Mix it up...

This is one of the principles I like when it comes doing church.

I grew up singing hymns my whole childhood singing the same things week after week. They meant nothing to me. I wasn't a Christian and I didn't understand them.

When I became a Christian this suddenly changed, the many hymns with which I was so familiar came alive with wonderful ideas about God and his greatness.

I initially when I joined Crossroads we didn't have any singing. This was because we wanted to be edgy and evangelistic appealing to people who didn't like music, particularly "church" music (people like the old me). Secondly we were (and still) convinced you don't have to have music in a church meeting. Time passed we grew older and realised that this policy probably got more people offside than it attracted. So we introduced regular music a year or so ago.

My point is this we don't have it all the time, every week. It's important to mix things around. Maybe have a sermon series or a week or so without music for the following reasons.

  • It helps people to focus on word ministry.
  • It would allow people to invite the friends who don't like music.
  • It would stops people becoming legalistic about music (you must have music or suffer damnation).
  • It would also be a good way to filter out people who come for "inspiring worship" read (music) rather than the teaching of the word.
Comments allowed... :)



Ruth said... 2/07/2007 4:35 am  

Mike, I found this a fascinating post on many levels. I'm glad you didn't initially allow comments - because my first reaction was 'that is soooooo stupid!', but I've been thinking about it more and it is not as stupid as I originally thought!! ;-)

I agree you don't have to have music in a church service - however, you can't always avoid music either - because there are so many verses telling Christians to sing - albeit 'make a joyful noise'!

However, perhaps part of my disagreement is that I see the purpose of church as different to you perhaps - I don't think church is for the unbeliever primarily, but the believer - from 1Cor14 - so to not do something because it will possibly attract more 'outsiders', makes church more about them than the Christians in the church. Thoughts on that??

Also, one of the great values of good scriptural songs, is that the lyrics are easy to remember - thus these songs encourage Christians to meditate on God's word throughout the week....of course the implication being that you actually have to be singing good scriptural songs!!!

Radagast said... 2/08/2007 6:13 pm  

Yeah, what she said.

Laura said... 2/10/2007 3:01 am  

Glad you allowed comments on this.

When I first started going to sojourn, I remember feeling really disappointed at the brevity of the music time. I would just "get going" and they would quit! But as the weeks went along, I discovered that the part of the service I most looked forward to was the teaching, especially as we got well into our Matthew series.

I think as an exercise in idol-busting, having a week or two now and then without music would be a really good idea. And I'm talking about the idols in the hearts of believers -- namely that we have to have a ripping good old emotional experience in worship, or that the music has to meet this particular standard or whatever. As opposed to coming together as the body of Christ to be fed on God's word, which testifies to Christ our head!

I agree with Ruth (and Luther, by the way), that our Church music is important -- Luther once said something like, "Sing me your songs and I'll tell you your theology." But we sinful humans tend to take even the best of things and make them into idols.

I think having music in a service should be the norm -- it seems to have been in the first century, and throughout the existence of the church. Christians are the singing-est bunch of people because we actually have something to sing about! And we shouldn't just include any old song, but consider carefully the lyrics and how they mirror scripture and honor Christ. But to have a musicless Sunday every so often might be a good way to get people out of their Church-Ruts.

Thanks for posting this, Mike. Good stuff.

BSJ-rom said... 2/10/2007 7:02 pm  

Is there anything wrong with entering a trance-like emotional, mind-altered state?

In such a state we are vulnerable.

Or maybe we are empowered.

Mike Jolly said... 2/11/2007 11:22 pm  

Great thoughts Ruth.
Firstly I agree that music is important and I agree singing/praising etc is commanded in scripture.
I’d also I’d be happy to agree that church is for the believer… however I still think that a meeting should be run in a way in which someone can come in and say “Wow God is really among you”. I guess how to do this is real question.

One of the things that I like about Crossroads (I also noticed this at Christians in the Media) is that things like the language used and sermon, assume there are unconverted people present (lack of jargon etc and clear gospel message). I think this is an important consideration.

However I still think that you don’t HAVE to have music every week. Furthermore not having it for a period of time (eg. Sermon series or couple of weeks) may be helpful for the reasons I outlined in the original post.

Ruth said... 2/13/2007 6:20 am  

Interesting Mike. Yes, I agree that we need to be aware of potential non Christian visitors in our service, and provide for them - and I agree we want a realisation that 'God is really amongst us' (nice link there back to 1Cor 14 btw)....

Would you disagree with Dickson on this one then? In his 'Promoting the Gospel' (which you know my negative opinion of), he argues that singing itself induces non Christians to want to know God - based, I think on Psalm96. When I heard him talk on the topic last year, he seemed to imply that it had the same value as preaching the word itself.

I don't know if I would actually cope without music at all at church - although I used to go to Campus Bible Study weekly at uni - and there was only ever music at the easter service - and there it seemed strange to include it! So, a large part of using it must be cultural context??

Mike Jolly said... 2/16/2007 3:52 pm  

Interesting thought I haven’t done a whole heap of thinking about it. Was Dickson talking about singing scripture or singing generically, as being on par with preaching? Can you enlighten me further on his argument?

Incidentally I have been having a great conversation with Christine’s Mum about worship and culture… maybe more about that later.

Anonymous said... 2/17/2007 2:34 am  

Church is for the sick (believer or non-believer) to meet with the great physician.

Mike Jolly said... 2/17/2007 10:01 am  

Welcome Anonymous... care to expand on what you exactly mean?

Andy M said... 2/20/2007 4:45 pm  

Music is a vital part of church. The people of God are a singing people!

Perhaps our music can become an idol, but frankly so can our culture of sermons. I'm not saying that preaching the Word per se is an idol, but the whole modern "sermon package" we use (e.g. funny opening story to grab attention, use of anecdotes for illustrations, fitting it within a certain three point (or however many) structure, using alliteration for each point, having a nicely presented printed sermon outline etc etc).

And our public prayers can be idols too, if we are doing them to impress.

Or the Lord's Supper (though not much risk of that in evangelical circles where we commit the opposite sin by almost ignoring it!).

Or ...

I don't think therefore the answer to music being an idol is to stop singing! It's to keep doing it well, doing it humbly, singing songs that focus us on Christ and not on me, and teaching us about the proper place of song in church.

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