Music is an important part of our services at Long Hill Baptist Church. We understand that our goal in worship is to please the LORD (Rev. 4:11). The Bible does not directly define a style of music that is most pleasing to the LORD. That said, because our genuine desire is to please the LORD, it's wise to search the scriptures for guidance in our approach to every aspect of our services – including the selection of music.
What may we understand from Scripture?
1. We sing in our services because the Lord instructs us to sing to Him!
(Colossians 3:16) “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord”
Above, we see that the purpose of singing in services is to (1) “to teach and admonish” and (2) “to sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord."
Our music should promote unity around sound doctrine rather than stylistic preferences;
We should not use music that either teaches error or is likely to cause confusion about doctrine;
We should avoid music that is more likely to encourage emotion than sound doctrine;
We should avoid music that encourages prideful focus on self (grace is the unmerited favor of God!).
2. Our music should encourage a worshipful attitude in the presence of God.
Revelation 4:10-11: "The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."
Matthew 18:20: "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
Implications: Our music should promote a spirit of humility before our holy God rather than a desire to be entertained.
3. Our music should encourages worship in spirit and truth.
John 4:23-24 "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Implications: We should avoid music that emphasize or encourages an emotional response over genuine worship. A strong emotional response may be from God – but certain styles of music have more potential to counterfeit genuine worship in spirit and truth. Arguably, music that emphasizes a sensual beat tends to encourage a response that is more sensual than spiritual. As such, we should avoid the sensual beats that are typically present in rock, pop and similar styles.
4. Our music should be consistent with our call to holiness / separation from worldliness
1 Peter 1:14-16 "As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."
1 Peter 2:9-11: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;"
2 Corinthians 6:17-18: "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
Implications: (1) Our music should be different than the world’s music. Visitors should hear a distinct difference between our music and the wicked music of the world. This excludes all styles that are typically associated with sinful themes, e.g. rock, pop, hip-hop, country-western. (2) Our music should reflect a commitment to ecclesiological separation, i.e. separation from unbiblical “Christian movements.” A large portion of so-called contemporary Christian music (CCM) music has originated in Pentecostal / Charismatic churches. “Shout to the Lord” was written by Darlene Zschech, an Australian Pentecostal worship leader. “Majesty” teaches the Pentecostal “kingdom-now” theology.
5. Our music should be consistent with the Lord’s desire for decency and orderliness
1 Corinthians 14:40: "Let all things be done decently and in order"
Implication: Avoid musical styles that tend to promote disorder.
6. Our music should be consistent with our call to avoid placing a stumblingblock before the brethren
Romans 14:13-14: "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way."
In summary, our music should …
... teach sound doctrine and reflect grace in our hearts;
... encourage a reverent attitude (reverence before the special presence of God);
... encourage worship in spirit and truth vs. counterfeit worship / emotionalism;
... be consistent with our call to holiness / separation from worldliness;
... promote an atmosphere of decency and orderliness;
…avoid placing a stumblingblock before the brethren.