Music – it’s just so personal.
Musical Theory Crash Course – What is Music?
Let’s, for a second talk about music on a secular (wordly) level. It’s composed of melody, harmony and rhythm. Theoretically, then, a computer can write a song by adding all of these elements in some way and create ‘music’. And computers can and do this. On a secular level, it’s actually pretty good. So let’s be clear that music can also be 100% impersonal.
Genres are really just a ‘tendency’ of one or more of the three components above to follow similar patterns. I happen to really like reggae as a genre and the reason is syncopation or ‘off beat’ rhythms. Instead of a typical rock beat which goes:
So ‘reggae’ would follow a ‘tendency’ to do that or similar rhythm and would therefore be considered a ‘reggae rhythm’. There are, of course, other elements like the place where the bass comes in which is so different from standard rock as well.
And don’t think that church music is without genres and this is part of the discussion of this blog post. But if you were to step back there are two major ‘church genres’: the hymn and what Koreans call ‘CCM’ or what English speaking countries tend to call ‘Praise & Worship Music’. Now, on that topic, let’s start this blog with some FUN! Because I’m all about fun whenever possible, even if people get upset.
Note before clicking: do *NOT* go to the red URL because it seems to go to some very potentially *bad* places, although I haven’t researched nor will I.
Is it possible to make worse music for God? It’s music like this that has turned a lot of people away from Jesus I think! What the heaven genre is this? “Mullet Praise”? Dear God have mercy…
Let’s stick with this fun theme and watch another one, shall we?
Note before clicking: Based on my own research I cannot support Amazon (who owns Audible) or Facebook, so please do not support what he is selling until you have done your own due diligence.
How to write a perfect “Praise and Worship Song” (CCM):
This same guy made this similarly funny video.
The Problem with Christian Bands
But this topic of music is not actually that ‘funny’ in the church. I heard a statistic that I have never been willing to research myself but that I believed immediately upon hearing which went like this: “Music is the number one cause of all church splits”. As soon as I heard it, I believed.
When I became a disciple of Jesus I was coming from a rock and roll garage band kind of background. I was the typical teen with the guitar and amp and even made a little headway with our little band. Although music was, before I met Jesus, my god and idol, when I came to the church I realized that music was still important. Ever since then, and it has been over 20 years now, I have wanted to take a deeper look at what music is, what it should be, and why it’s so impacting. This blog post is supposed to just whet the whistle on the topic and hopefully spur some comments from people around me and out there so that I can build on the study and leave something useful out there for the body of Christ.
We’ve had some laughs, we’ve drunk some milk, but now let’s get into the meat (even though I’m trying to be a vegetarian). A Korean sister in the Lord found this video. I searched both high and low trying to find it in English because a) I want to know who this dude is so I can give him some credit and b) I desperately want to watch part 2 of this series. Anyway, if you speak either English or Korea, this video should be amazingly beneficial to you on this topic. If you know who this guy is, please throw some comments below and let me know:
Details about music, genres, right, wrong, harmony, melody, rhythm as it pertains to the church and worship
But for me, it didn’t stop there. There is more to discuss. Here is a good video to watch where a hip hop reggae Christian artist dude asks a very important and personal question: Why do some churches reject his music? Please watch especially the response from Ravi Zacharias at the end.
Why do some churches reject my music genre?
The first speaker answers with a very bold and, in my opinion overly generalized way when he said ‘If you reject a certain kind of music there is something wrong with you.” I totally disagree. There may be very good reasons to reject a certain kind or genre of music as we shall hopefully study over the next few months as I find time.
He also mentions the idea that ‘you can reach people with music’ and his implication is therefore ‘so you should use music as a tool to reach people’. I am now of the opinion that this is a very dangerous position to take because I agree that music is, at the very roots, a tool: a tool of expression of the soul, a motivation tool, a tool of influence, a tool of worship, and many more applications. But if a tool is powerful, the person using the tool must understand what the tool is, the benefits and dangers of the tool, the right and wrong time to use the tool, and essentially be well grounded in the usage of said tool. To just throw a ‘Christian band’ in front of your church and ask people to participate in whatever they lead you to do is, in my opinion, opening yourself up to some problems. Refer to the ‘Problems with Christian Bands’ video above.
I believe that Ravi’s answer was more grounded and has within it the core issues that need to be addressed when discussing music.
