Thursday, May 11, 2006

Music Wars

Tonight we are having a meeting to discuss music in the church. This is a very necessary discussion because there are so many different opinions as to what is appropriate and how to proceed musically in the church. Thankfully, one thing that almost everyone agrees on is the importance of music when it comes to the worship of God. Music is a gift that the Lord himself has given to human beings in general and it is to be used in a special way by his people to honor him. However, beyond this basic perspective there is much disagreement. Two areas of debate involve the use of so-called traditional versus contemporary music. Some favor the former while others are adamant about the latter. But is it really necessary to approach the issue in this way? Neither antiquity nor novelty makes music great and useful in Christian worship. There are bad ancient hymns and there are bad modern songs. Just as there are excellent examples of both hymns and songs. What we need is discernment. We need to examine what is being said by both the music and the lyrics in light of God's word. Only then do we have a sure foundation on which we can build.

It also seems to me that Christians need to be humble enough to realize that their musical preferences and tastes are not the be all and end all of musical excellence. We need to obey the apostle Paul's injunction and in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). For some, there will always be a special place in their hearts for the music that was being sung when they were children in the church, or when they were converted, or dealt with by the Lord in a personal way. All of that is fine as long as they don't stop there and refuse to grow and expand their musical repertoire as time goes on. For others, there is security in what they have always known, or what has been approved by others. Again, security is good, but not at the expense of thinking for oneself and growing in the truth of God. And then there are those who immediately embrace and endorse anything that is new. As if what is new must be better than that which as gone before. This is a big mistake. What is old has often stood the test of time and usefulness in the lives of God's people. It is therefore very important to carefully examine newer music to make sure that it is true and honoring to God and that it will be a blessing to God's people.

While music is important it is not important enough to fight over. There are greater concerns in this world and in our lives during the short time that we are here on the earth. Christians need to work together to find a way in which we can all praise God without dividing and subdividing into smaller and smaller groups. This is a day when we need to speak with an united voice for the Lord Jesus Christ. If this is to occur we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to know an outpouring of the love and grace of God. If all of us put Jesus first, the 'music wars' that plague so many congregation will become a thing of the past. May we live to see the day!


Spencer Haygood said...

Amen and amen! Hope your discussions were profitable and honoring to the Lord.

God's blessings,

Kirk M. Wellum said...

Hi Spencer, great to hear from you again. I trust all is well with you and yours. I am also happy to report that we had a great meeting last night and I trust that God will use what was accomplished for his honor and glory. Just think, in heaven all wars will cease, including the musical variety, and we will finally worship God as we long to even now!

Dan McGowan said...

Hi Kirk, I could go on for a long, long time. Been there, done that, got the "worship-themed" t-shirt. Just want to tell you I really appreciated your comments on this ridiculously over-cooked topic that is slowly, but surely, and sadly, killing off (emotionally and physically, I'm afraid) wonderful leaders in our churches. It has been my experience, over and over again, that in this case, we really do shoot our own. It saddens me to realize that it may never stop until we reach glory - and then we'll all feel a tad ashamed for how we treated each other! LOL... Seriously, thanks for your comments. You spoke my heart on this matter.

Kirk M. Wellum said...

Hi Dan, thanks for your comments. The only way we will survive the 'music wars' is if we keep our eyes on Jesus and emphasize what it truly important to him. Then I believe that we will learn anew what it is to worship God in spirit and in truth and ironically we will be in a position to be truly useful in the kingdom.

Richard said...


No music wars over at Marshall Memorial United Church. Perhaps some discussions.

Our band is performing the new Bon Jovi song - "Welcome to Wherever You Are" on Sunday May 29th, at our 8:50 am Service. I heard them practice last night and it sounds good. The song is #8 on the CHUM FM Chart this week.

Everyone is welcome to join us.