How does a church choose worship songs to use in services? What are the determining factors? Does the congregation choose them? If so, who wins? The young or the elderly?
Worship songs must have good theology
Some churches are divided over which songs to use in worship services. Many churches are even divided on this issue. When we are told to make a happy noise, does that mean we can use electric guitars and drums or just the piano or the organ? The first consideration in any worship song to be used in a church is the words. Words determine whether or not they are biblically sound. If the lyrics are not biblical, it doesn’t matter what kind of music you use in services… bad theology is worthless worship to God because He will not accept it (John 4:23). God always loves to have His Word read to Him, so if the words contain Scripture, you can be sure that they will be accepted. Music is part of our worship and our music must contain the truth. If our worship music sounds like a heavenly choir but has words that are not true according to the Bible, then it doesn’t matter how good it sounds. Truth in worship, whether in preaching or singing, is the standard for whether it should be used in services.
A quick read of our own church hymns revealed bad theology. I have recommended that some hymns not be used because of the words in the hymns because they do not reflect the accuracy of what is taught in the Bible. Some of these old hymns are beautiful and are the favorites of many, but the wrong words that do not correspond to what the Bible teaches are unnecessary and the danger is that the words of the hymns teach us subliminal error. If we sing a beautiful song… indeed if we sing with the voices of angels… but use words that are not true, then we might as well sing to ourselves. God will not accept such worship if what we are singing is not faithful to the Word of God, the Bible.
Modern verses Classic songs of worship
Instead of having services consisting only of classical or older hymns or newer and more contemporary hymns, why not alternate the two? Worship music shouldn’t be a battle of generations. It should not separate the elderly from the young. This should not cause division or conflict in the church because, remember, we are here to worship God, not to please ourselves with what we love. It’s not about what we to have worship services, but about what we to give it is important to God. God never determined in His Word exactly what kind of music should be sung and what kind of music shouldn’t be. The Bible is silent about which instruments we should or should not use. God does not command to use particular instruments without using others. All God says is raise your voice to sing praises to Him and make a happy noise. Musical styles and tastes change, but only the Word of God remains the same. Knowing the nature of God, we understand that God does not want us to divide ourselves over worship music because it is not an essential part of faith.
Bible guidelines for worshiping song and music
Let the Bible guide our direction for music selection. Let’s read what God says about worshiping him in song and music.
Psalm 98: 4 “Make a joyous noise to the Lord, all the earth; burst into happy song and sing praises!“
It’s a great verse. He doesn’t say we have to be on the key. He only says that we have to make a happy noise. That’s all God cares about. He wants us “to burst“like a dam that retains water”,in joyful song and in praise. ” What could be simpler ?
Psalm 96: 1 “Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!“
God tells us here that we “Sing to the Lord, “Not to ourselves. This song can be an old classic or a new song, anyway we sing to the Lord. This is the key to most of the Bible scriptures about music.
Psalm 100: 1-2 “Make a joyous noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with joy! Come into his presence by singing!“
This is very similar to Psalm 98: 4 in that we are to make a happy noise. Is this “shouts of joy»For us and for our tastes or preferences in music? No! This happy noise is to be made “to the LordOr one might say, addressed to the Lord. When I was young, the older generation said our music was “just a bunch of noise.” Now, God accepts the noise, as long as he’s “happy.” One thing God commands in these scriptures is that we must “come into his presence singing!”Although we are told to come into his presence singing, God does not tell us what type to sing to come into his presence with.
Psalm 33: 3 “Sing him a new song; skillfully playing on the strings, with loud cries. “
This is close to Psalm 96: 1 in that we can sing a new song and we sing for “Him” or for God. One difference here is that we can play “skillfully on the ropes”Indicating stringed instruments. Since the Word of God is timeless, we are free to use strings on electric guitars or box guitars. Strings can include the piano or any other instrument, but this does not necessarily limit other instruments. And we can sing with “loud cries”. Why not!? We have much to cry out for because our salvation comes from the Lord.
Some churches have an early service attended by the elderly. Many of the older generation are early risers and like to have services earlier in the morning and so many churches have the more traditional hymns in the early services if they offer them. Later morning services may contain more contemporary Christian songs of worship that the younger generation and adults can enjoy and thus worship the Lord more joyfully as they sing. Some churches even have a Saturday night service specially designed for young people. They have the opportunity to worship in a much more contemporary way music that can sound like rock and roll to older generations. The Bible does not say what instruments can be used, what style of music can be used, and whether more advanced technology is involved or not. We cannot judge from our own generation what should and should not be used if, and I insist, if the words of the songs of worship are biblically sound. It is the most important thing in all Christian music.
According to what the Bible says, we are to make our song and our playing music of worship to the Lord. Worship music is not addressed to us. I’m not saying we can’t enjoy and get into music ourselves, but the main purpose of worship music is to praise God, not to make us happy. We also know that God never indicates what type of music we should sing or play or what types of instruments should be included. God gives us the freedom to choose and we are not to judge others on their musical tastes because worship music is a non-core issue as far as the essence of the faith is concerned. We have also seen that the words are important in the songs we sing in praise of God. The words of all worship music must to be theologically sound. They should not be contrary to what the Bible teaches. God will not accept what is not true worship or as Jesus said, we must worship God “in spirit and in truth(John 4:23). My prayer is that we do not offend others or let others offend us because of our different tastes and preferences in our worship music; either in worship music in church or elsewhere. The important thing is that we make a happy noise to the Lord.
Article by Pastor Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Senior Editor at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage and energize Christians and answer questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible.
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