Music is the Language of the Soul
Ravi said ‘Music is the language of the soul’ – and how correct he is. But this brings us to the most fundamental problem in the church today: no one knows what the soul is, let alone that there is a difference between the soul and the spirit! To get immediately educated on the topic, I recommend that you go and buy Watchman Nee’s “The Spiritual Man”. I regret so deeply that I had this book on my shelf for nearly 20 years and never opened it until now. Now and only now things are starting to make sense in the world as this teaching of body, soul, and spirit comes alive.
What is the Soul?
As a quick snap shot, the soul is composed of the mind, the will, and the emotions. Simple as that. But as it pertains to music, you will note that *unsaved sinners* all have a mind, a will and emotions! And herein lies the greatest danger – what is the *spirit* behind the music? Is the person leading you into worship even saved? Are they born again? Are you sure? Or, are they leading you down a pathway to *their soul*? And who is the master of their soul? Is it Jesus? Do you know? Are you sure?
I’m not going to pretend to scratch the surface of this topic but I hope that up to now I have spurned some ideas and that we will be able to walk down a very deep path towards truth on this topic of music in the church and in worship.
Frankly, this topic is a tough one which has recently occupied much of my thoughts. The two conflicting issues are as follows:
- Does the presence of an unbeliever during times of fellowship hinder the power and holiness of God (a kind of quenching)?
- Do we remain totally open and let any polite person sit in our midst regardless of their spiritual position, so long as they don’t ‘disturb the flow’.
In one or more of my recent posts I first alluded to my position of being, as of late, quite strong in favour of separation. My position was this:
- God called his people to be separate (you don’t have to look far to find this throughout the Bible)
- Most people I have spoken to have noted a ‘notable difference’ in both the presence of God and the effectiveness of their prayers when praying in the midst of believers (all) and in the midst of unbelievers (even some).
- At the very least an unbeliever, for their own health, should not be participating in communion (1 Cor 11:17-31)
Shortly after growing fairly cemented in my new position, I searched and came across this interesting discussion on the topic. Somewhere in the middle one person posted 1 Cor 14: 23-25 which says:
If therefore the while church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, his is convinced of all, he is judged of all: and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
This not only shows that an unbeliever might be in your midst, but also that a great result might come of it, if (in context) the group has some ‘holy order’ going on.
But, I can’t help but notice the word ‘if’. This word is not ‘when’. It is ‘if’. When is certain. ‘If’ is conditional as in the following examples:
I will give you the book when I get there.
This person is expected. The receipt of the book is expected.
I will give you the book if I get there.
This person is not fully expected. To count on receiving this book would not be wise.
So, even this scripture above does not convince me whatsoever that the believers were expecting the visit of an unbeliever. I read and interpret this scripture as follows:
If, by chance, while the brothers and sisters of light, who know and love the Lord Jesus are meeting together and doing holy things together (ie. studying the Word, praying, worshipping, etc) and someone happens to pop by who does *not* know the Lord Jesus, and has no fellowship with Him because the blood of the Lamb has not yet cleansed him, if the spiritual gift of prophecy is flowing mightily, this word of prophecy will come forth and convict this unbelieving sinner of his sin and he would fall to his face, repent, and be now able to worship the true and living God, and enter the fold.
I also interpret this to mean that if the spiritual gift of prophecy is not operating (and don’t deny that in most places it’s either not operating at all or operating in a weird way) that there is no provision to be able to move forward in unity since there is now the presence of one who, without trying to sugar coat things, hates God and His ways.
I am therefore still not convinced that the current practice in the Body of Christ of having an ‘open to anyone’ policy for group meetings is wise.
Of course, I’m expecting that any reader at this point has a little voice inside of them saying “Well how then do we win the lost if we can’t invite them on Sunday?”
That’s easy. You have an outreach focused meeting at your church building, if you so love meetings with unbelievers at your church building.
However, if I’m not even sure that that is the most effective way to win the lost. In this article I touch on that a bit. I feel it’s more effective meeting the sinner where the sinner is, rather than meeting them at the very last place they would feel comfortable – at a worship service.
Saints worship and love God.
Sinners worship themselves and hate God (although they deny it in many fancy ways).
In conclusion, I still stand fairly strong in my position that in general, with a few exceptions like the one above, that when we gather together to do God’s holy things (worship, prayer, Bible study, etc) that it should be the family of God – the children of light who are present.
For what fellowship does light have with darkness? (1 Cor 6:11-18)
Please add your thoughts as I seek God’s answer on this ‘tough topic’