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Some contemporary music is honoring to God, and some is not. Motive, method, and doctrine must all be examined. #1 Motive: Motives like getting away from hymns, updating the church, becoming relevant to culture, attracting unbelievers, sounding like the world, appealing to youth, not boring the congregation, changing it up, etc; these are poor motives that do not honor God or worship Him, as they focus on the self. They also do harm to the call to be in the world, but not of it. The motive to play a song (old or new) should simply be that it is a song good for worshiping the Lord! #2 Method: Not every CW band will have these problems. They are common though, so the music is often confused with the method. Sustained loud music is actually unsafe (loss of hearing), and painful for many congregants (headaches, siezures, etc). This has a tendency to force the elderly and the sensitive to sit outside or in the back. It is not just people with medical conditions who may be affected by loud music or strong vibrations. While 'max' volume is going to vary by the individual health needs of the church, a basic guideline for everyone is that normal worship music should be under 85 decibels, and there can be -short- peaks and bursts that go higher (never an entire set or longer than 15 minutes, as hearing loss sets in with sustained 90+ music). The maximum volume can always be less; God can hear equally well at 3 decibels or 300. Other problems that may creep into the method of presentation are -the secularization of the church (as in, the band is trying deliberately to look like the world). -'come as you are, and stay that way' mentality. The band exhorts us not to be holy and set apart in the righteousness of Christ, but to revel in our broken humanity - the worship of the band over the worship of God (the praises of the band are extolled "come see the hip new band with great lyrics and awesome music! They are really on fire!" while the praises of God are minimized (Explicit praises like 'How excellent are the things you have made, your wonders fill the earth' are replaced with vague and self-focused lines like 'I love to praise you God, I'm going to praise you, look how we praise you', etc - while never actually getting around to the actual praising). Posters and advertisements for bands and events may be made with lots of information and pictures about the band members, but very little (sometimes even nothing) about Jesus. -Biblical ideas on worship (service, praise, thanksgiving, etc) can be replaced by experiential high and entertainment. While the Bible emphasizes being set apart, extolling the glory of God, and laying our life down as a living sacrifice all as different types of worship - contemporary music often treats worship as the experiential 'feeling' of being close to God. - Musically, the songs are often difficult for the congregation to sing. They often tend to be 'performance' songs. -Vain repetition and filler words (Woahahooooahoh...), rather than increasing the mindfulness of our worship, have a tendency to zone out the mind and focus the person on the feeling. - A hip image may be prized over embracing spiritual gifts and talents. Many sound problems come from imbalanced sound, or bad singers. Compound a bad sound system or off-key musicians with loud volume, and you will end up with a distracted congregation that is in pain. The same goes for song-writing. #3 Doctrine: While there are many wonderful contemporary songs that will likely endure as classics - contemporary songs overall trend towards being vague. Many songs do not shy in bringing in strange theologies, or skew towards personal view points. Many could easily be secular love songs (In the Secret). Some warp scripture entirely (Days of Elijah), or flip around scripture to highlight self (Above All). *** It is fine to use contemporary songs, but test any song against scripture, and be sure the motive and manner are for the worship of God.
Simple for me...As long as I am singing to my God, and desiring to please Jesus and longing for closeness, a deep personal relationship, It doesnt matter whether I'm sing out of a hymn book or singing to rock music. My words are still honoring my Father and my heart longing for Him.
Let me first say I'm an "older" brother who has come to believe that it's not so much how a song is delivered and received; that is a matter of personal taste, and usually follows generational lines. However, in my opinion it's the lyrics, the words that should be considered before a song is used in a worship service... In all forms of music there are words, phrases and thoughts that are not biblical, and contemporary "Christian" music is no exception... For me, if it passes the "word" test, edifies my brothers and sisters, drawing them into heartfelt praise and worship of our Lord, then why not...
