truth and melody and that can be easily hummed, sung, or even whistled.
- It will appeal across the board. Young and old. Conservative and not so conservative. Baptist and others. And so forth!
- It is good to offer variety. This really hit me in a recent revival. The church sang some older hymns and spiritual songs in every service. They were powerful and meaningful and a blessing. They also sang some newer ones, including a few I had never heard. I enjoyed them as well. They were Biblically sound and easy to sing. The church choir sang a Southern Style song. The variety was enjoyed by the entire church! It occurred to me that the older folks reveled in the hymns, some younger folks likely in the newer songs, and the “rednecks” in the Southern Gospel (that was a joke because that is often my favorite). The church family enjoyed the music service and sang joyfully. The church didn’t “rock-out” nor did it ‘die-out.” There was life, joy, unity, and worship.
- It is unwise to allow music to become a source of contention in the church. In my opinion, we can err on all sides. Those who prefer to be more contemporary can ignore the needs and preferences of an entire generation and can even become disdainful towards those who prefer things in an older style. Those who prefer to be very conservative, can become so concerned that they border on being critical rather than joyful and worshipful. Neither position should be accepted. We should wisely search for music that is accurate and powerful doctrinally. We should use songs that clearly emphasize a melody. We should offer variety because, chances are, your church is filled with a variety of needs and preferences. We should continually work to keep our church family in unity regarding this important issue!
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Next week I am going to write a follow-up article with some random thoughts for Music Directors and Worship Leaders. I hope you will read that one as well.
Thanks for reading,
Your sincere friend,