Everyone has an opinion on the topic of Church music. Should we have loud music or quiet music? Should there be lights and fog? Should we use hymns, psalms, or modern songs? What instruments should we use?
The reality is that many wise Christians will answer these questions differently, and that’s okay. The problem is that no matter how you answer these questions, whether your church only sings Psalms or modern top-40 Christian radio hits, your worship might be incomplete.
So how can you know if your worship is incomplete?
(Special note: even though it is a crime that modern churchgoers assume “worship” just means “the singing time on Sunday” or church music when it is much more than that, I will often refer to it as such in this article for the sake of clarity.)
If It Never Makes You Think
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
– Colossians 3:16 (ESV)
Much church music fails to carry out one of its primary purposes: teaching.
This verse, and many others, remind us that one of the primary purposes of singing together is to edify one another. Music is a powerful wedding of the mental, physical, and emotional.
Singing at church should be passionate but never devoid of Biblical truth and teaching. In reality, musical lyrics are ingrained in us far deeper than anything else. Because of this, it’s important that the words we sing are strong.
Some questions to ask:
- Do the songs we sing say correct things about God?
- Do the songs we sing say things of consequence about God (not just empty words, but meaningful ones)?
- Does this music engage my mind to ponder the beauty of God as I sing?
If It Never Makes You Sad
Life is not always happy, and our singing shouldn’t be either. If you look at the Psalms (God’s divinely inspired songbook), at least 61 out of 150 (almost half) are laments–songs dealing with sadness and grief.
This is purposeful. Singing songs that deal with sadness prepares us to deal with difficulty, grief, and pain in a biblical and God-glorifying way. We should sing these songs just often enough that we are prepared to walk through the storms of life singing “it is well.”
I fear that much church music today is always happy. If this is the case, people will be surprised and disillusioned when their Christian life doesn’t always feel so “victorious.” Singing laments demonstrates that Christianity deals with real life, even the depths of it; and, it is a powerful witness to the world.
It Doesn’t Connect To Real Life
…having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed…
– Colossians 2:7 (NASB)
If your singing is just a fun pep rally, you’re missing out. It might be fun on Sundays, but real life requires more than just excitement – it requires substance.
We need doctrine and teaching to ground us when Monday rolls around. That does not mean that getting excited or having fun music on Sunday is a “bad” thing. This calls us to strike a balance.
We need to be, as Colossians says, rooted firmly in the faith and knowledge of Christ, just as we were taught (instructed). An excited Christian is only so strong, while a rooted believer is ready for a life of making disciples.
Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
– 1 Samuel 15:22 (NASB)
You Sing Loudly On Sunday But Live Without God Every Other Day of the Week
As Samuel told King Saul, you can “worship” beautifully and God won’t be pleased in the slightest. Real worship at Church overflows into a life of worship and loving obedience. If it doesn’t, then we are incomplete in a very dangerous way.