I am a Confessional Lutheran, therefore the music we sing in church is not CCM, but rather hymns. I do not like CCM and I believe it has no place in the Divine Service. A lot of CCM focuses on the Christian and not on Christ and what He has done for us. CCM seeks, in my opinion, to lift up the Christian and praise what the Christian does for Christ. The focus is on us and that's bad. Are we going to church to worship Christ or ourselves? Plus, the way CCM songs sound, lead me to believe they are more suited to individual singing, not congregational singing. That just adds to the problem of the church existing for "ME" and conforming to what "I" want.
In my opinion, much of the CCM I've been exposed to is shallow, vacuous, and highly repetitive with the tag line being repeated ad nauseum. My wife and I have raised four (now adult) children and have been Christians for over 30 years. Consequently we have been exposed to every sort of worship music under the sun. The current philosophy regarding the musical aspect of the worship experience appears to be that of being more culturally relevant to attract and appeal to unbelievers and the ever more youthful congregation members rather than to praise and glorify God. After being Southern Baptists for most of our Christian life, we are now members of a PCA church that adheres to a more liturgical form of worship which incorporates primarily "classical" hymns along with some occasional more "contemporary" music of the "unplugged" variety...nothing like the stuff I described at the beginning of my comment. My wife and I were teens and young adults in the 60's and 70's and attended more than our share of rock concerts (everything from The Eagles to Black Sabbath), so we are certainly not "stick in the muds" or old fuddy-duddys when it comes to musical tastes. I just think the bulk of the CCM I hear and have heard in worship services is of very little value other than displaying the skill and showmanship of the band members and generating an emotional high for the "audience" that has little or nothing to do with the worship of God.
A very wise and godly older woman said to me (as I was downing CCM) when our church was changing worship style: "The old hymns sing about God and CCM sings to God. This style of music is very often a heartfelt prayer sung to The One True Living God, who alone hears and answers." Needless to say, my then 83 year old friend put me in my place.
At what date of writing does a piece of music change from acceptable to contemporary? If someone who says they are Christian wishes to use a piece of music in a church service then who are you or me to judge it as unacceptable? I do not like every type of music, but is not my job to say that others will not find it works for them. Can you give a date when classical music ended? When did modern music start? All classical music was contemporary when it was first played.
Ephesians 5:19 "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;" Notice that Psalms and hymns comes first in the passage, then songs. Psalms and hymns are worshipful words either poetic and/or musical that focus on the attributes and abilities of our great God. The old hymns are not only worshipful but also teach us doctrinal principle. This new-age 7-11 music (seven words spoken 11 times) seems to be right out of eastern cultic chanting. Matthew 6:7 "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking."
David Wilkerson, author of "The Cross and the Switchblade," and former pastor of The Times Square Church, had taken a public stand against CCM extremes, especially Christian Rock Band performances. Friends of his encouraged him to attend a Rock concert to hear the powerful testimonies of the performers and see how young people responded in praise and worship. So he decided to do just that, entering a concert hall incognito. Being spiritually sensitive, it wasn't long before he saw bolts of fire and demons jumping out of the performers and flinging themselves into the young people in the audience. They would go into a frenzy and scream out accolades, worshiping not God but the performers. Wilkerson shouted "Ichabod" and fled the auditorium in a hurry.
I believe Christian Music that honors God and spreads the Gospel is fine whether it be traditional or contemporary. If you were to go back 2,000 years and bring back the Saints from days past they'd probably think that our most traditional hymns were not worthy or honoring God. We were told to make a joyful noise unto the Lord, God didn't add a bunch of regulations to how we should do that so why do we.
Col 3:16 Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. It doesn't much matter the type of praise song, comforting hymn, psalm, southern gospel, or even a most simple "joyful noise" to The Lord from our hearts. We all have different musical preferences, just as we all have preferences in passages from The Bible. Who are we to judge? One fairly recent song pretty much "nails it": "Jesus friend of sinners the truth's become so hard to see. The world is on their way to You, but they're trippin' over me. Always looking around but never looking up I'm so double minded. A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided" (Jesus Friend of Sinners by Casting Crown)
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