We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Church and Abuse of Music for Worship

I really wish churches would quit using “radio songs” — songs that are performed for CDs and broadcast and not meant for congregational singing.

A problem is that the congregation has no song book with the music, so we have to try to figure it out while the lyrics are posted.  Of course those who buy the CDs and listen to “Christian” radio know the song, but the rest of us normal people have no clue.

Another problem is that the music is not designed for congregational singing and so can be complex.  One song we did this week is Sovereign Over Us, and the tune for the lyrics was quite like a dirge.  And of course there is the obligatory repetition of what the performing artist (in this case Michael W. Smith) decided needed repeating ad nauseam.

So, how do we learn the tune?  Well, during the offertory the “worship” band (I despise calling a band a “worship band”) played the tune until we thought it would never end.  Then after the offertory we were told of the new song as the lyrics were projected, and were informed that it was what the band had been playing.  Then, after the sermon we sang it again for good measure!

The other “radio” song we sang was Rock of Ages (Jesus is the Rock), which needed the obligatory LOUD band.  Between the volume of the band and the volume of the song-leader’s microphone, you really couldn’t hear the congregation singing — but perhaps that was because only the people who listen to the radio knew it!

At least, for the most part, the lyrics of these songs were okay, but, especially with Rock of Ages…, there was the incessant emotion-manufacturing repetition—exactly what you can expect from a Baloche song.  I had one irritant with the lyrics to Sovereign Over Us: “Your plans are still to prosper.”  Just where does Scripture say that God has ever had plans to prosper us?  That sounds like one of two things:  1) the “prosperity gospel or 2) abusing Jeremiah 29:11. I’m guessing it is an allusion to the latter.

The whole point is that NEITHER of these songs should be used for corporate worship.  They were written for performing and for private listening and should be kept there.

The second thing about abusing music in church is the ideology of singing “karaoke,” either with solo performances or with choirs.  The worst thing about this is that the volume of the recording is always way too loud, making it difficult to hear the singers.  This Sunday I couldn’t understand the vast majority of what the choir was singing because of the loud music.  There have been times when the children sing in front of the congregation and the recorded music is so loud you can’t even hear the children at all!

What is it with the loud volume all the time in churches nowadays?  The assembly we attend has the volume problem about 30% of the time, while others we’ve visited have the problem almost 100% of the time. 

Please, church leaders, stop all this abuse of music!!! It gets to be very wearing.  (We left right after the sermon so as not to be put through the torture of that repeat performance, and an elderly couple came out behind us complaining about how loud it was.)


Jack Morrow said...

Somebody somewhere has probably written something about when and why the term "worship" became equated just with music, and especially with ear-splitting rock noise. I usually arrive at church after the music is over, for that reason. With that excessive volume I feel like I'm physically under attack--which I am. I have sensitive hearing--and I want to keep it that way.

Martha said...

Simple questions; Can a believer worship our LORD, in spirit and truth, do so, without the aid of a "worship band, worship leader, or any worship authoritarian" of sorts? Do we really need a worship leader in terms of individual or corporate worship in praising our LORD Jesus Christ, for what He has done for us as believers and followers?

If a believer chooses not to worship the worship band, worship leaders, or worship authoritarians, we condemned to hell by Jesus, our Master, or are we criticized and condemned by men/women for not recognizing their superiority in serving the 'lord.'

I fondly remember our elderly woman organist of my youth. She was never called out for her musical talents, we never applauded her skills, and we never took up a special monetary collection for her, and she never complained that she wasn't "recognized or paid for her extra time." She served Jesus and she served all of us and I, to this day, have such respect for her and her faith, for she served quietly as Jesus commands us to do.

"The Sunday Morning Show" has become idolatry to the nth degree and I long to find a so called Christian who is humble in this day and age of "self promotion," inside the buildings we call c'hurches. Pride in men/women's performance are the cornerstone of our modern religious institutions. Sad, sad state of affairs.


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

We attended a Plymouth Brethren assembly for a couple years (left due to sin in the assembly that the leadership didn't want to address). They didn't have a band or even a piano (although they have nothing against instruments being used with worship). The way we worked would be some man calling out a hymn and we'd all sing it a capella. Then someone else would call out a hymn, etc, until so much time went by and then someone would call for communion. More songs after and then it was time for the "sermon." I really liked the way they did their service, but we had poor leadership there. I know about some great PB assemblies where solid teachings are the norm, but none around here.

Anonymous said...

I can't find a solid church to go to any more. I still try on occasion. One of the last churches I went to, the band was so loud I had to leave. I was sitting in the very back and the beat was like I was at a rock concert. I don't go to rock concerts anymore. I don't want my church to be a rock concert.
It was futile to sing the song - I couldn't hear others sing. I couldn't hear myself sing. And then they had tents and rock climbing sets sent up on the stage to go with their theme of camping and climbing the mountain.... It was so weird between the super loud music and the gimmicks up on the stage. It was like, what is this?

Ralph M. Petersen-Always Right; Sometimes Wrong! said...

I don't know if you have seen this already but, if not, I thought you might get a kick out of it. https://youtu.be/4GsTWqiXNFA

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I think you may have posted the wrong link. That one has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

Anonymous said...

I’ve posted before that my now-former church had very loud music. I’m at a traditional church now that uses a hymnal with piano accompaniment and occasional flute or violin. Now I can’t believe I tolerated the rock music for so long. I’m never going back.