That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life...
Philippians 2:15-16a

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Some Things that Bother Me about Contemporary Christian Worship Music

Tomorrow night there's a fairly big-name Christian Worship artist putting on a concert in my town.  His concert is not at a church, it's actually at the performing arts theatre downtown.  I don't live in a very large city, so the fact that he's coming here to do a concert is probably a big deal to a lot of people.  I wouldn't know.  I don't listen to his music.  In fact, there's a lot of things that bother me about this kind of thing.  

First of all, you have to buy a ticket to see him perform.  I get that these people have to live, and this may be their source of income, but if what they are doing is Christian ministry, does it not seem a bit like they are making merchandise of the things of the Lord?  I imagine the expense of putting on such a concert is quite significant, but the tickets certainly aren't cheap... $25 to go and worship God!  Since when do we pay money to worship the Lord?  I don't know.  Personally, I think these types of concerts and events are more about the money than the worship.   Maybe I'm just cynical.  However, this guy will probably be selling more than just tickets.  There'll l likely be CD's, tee-shirts, and who knows what all else.  We Christians seem to spend a lot of money on these types of things, maybe to the neglect of our churches and the work of the Lord??

Then there's the whole MUSIC aspect of the concert.  I've written about that before here, so I'll try not to repeat myself.   You know, I've listened to worship music.  I've sung it. I've played it.  I'm not just blowing air when I talk about music.  I've been on both sides of the Christian worship music scene. I'm a musician, and I'm NOT against using music to worship the Lord.  The world has taught me a lot about music, but God has taught me some things about music too. Music is about emotions, but music used to worship God should NOT primarily be about an emotional response.  Music to worship God should be about worshipping God, and the fact is I'm supposed to worship God whether I FEEL like it or not.  There's some days when I sing in church, and get no positive emotional response out of the singing. In fact, there have been times when my emotional response to the music in church has been negative.  Yet, the songs are biblical, holy, and give glory to God.  Does my lack of feeling something about the music mean that music isn't worship music?  NO!  That's why it's very dangerous to measure the appropriateness of worship music by a positive or negative emotional response.  Sometimes our emotions will be right about the music (positive or negative), but sometimes they will be wrong.  Emotions can be helpful, but they cannot be trusted as 100% accurate.  Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Only God and His Word are 100% accurate, and that's where our trust should lie.

Another thing that bothers me about this music, is the theology of many of the songs and of the song writers.  The artist that is performing in my town tomorrow is affiliated with the Vineyard church.  The Vineyard church has all kinds of whacky theology like Holy Spirit slaying, and manifestations of supposed indwellings of the spirit including barking like dogs, screaming, uncontrollable laughter, weird tongues, shaking, rolling on the floor, etc.  Unfortunately, I couldn't even find a statement of faith either on the artist's site or his church's site.  Neither could I find a plan of salvation on either site.  Maybe these things don't bother other Christians, but they raise some red flags in my mind. 

There's a lot of "world copying" that goes on at these types of events.  I've seen the poster around town advertising this concert, and honestly, by looking at it you wouldn't know it's Christian.  You wouldn't even know by the title of the concert that it's Christian.  The only reason I knew it's supposed to be Christian is because I know someone who listens to this guy's music.  If we've been redeemed, born-again, forgiven, saved, our lives should look different from those who haven't.  God has worked on my life so much regarding this issue.  I can't get away from it.  Christians are to LOOK different than the world.  We really are!  I'm not preaching some legalistic, rules based, type Christianity when I say that.  We're SAVED!!!  We're on our way to heaven.  We know God!  He forgave our vile, wretched sinfulness, and gave us a new nature.  Someone has said that the Christian's life may be the only Bible an unsaved person ever reads.  If our lives are copying the world what kind of picture of God are we giving unsaved people?  Honestly, this poster was just another example to me of how much Christians today are LIKE the world as opposed to being different from the world.  I bet if I went to this concert (which I won't) it wouldn't look much different from a secular concert.  It'll likely have the same lighting, the same sound, and the same party atmosphere.  Sorry to sound harsh, but to me that just doesn't add up with being a new creature in Christ.

Probably what bothers me the most about Contemporary Christian worship music is the glory given to the performers.  It seems like everyone is talking about this great singer, or so-and-so's new amazing CD.  I'd be interested to go to that concert tomorrow night and just see how much devotion and praise is given to the performer.  I'd be interested to stand in the lobby after the event and listen to people's comments.  Do their comments exalt the singer, the performance, and the music, or do the exalt God?  I've seen firsthand how much credit and glory people give to a performer.  Honestly, sometimes it crosses a line into idolatry.  Maybe I'm cynical, but a lot of Christian worship music seems to be more about the performer and the money than it ever is about Christ.  I daresay that the "gospel" message given at tomorrow night's concert will be vague at best.  There'll probably be no mention of sin or repentance.  Will a Bible verse be quoted?  I don't know.  I've heard supposed gospel presentations before with no Bible in them.

Am I being judgmental?  Many will likely think so.  I do not judge whether or not these people are Christians.  Only God knows their hearts, and if they've truly repented of their sins and put their faith and trust in Christ.  However, I can judge their works based on the 100% accurate standard of God's holy Word.  I can judge what I see.  I can judge that I will not be part of that concert.  I can judge that I will never spend any of my money knowingly on the Christian music industry because it is rife with false theology, idolatry, and people consumed by making money and being popular.  

Since I saw the poster for this concert, I have been praying that God would open the eyes of the people who will attend to some of the things about this event that are not pleasing to Him.  I've been praying that someone's heart will be stirred to see that worshipping God is not about music and an emotional high, but that it's about holiness and truth.  I believe God will answer that prayer!


  1. My only comment is have you ever paid to go to a retreat, camp, or ladies weekend? Be very careful about hypocritical judgement.

  2. My purpose in writing this is not to debate about money. It's about drawing parallels between a supposed "Christian" event and a secular event. This event is SO much like a secular rock concert, and the tickets was just one more aspect of that. Where I see the hypocrisy is in a Christian event that's no different than a rock concert.