Music is a huge part of our world. Certain songs come and immediately take you back to either a good time, or a bad time. They make you remember a first love, or even your favorite summer when you were a kid. My choice in music has definitely changed over the years. When I was a kid, most of what I listened to is music I would ground my daughter, if I found it on her playlist now. My first CD was in 1993 and it was Snoop Dogg’s first album. A couple of weeks ago, however, I went to a Crowder concert. My music taste has changed…for the better!
I’ve been in ministry for long enough now to see different styles and various bands and musicians’ music played throughout church worship. Now I love contemporary worship. I love singing Crowder. There’s something about exciting, powerful, God-filled music to lift you. I even love some of the old hymns as well. You can even do a little mix of the two and have an older hymn done in a slightly newer way. Music has the power to change your mood and assist in leading you to worship the King of Kings.
My critique, as of late, however, has to do with the lyrics and the influence of the bands and churches that are behind the music. I remember being younger and hearing the anger and frustration from older church members (I still choose to believe they were older than I am now) with songs that weren’t hymns done in the 1900’s and before. Now, while I’m not espousing all new music is wrong (sing to the Lord a new song -Ps. 96:1) and that hymns are the only way, a lot of modern worship today needs a biblical makeover. It’s not the music style, but the words, or lack of theology that should be in the songs that I am most critical of. I find myself asking a few questions when considering a song:
Is this song Biblically accurate?
That’s the easiest and first thing we must consider. If it says something wrong and unbiblical, throw it out. I don’t care if the song strums every emotional chord in your body. Pastors and Teachers, you are called to watch over the church and the people (1 Pet. 5:2 and James 3:1). This includes what you allow to be taught or sung from the stage. Songs are more easily remembered. I wish everyone walked around all week and sung my sermons, but they don’t. I wish people drove down the road and screamed out my sermons in excitement as they’re on their way home. I’m almost certain they don’t. They do this with music. That’s why it’s especially important that we make sure the music is biblically sound and accurate.
Does the song build up God, or us?
This is just a good point to remember, because it seems like many songs are trending towards us rather than God. Is the song too vague in it’s words? You know what I mean? Can the song be easily confused for being just another love song of one person to another? If so, it’s probably not appropriate for a worship setting. I say that, not because it is inherently bad, but to reiterate the first point. What point or teaching is the song sharing? If it’s too general and doesn’t clearly speak of God, then why use it?
Does the song come from a biblical and reputable source?
This is part of my own criteria. I have major issues with Bethel Church and the many heresies coming from their church and pastor. Research the issues and problematic theology being taught there. I have issues with Hillsong and the moral failures that seem to pop up in many of their churches. Not to mention that they have ties to Bethel as well. And then there’s Elevation. Steven Furtick has received a lot of criticism as of late. But sad to say, some of it seems to be warranted. Not that I pull for, or want anyone in ministry to receive criticism. I have received enough of my own to not want to wish it on anyone. However, we have an extremely important mission to speak the gospel truth and keep the church pure. If someone is abusing that power, they must be called out, corrected, and not followed (Matthew 7:15-20).
So some, or maybe even many of the songs coming from these churches and bands connected to these ministries might be doctrinal sound with no problems. My caveat with using them, though, is that someone may see their names attached to the song and wrongly assume that their teaching is ok. By using them in worship, we may inadvertently lead someone to follow their teachings.
I’m sure you can find more points of discussion on this very important topic. These are just a few simple ones I think we can all follow. All songs aren’t bad. New music isn’t to be shunned. It’s more of the lazy, general, non-biblical music that we must recognize and change. I even started writing some of my own music. My hindrance is I am not musical, so it’s hard to put my words into song. I’ve thought that maybe pastors, teachers, and writers can begin to move into the realm of songwriting. At least work in unison with gifted musicians. If we care about speaking God’s truth. If we care about the church and making sure everything we do is true, biblical, and uplifting, then we must examine what we sing.