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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 (Hold Me). 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...
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Authorities in music have repeatedly told us that music affects the mind in more profound ways than we think. Some have even gone as far as to state that playing classical music to an unborn child has a positive effect on brain development and intelligence! They have gone further to say that some kinds of music particularly this loud hip hop modern music actually is designed to dull our senses particularly that part of the brain which deals with conscience and self-control. This got me thinking, why is that we only find loud and noisy music played in night clubs and other loud places? Why do we not find the old hymns or orchestra/ classical music being played at nightclubs? It is my considered view that the music creates an atmosphere for the goings on in a particular place. Church is no exception; therefore the choice of music is indeed an important issue for a congregation. Furthermore we need to be reminded that the bible does imply that the devil was skilled in music. In Isaiah 14:11-14 and Ezek 28:13 -16 the bible implies that the devil was a musician singing in the presence of God. Probably singing “Holy, Holy, Holy”. We can conclude that the devil is a master deceiver and is knowledgeable in the science of music. We must therefore exercise extreme caution in the kind of music we listen to let alone play/ sing in church and make sure that we have not been deceived. Church is a holy place where God meets with His people for worship and every bit of the service must be carefully planned to reverence Him and recognize His presence. It is quite possible that we might be thinking that the music we are playing/ singing in church is honoring to God when in fact it is honoring the master deceiver. I was shocked to take time to listen to the music of a very famous “gospel” musician not so long ago. Her music was selling in millions. For years I was enjoying her gospel music without quite paying attention to the words. When I took time to listen to the words I was shocked. It dawned on me that I was actually listening to a song dedicated to satan! What the lady had done was to introduce the words “God” and “Jesus” at strategic points in the song and unsuspecting Christians were falling all over themselves to buy the music. I learned one very powerful point, just because the song has “God” or “Jesus” in it does not make it appropriate music for worship. More recently I have also realized that one very popular hymn at my church talks about pagan sun worship! I agree the devil is clever and we cannot let our guard down for one minute. In conclusion we need to be very careful in the selection of music for praise and worship in church. Music is a very powerful tool that the devil knows very well how to use so that “even the very elect” can be deceived. In my view each church must sit down and carefully consider what music is played/ sung in their church. Contemporary music has a higher risk factor than older hymns because it emphasizes good feelings rather than the message. Usually contemporary music refers to that music which is accompanied by modern instruments. There has never been arguments about modern hymns such as composed by the great Bill Gaither. The music played/ sung in church must of necessity speak to the doctrine of that church. We sing before and after a sermon in church to reinforce the message in the sermon. If the music is going to be at odds with the sermon then we are not moving forward. Whilst in my view not all contemporary christian music is bad care must be exercised in adopting it for use in church.
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.
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)
I have been struggling with CCM in our originally traditional church for some time. And it's not that i am not a music lover, because I am. And that may be some of the problem for me. I love to read music and know where the song is going and enjoy the harmonies. CCM in church seems watered down compared to the old hymns. Now I'll be the first to say some of the old hymns are quite slow and sometimes hard to understand. And certainly some of the CCM songs are quite easy to understand when it is 7-11. I feel like most of the toe tapping and head nodding and even hand raising is emotionally driven and not Spirit driven. With the thump-thump of the bass drum, it gets emotions going even if the words are quite benign. I much prefer singing scripture as I have recalled it many times only because I have sung it and committed it to memory. I feel like the emotional, performance-driven music ministries are abandoning a much treasured and meaningful way for the Spirit to be obviously heard. Again I will say I love music and I love CCM on the radio, but in a house of worship I find myself distracted and even rolling my eyes with the head banging of the electric guitarist while everyone sways back and forth. I feel like we are relying on a performance that moves rather than the Spirit that does the moving.
