A Newsletter of Opinion on Current Australian Christianity

Christian Music

Are you concerned that a great deal of the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) we hear on radio, CD’s and even in Church services is NOT what God wants to hear?

No matter what our favourite style may be, God only wants to hear our worship of Him if it is presented ‘in Spirit and in Truth.’ [John 4:23].

If the music you hear in a Church worship service or on stage covers up the lyrics, how is that supposed to glorify God?

If you love your Christian music because it makes you feel good, do you think that glorifies God?

Don’t make any mistake about it – God only approves of music  which is presented to Him when it is offered in Truth (and only God can read the heart of someone to see if they ARE worshipping in His Truth as revealed in the Bible), and in Spirit (again, in harmony with His nature, which hates the self-promotion of man).

Any other type of human motivation for music in worshipping God is completely unacceptable to Him.

This week I am looking particularly at the CCM used in Church services for worship.

Mainly Self-Centred

Contemporary Christian Music [CCM] is very largely man-centred from whatever angle you like to look at it.

First, let’s take the lyrics. Many are about how I feel, repeated numerous times of course, or ‘how much I love Jesus’, ignoring the fact that He told us the only way to love Him is to obey His commands. [John 14:15]

Then let’s look at the CCM style which is used in many worship services.  Much of it is designed to appeal only to the young.

Rock, funk, etc, may be  fun and exciting to play or listen to, but a lot of songs are unsingable because they are tuneless, or have no logical rhythm, or are too slow or too fast or too long or too repetitive for many people to sing sincerely.

Those sorts of songs are useless in worship unless they can be sung by most Christians from the heart, and reflected in their lives every day of the week (ie, sung in ‘Spirit and Truth.’)

The major reason for  the operation of Christian music radio stations, is very clearly man-centred and profit-oriented for the music publishers and promoters.

This attitude has been insidiously manipulated by the music companies, in the guise of praising God, but for the promotion of the artist, the band and the marketing profiteers.

Commercially-driven CCM is continually reinforcing worldly values in people: what God can do for Me, and sensual themes and sounds that cannot be distinguished from many types of secular  music.

The Problem of Hillsong

The main source for CCM in Australia these days is Hillsong Church (the Sydney-based franchise).

Around 20-30 years ago one of the main sources of new songs was the NZ group ‘Scripture in Song.’

I guess there will always be fads and fashions, but Scripture in Song  music was generally much more suited to worship than most today. Their songs, many of which were written by the Garretts and their friends, were often taken straight from the Scriptures.  You can’t go far wrong in worship if you use lyrics straight from God’s Word.

A long time ago many Presbyterian Churches often sang psalms – a New Testament Church practice, and, although they may now be described as unexciting musically [apart from some like Crimond – Ps 23], no-one could complain that the lyrics were not scriptural or doctrinally accurate.

But today we have this performance-based, concert-style music, driven by rhythm and visual effects to the detriment of melody, harmony and lyrics.

It is often indistinguishable from the world’s music and therefore totally unsuited to worship.

What is Good Christian Worship Music?

So, what then is good worship music?

The Sons of Korah have done a good job in putting some of the psalms to music with a  more contemporary sound, and I thank God for them.

However not many of those songs are really suitable for congregational singing owing to the fact that their composers designed them to be listened to, and not sung

by large groups of ordinary non-musicians.

Scripture in Song, mentioned above, have songs which now sound ‘old’ to the younger ear, but this is due to a lack of appreciation for the wonderfully ageless lyrics.

Again, many of the early 20th century hymns are still very good Christian music for worship.  Many of the Wesley brothers’ hymns (18th and 19th

century), along with those of Fanny Crosby and even more latterly, John Petersen, are songs very appropriate to worship God in Spirit and in Truth.

Of the current Christian music composers, I can’t go past the Englishman Stuart Townend.  His ‘How Deep the Father’s Love’ and ‘In Christ Alone’    are just as doctrine-rich and singable as any of the famous old hymns of the past.

Are You a Musician?

If you are a worship leader or a musician (including drummers!) you may not agree with my sentiments.

If that is the case can I beg you to examine carefully the music you are asked to provide for worship services.

Make sure your songs are truly worshipful, without employing devices such as repetition, excessive in volume or too long, or too hard to sing.

But most of all, make sure your performance is TO THE LORD, not the people.  Make sure it is from a pure motive and that it proceeds from a clean heart and a repentance-based lifestyle.

Otherwise, maybe you should disqualify yourself from God’s service until you have examined yourself, as Paul directs in other contexts.

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