The Myth of Christian Music
This article isn’t aimed at encouraging you to stop doing “Christian music” in your worship services. I’m not proposing you sing Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” pre-service, mid-service, or even post-service (though that song is infectious in all the right ways). No, you don’t need to worry about me asking you to do “secular” music in your services. Rather, I want to show you that “secular” and “sacred” are myths when it comes to music.
Let’s face it. Your favorite Chris Tomlin album won’t make it to heaven. Tim Hughes’ “Here I Am to Worship” isn’t sanctified.
I think we see Heaven as a Library of Congress. All the “Christian music” is copyrighted up there, and as long as Jesus is listed somewhere in the credits we’re free to use it. It’s like the CCLI license for our souls.
But Jesus isn’t in the licensing business. He’s in the business of bringing glory to the Father. And let’s just say it. Not all “Christian music” brings glory to the Father. And not all “secular music” brings glory to our religion’s he-who-must-not-be-named.
So “Christian music” is not Christian. And frankly, neither is worship music. Music is music. The question is whether or not it bring glory to God. And that’s all in how we use it.
Note: I’m not suggesting you re-work Carly Rae Jepsen’s song to something like “Hey I just met you, and this is crazy. But I’m your savior, so praise me, maybe.” Please don’t. But I am suggesting a few things.
Christian music is not sacred.
Christian music isn’t untouchable. David Crowder’s “O Praise Him” will never be canonized. And even if it makes it to our holy hymn books, it doesn’t mean the song is sacred.
The Scripture is untouchable. It’s perfect. But many worship songs we sing are actually flawed. They’re filled with bad doctrine or misleading messages. That’s why it’s important to be careful what songs we sing. Too many Christians get all their doctrine from the songs they sing.
So what does that mean? It means you can mix and match and even change it up. If you don’t want to call Jesus the “darling of heaven crucified”, you can call Him the “Lord of heaven crucified”. If you don’t want to talk about heaven coming down like a big sloppy kiss, why not call it an unforeseen kiss?
Because here’s the deal: worship music is a tool – not sacred.
Worship music isn’t your only tool.
Worship music is a tool to help people focus their minds and attentions on Jesus. It helps your congregation sing about His worth. But worship music isn’t our only tool for worship.
A well-executed and explained Lord’s Supper is a fantastic element of worship. It’s not just a tradition. What if we prepared the Lord’s Supper with the same artistry that we used for worship?
Baptism is a wonderful form of worship. Yet again, it’s not another tradition. Imagine infusing artistry into this wonderful confession of faith.
Both the Lord’s Supper and baptisms are mandated by Scripture. There’s nothing wrong with worship. But it also isn’t mandated by Scripture. This means it shouldn’t be the sole vehicle of our worship services.
Let’s step beyond calling five songs “worship”. Let’s start seeing this as a bigger experience than just a block of music.
Worship music can become worshipped music.
Worship wars. Church splits over musical preference. This is the result of our elevating music to being “Christian” or “worship music”. When we start seeing music as sacred, we too easily engage in holy wars defending the stuff. We put the same effort and passion into defending what we see as God as we should in defending Scriptures.
Worship music too easily becomes worshipped.
We’ll even start worshipping our rock stars with guitars. We worship the worship leaders because they’re the keepers of the precious – of the worship music.
It’s not meant to be this way. The tool of worship is never supposed to be worshipped. When that happens we have an idol. And God won’t stand for it. He isn’t in to sharing the spotlight.
So let’s break this myth of Christian music. I’m not hating on the music industry or worship music. I love (sometimes) all of it.
But let’s focus on the right things. Let’s focus on God’s glory. Let’s focus on worshipping Him in spirit and in truth – whether music is present or not.