Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Issue of Music in Finding a New Church

We're currently looking for a new church here, and I'm of the opinion that you need to attend a church for a month or so in order to really get a feel for what it teaches and how it implements the discipleship method it chooses for God's people. Of course, you can sometimes tell if the church is not the right one if they teach something heretical or whatnot.

But, in any case, we've been attending a non-denom (that's the closest you get to a Reformed Church in our area) for a few weeks now. We like the pastor (his teaching seems pretty solid and he seems like an upright man) and we like the people a lot. They're super friendly (in fact, today, even though we declined a couple times for them to make meals for our family while Allison has the baby, they insisted they would do it anyway, which was very nice of them, seeing how we have only attended a few times now).

But with all of the things that we like, I have to say, I HATE the music. Now, I'm not usually a music-controversy guy. I've usually said that I'm more concerned with what's in the music, and that is part of my problem with the music here as well; but my problem beyond what I think are superficial lyrics is the fact that it seems that the church believes in order to be contemporary and hit a certain demographic, you have to have a rock concert on Sunday morning.

Again, I listen to nearly every kind of music. I have no problem with putting Christian lyrics to pretty much any form of music. But I do think that the music needs to fit the message being conveyed, and I do therefore think that if there is a genre of music that best sobers people's minds to get them to think seriously about God, then that genre needs to be used as primary and the other genres as only secondary to convey various Christian messages and prayers to God.

For instance, I think that fast music, with drums and guitars and whatnot, is good for the type of victory-praise you see in the Bible, such as after the Israelites enemies have been put down in war, etc. But it is completely inappropriate for meditation upon sin and repentance, like you would have in something like Psalm 22.

So I don't think it should all be one genre, but I do think that since we don't get very serious about God in our day to day lives then maybe it would be better to have more sobering music, music that brings the mind and spirit to a meditative state (meditation in the biblical sense), where one connects to God through His Word in a serious manner. The part of the movie where the rock song is blaring is usually the non-serious part, where we are all relaxed and there is nothing serious yet to think about. We like it. It's fun. But it isn't where a good movie is going to take us. When the serious scenes come on, we don't get rock music. It would be cheesy and out of place. Instead, we get more endearing instrumentals and slower songs that connect us deeply to the moment. We leave the fun behind for a moment in order to deal with something serious. And God, our sin against Him, and our salvation through repentance and faith is serious business.

Again, afterward, when we have a declaration that sin has been forgiven and God has promised to trample our enemies (and death, our greatest enemy) under His feet, that's a great time for major praise. Let the guitars blare and the drums shout out. But if it's all praise, I'm afraid that most of the congregation will not really connect with God in the quieting of their minds before Him in repentance, and eventually forget what it is they're praising God for.

So I think the best thing to do is to provide a mixture of genres with having the slow and more calming music as primary and the faster music for praise or in conveying God's wrath as more secondary. I have enough entertainment at home, on the go, pretty much every place you turn (especially in Vegas). I don't need the church to offer me more entertainment. I need it to provide an escape to God from it.

It's time to quiet the mind. It's time to listen rather than let your mind run off to a thousand different things. And so, it's time to meditate upon God's Word. Let's use the music that best fits that goal rather than that which will get us "pumped" to be at church.

I think we'll give the church more chances, but I may not be able to get past the music issue, simply because I have had some of the most life-changing decisions in the moments of meditation. To be without those, to me, almost negates any benefit one might get during the sermon, and I don't want to deprive my family of those moments with God, where they're actually listening to the words being sung, and they're being changed by God's Words as they sing them and think about them.

I don't even need to mention that this kind of fast music usually only tolerates superficial lyrics. As I said above, that's not always bad. Sometimes milk is good. Sometimes just saying something simple is good. But it shouldn't be a family's staple meal just to drink milk or common speech to be superficial.

I would hope that the church would rethink what it's doing, and realize, as I often said to my music minister, that the music is half the sermon, and if the music does not accomplish its goal, the sermon will have a harder time in accomplishing its goal. Until we realize this, the music will just not match the message.

1 comment:

  1. btw, to give you an example of what I'm talking about, we sung "Hark the Herald," and we even had to sing that as a rock song. Really?

    And to clarify, I'm not saying carnival music of the older churches is any less distracting from the words. We need to pick the appropriate music that provides an aesthetic display of God's truth to our souls in every generation's music.