Thoughts About Church Music

Bill Lovegrove

Read it in Korean

Music is important to God

There was music in the Old Testament temple (1 Chronicles 15:16). There will be music in heaven (Revelation 14:2-3). Singing is a sign of a Spirit-filled believer (Ephesians 5:18-19). We are told to sing to God (Psalm 149:1). Music should be an important part of our worship.

Worship style is important to God

Many times in the Bible people were judged for worshiping the true God but in an improper manner (Exodus 32:5, Numbers 3:4, 1 Chronicles 13:10, 2 Chronicles 26:18). We cannot choose just any kind of worship. We must ask, "what kind of worship does God like?"

Church music should focus on God

Secular music can be designed to entertain, to make us feel good, to be exciting, or to make us cry. None of these are bad. But church music should make us think about God (Colossians 3:2, 3:16). When a song is finished, we should not ask "How do I like it?" We should ask, "did that help me think about or praise God?"

Church music should reflect a spiritual response to God

The Psalms repeatedly tell of a "new song" from God in response to spiritual experience (Psalm 33:3, 40:3, 96:1, 98:1). The workers and the objects in the temple were "set apart," specially reserved just for temple use (Leviticus 8), The best church music is composed to reflect our relationship to God, not recycled from secular music.

Church music should be respectful

In the Psalms are commands for exuberant praise, but they are balanced with instructions to maintain an attitude of respect and submission (Psalm 96:9, Psalm 99:1-3). When people meet God in the Bible, the response is usually humble submission.

Church music should glorify God, not the performer

In a secular concert the focus is on the performers, and we honor them for a good performance, often with applause. In church the focus should be on God, not the performer. The music should cause us to praise God, not the musician or composer. Performers who dance while they perform may be drawing attention to themselves, not to God. Congregations that applaud are tempted to praise the musician, not God. Musical arrangements that "show off" the musician's ability draw attention to the musician, not to God.

Church music should emphasize the words, not the music

Instrumental music is encouraged in the Bible (Psalm 144:9), but it is still for the purpose of praising and glorifying God. Instrumental music should be limited to 1) accompanying vocal music, or 2) playing songs for which the audience already knows the words. If the accompaniment hides the words or distracts from the words, it is not good. If the audience does not know the words, the song cannot help them to praise or worship God (1 Corinthians 14:7-11). On the other hand, if the accompaniment emphasizes the words, it can make the song more effective.

Church music should avoid bad cultural associations

Three new musical styles were invented in America in the 20th century. These are jazz, rock, and rap. In America, each of these styles is associated with ungodly words, attitudes and actions. Although some people use these musical styles in the church, the sound is offensive to Christians who know the cultural history. We are commanded to avoid worldly things (1 John 2:15-16), and these three music styles were part of a worldly, sinful culture. We should not allow these styles to influence our church music.

Church music should not use instruments and performance styles with bad cultural associations

Some musical instruments are associated with bad musical styles. The electric guitar and the drum set are two important examples. Certain kinds of dancing are also associated with ungodly music, performers, and activities. Performance in church should not remind people of worldly concerts, so these instruments and performance styles should not be used (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

Church music should not provoke sensual response

Music often provokes a physical response. Some music makes you relaxed, other music makes you want to march. Some music makes you want to dance. Some music seems particularly to make people want to dance in a sensual, immoral way. Avoid music that makes you want to dance, especially a kind of dance that is ungodly (Judges 21:21, Mark 6:22).