Ah music....something that God gave us to enjoy and to worship Him. Too many of us forget that all music (of all genres) was once "new". To bring it around to Christian music, let me say this: Most hymns we all know were written basically in the 1700 and 1800s. (Yes, there are some exceptions to either side of those eras.) There are many beautiful hymns that will sustain for ages to come. But remember they were all once new and written by contemporaries of that time. So they were all "contemporary Christian songs". Some of our old-time favorites were once bar room ditties that people knew the melody to and someone then later wrote Christian lyrics for. My question to anyone who says our 21st century Christian contemporary music is bad, wrong, etc. Is this: "Did God quit speaking to musicians after the late 1800's? Did He say, "No more music shall be written to honor me"? I don't believe so! We ARE to sing a new song (Psalm 96:1). That verse alone tells me we should and will keep writing Christian songs in many genres. Now wait....don't get ahead of me;-) Yes! Any Christian songs we write should bear witness to the Bible's truths. Some songs just don't. That is a point to keep in mind. I don't think all songs need to be classified as "worship" songs intended for congregational sing-along because sometimes merely hearing the song becomes a personal and internal 'worship' to God. When we're choosing songs for our worship services we should try to have some of the sing-along variety and possibly throw in a "performance" type too. Here's an example: If your church organist plays an instrumental song during offering, no one expects the congregation to sing along, right? We listen and worship more or less "alone". Music has always been a connecting factor in human lives. It truly has healing powers regardless of its content. As to Christian music, ultimately we must "pass the scriptures test" with lyrics and then as musicians we must perform them to the best of our abilities and in keeping with the room in which it's played so as not to become too uncomfortably loud. (I attended a very traditional Christmas program where the organist was SO loud, I nearly wanted to leave! There was no contemporary Christian music played or sung!) At the end of the day, as a musician myself in a Christian worship band, I would not like to think the songs God's given me and others are so undesirable that He says "Stop the bus! This is horrible!" I think He continues to give us music to praise and worship and yes even dance for Him in many ways. To put it like my African friend says "If we can't dance for Jesus, who can we dance for?" Their cultural music is very vivid and exciting and I believe God is pleased to hear His name praised in all types of music. Many songs will be written, sung and performed in many different styles of music in many churches. Some will not please some human ears because "It's not what we're used to in this church" and some will have lyrics that simply are not following God's Word. But I pray that those of us who are writing and playing and singing songs to God will be led by His light to enhance our worship to Him.
William Booth founder of the Salvation Army said 'Why should the devil have all the good tunes'. He went on to write Hymns that reflected his desire to reach the people of his day and he did. He reflected the need of his day as we also ought to do. I do not like some old hymns and likewise don't like some of the current contemporary music BUT that is a pure matter of taste. The words are the important part and if that helps me to worship the Almighty the music is secondary to that. If the words fit the spirit of God's word and the music helps to sing then that is fine by me. To see the younger generation in church singing and praising and people coming into a personal relationship with God is far better than dull music and a congregation without the present generation. This is a comment from an 82 year old who has been worshiping in all the stages of music development since a child.
Is contemporary music good for worship and does it honor God? Absolutely. I am a 61 year old Baptist Pastor and my objective is to reach as many as I can with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The older generation in churches are saved "for the most part". We need to reach into a lost and dying world with the gospel. If this is done with contemporary music and people are saved as a result then so be it, God is honored. What better way than to spread the gospel and allow the Holy Spirit to lead them to Christ. I believe the Apostle Paul, though not knowing about contemporary music gives us a good understanding on how to deal with it. Phil. 1:15-18 15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even [m]from envy and strife, but some also from good will; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.
I am in my late 50's and play in our worship band in our church. We too have a service that is targeting the 'older' generation - those who are past retirement age and sing only the traditional - but once contemporary - hymns. Once a month we have a combined service where we have older hymns and todays 'contemporary' music combined. Our songs are chosen to suit the theme/message of the service and/or the current sermon series, but we too struggle to please everyone. My desire is to ensure the words of the 'today contemporary' songs that we schedule are theologically sound, provide an opportunity for the majority of the congregation to be able to sing, but also meet the needs of those who use the songs/music as an important part of their worship of our great God and Father. Yes - we will never please everyone, and different times - different generations - will ned different approaches to attract new Christians into churches and to Christian living. We have to think differently today in how we do that as going to church is no longer part of what (nearly) everyone used to do going back 75-100 years ago. We need to not only take Jesus's love and the church to the people, but also ensure that the music/worship part of that process will attract today's communities. If it is theologically sound, singable, and allows us to prasie our Lord - bring it on!
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