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 tons of great Christians will answer these questions differently, and that is okay. The problem is that no matter how you answer all of these questions, whether your church only sings Psalms or modern top-40 Christian radio hits, your worship might be 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.)
Your church music is incomplete 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
Many churches today come up lacking in that music in church 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 is 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?
- Does my church’s approach to worship include the purpose of praising God, but also the purpose that the members teach and admonish one another as we sing?
Your church music is incomplete if it is never sad
Life is not always perfectly happy and our singing should not be either. If you look at the book of 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.
Your church music is incomplete if 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
If your singing at church is just a fun pep rally, you are 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 the corner of Sunday. That does not mean at all 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, 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
Most importantly, your worship is incomplete if 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.