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Contemporary “Worship” Music


I am fully aware of the difference between praise and worship music. To worship is to revere, to bow down in spirit, admire in awe; and to praise is an appreciation, commendation, or hallelujah. Both have a place in our churches. I believe the Bible teaches that both are proper.

That said, allow me to express what I feel today’s Sunday Morning Contemporary music advocates are failing to recognize. God deserves more than a “Pop Music” or “knee slappin” attitude from us during Sunday Morning Worship Service. I’m not referring to the lyrics, the subject, or instruments used; but the mood which, in many cases inspires jiving, body motions, and results that imitate secular music concert movements. This in the same service where pastors orate mightily in a “holy” tone of voice and use inflections that simulate heavenly auras. These pastors know the value of awe and holy seriousness when delivering heavenly messages. They use no knee slapping and grooving. They use no “rap” forms of speaking. They know the awe and respect in worship of which an Almighty God is worthy.

During praise services, e.g., youth meetings, camp meetings, concerts, evening praise services, or in the home, or during private music listening sessions, contemporary religious music can be used to satisfy musical tastes that have been cultivated by years of listening to secular, pop scene renditions.

The argument that many have been won to Christ through the use of contemporary music, therefore should be used during Sunday Morning Worship Service, is not appropriate. Winning the lost should be through witnessing, and living observable Christian lives, then hearing the spoken word that explains the meaning of and way to obtain salvation. If the only effective tool to cause the unsaved to hear the “Word of God” is through baiting them with contemporary music in order to draw them in the front door of the church on Sunday Morning, then something is desperately wrong with such a church. The unsaved are not coming to worship, they are coming to a hear secular sounds that incidently contain religious words. And those individuals who insist on contemporary music during worship services may be worshiping the sounds, atmospheres, and moods engendered by the popular, secular music of the day. If musically great hymns and gospel songs make the unsaved turn away then perhaps poor performance has something to do with it. Incidently, many of the contemporary religious music performances fall far short of musical excellence.

To those who would remind me that some hymn tunes, when written, were originally popular secular tunes of the day I would respond: there is a very wide diversity in the present culture between secular “down and dirty” and “easy listening and lyrical” tunes. Both can be called popular tunes of the day but there is a vast difference in the mood that is set by their use. Too much of the contemporary religious music styles employed during Sunday Morning Worship services in our present age come close to the “down and dirty” genre.

On a personal level, I have often observed many young people and adults alike looking at each other as they are swaying and clapping to the secular beat of contemporary praise music during the Sunday Morning Worship service. There is no way I can judge what their thoughts are at the moment, but, through experiences of a lifetime, I have observed the same bodily movement responses and moods as I performed in night clubs during my early adult life.

Do advocates of contemporary music use during Sunday Morning Worship services also desire to see the sacrament, scripture reading, praying, and preaching performed in a secular contemporary mode? The logic with which the argument is made would dictate the desirability of such performances. Should the art on the walls and atmospheres in our sanctuaries be similar to that in the city’s pubs and gathering places in order to draw the unsaved to our churches? Why only music?

Posted by Ralph at February 5, 2009 12:53 PM
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