Music and the Church: The Songs We Sing

Music is a gift that God has given to enable us to express truths and emotions in a powerful way. Our goal is to use music to glorify God and to serve the church of Jesus Christ.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3 ESV.  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.

Music and the Church

Music is a gift from God. It enables us to produce vocal and instrumental expression to assist us in proclaiming the truth of God and His salvation and to give voice to the emotions that spring forth from our hearts in response to that truth. It can strengthen and unify us as we sing together, as one voice, as we declare the greatness and wonder of our God and Lord Jesus Christ. Music can help us express those things that we often do not want to say out loud. As David, in the Psalms, we can sing with the church and cry out to the God Who hears and Who knows our every care and anxious thought. It can help us to celebrate and praise God for His mighty power and the works He does on our behalf. Music is a great tool that can be used for the glory of God and the building of the church.

It is important to evaluate music in regards to its purpose and usefulness for the congregational setting.  Much of Christian music is not written to be sung congregationally. There is nothing wrong with that. Christian songwriters should have freedom to write music and lyrics for various venues and purposes. As long as they are not presenting unbiblical or immoral content, they are free to use their gifts in whatever manner God leads them. Regarding styles and complexity of music, songwriters should be able to write and express their creativity with their God-given talents.

However, when it comes to music and the church, specifically related to the songs we sing as a congregation, lyrics should always be grounded in the truth of Scripture. Otherwise, you could have great musical performances that might produce highly emotional experiences, but produce no deep and lasting impact on the participants. When the emotions die down, you are left with little except to seek after the next emotional experience.  There needs to be different criterion for determining which songs we use for congregational worship.

When congregational music is filled with the truth of Scripture, music can be used to teach and reinforce sound doctrine and also give voice to emotions grounded in truth and in response to that truth.  What we choose to use in our services is a critical decision.  With the volume of music available to the church today, a choice does not have to be made between sound doctrine and good music. There are many good songwriters in the church today, clearly devoted to helping the church worship God in Spirit and in Truth. We do not have to settle for songs that have a great tune or beat, but are weak or unclear in regards to content.

We need songs filled with good theology and which clearly reflect the truth that God has revealed to us in His Word. If words or phrases are fuzzy or unclear, they could be confusing, misleading, or, at worst, inaccurate regarding God and the gospel. Corporate singing times are not the best occasion for marginal, unclear, obscure or abstract lyrics that could possibly mislead or misrepresent regarding biblical truth. The message needs to be clear and doctrinally sound. We believe that we will be held accountable for what is taught through the songs we bring to the church to sing. Let’s make sure that we are diligent to use songs with content that is biblical and will enrich the congregation as they worship with their minds and emotions – worship that is in Spirit and in Truth.