Your church music is incomplete if…
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 great Christians will answer these questions differently, and that is okay. However, no matter how you answer all of these questions, whether your church only sings Psalms or 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 (ESV)
The biggest area where many churches come up lacking is that our church music fails to carry out one of its primary purposes: teaching. Colossians 3:16 and many other verses remind us that singing together is about honoring God and edifying one another. Music is a powerful wedding of the mental, physical, and emotional. This means that singing at church should be passionate but never devoid of Biblical truth and teaching. Musical lyrics become ingrained in us far deeper than many other things. Because of this, it is important that the words we sing are true and meaningful.
Some questions to ask:
- Do the songs we sing say that which is true about God?
- Do the songs we sing say meaningful things about God (not just empty words)?
- Does this music engage my mind as I sing?
- Is this singing horizontal and vertical? Does my church’s approach to worship include the vertical aspect of praising God as the focus, but also the horizontal aspect that allows the members to be a part of one group that “teaches and admonishes one another” as we sing?
Your church music is incomplete if it’s always happy
Life is not always perfectly happy and our singing should not be either. If you look at the book of Psalms, you will find that 61 out of 150 (almost half) are laments–songs dealing with sadness and grief.
This is on purpose! 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 often enough that we are prepared to walk through the storms of life singing “it is well.”
Most church music today is always happy. This opens the door for people to be disillusioned when their Christian life doesn’t always feel victorious. Singing laments demonstrates that Christianity deals with real life, even the painful depths of it.
Your worship 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 (NASB)
If our singing at church is just a fun pep rally, we will be missing out. It might be fun on Sundays, but real life requires more than just excitement, it requires substance. We need substance to ground us when Monday rolls around after the rush of Sunday morning fades. 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 (NASB)
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.