Worship Music and Substance

“Mrs. Fribblebiddy doesn’t like the loud music you played today! She has complained to the elders. Turn it down!!!” And so the new worship leader’s hopes of taking the church to the next level in worship were dashed. Back to the old pump organ!

What is the best music to play for a worship service? Unfortunately, there are many strong opinions about this, and they are guided more by preferences in certain styles of music. “I like contemporary,” says one. “No, we must stay traditional,” says another.

Worship is more than just singing- it is a lifestyle in spirit and truth (John 4:23). The contemporary lover can be nothing more than moved by the beat of the music. The hymn lover can sing a great theological treatise unmoved. Both are missing it.

The issue is not the style of the music, but the SUBSTANCE. Substance can be found in any type of music, be it Bach or the Beatles. The problem is that there is so much music out there having no substance at all.

I’m a former rocker, but I don’t care much for rock music at church. However, on two occasions I was totally blessed by rock worship bands. They were singing great truths about the Lord and the Spirit of God moved me. They had substance- declaring great things and not just singing, “You’re the cream in my coffee, your the icing on the cake!”

I like a good hymn, but there are tons of meaningless hymns out there! Just because it is a hymn does not necessarily make it any better than a chorus. The missing key is SUBSTANCE. Our culture has been conditioned to accept things without substance, and that to me is the biggest problem in a lot of worship music today.

Singing to the Lord, “Fill me up,” or “I’m so desperate and needy,” may or may not be meaningful, but it will not bring the answer. When we instead declare the truths of God in song, we hear the Word, and faith comes by hearing the Word (Rom.10:17). We meditate on the Truth, and the Truth sets us free! So why do we spend so much more time singing songs that declare our emptiness and struggles?

It probably does not concern the devil much when we sing, “I want you, I need you.” The devil probably enjoys a nice love song with only vague references to God, as much as the pop hits played on the radio! But when he hears, “All Hail the power of Jesus’ name, let angels prostrate fall,” he must tremble!

As music needs substance, there has to be substance in us as well. People can sing the greatest truths with the blankest stares on their faces and coldness in their hearts. Maybe they need a good rock band to stir them up.

One more thing! I think we need to be sensitive to our culture and our youth, but we do not have to abandon the traditional in order to win them! Nor does everything have to be MTV-paced to keep them, though variety is important. If the Spirit of God is present, whatever the music, they will be attracted. Our culture has been trained to accept things that lack substance. But if they see substance I bet it will suffice for any lack of “being in line” with musical preferences or tastes.

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