Music in the Christian Church Service

First, we must consider what is most important regarding the elements of the song itself. The words or lyrics of the song bring the message. The music itself creates the “mood” on which the words are embraced. The music is basically the “platter” on which the words are served.

If the music drowns out the words, the message of the song is lost and the song is merely entertainment and nothing for the heart. This is fine unless the songs that are being presented are presented for a purpose. The music in a church service must achieve its purpose in a short amount of time.

I find that there are three types of music. First, you have music for entertainment. Second, you have music for praise. Finally, you have the music of worship. My purpose is to apply these forms of music specifically to the Christian church service.

Much of Christian music on Christian radio falls into the form of entertainment. The words are “God honoring” and positive. Lyrics are about life and how God works in our lives. Christian music focuses on God and directs us to God. The lyrics tell us about ourselves or explain the attributes of God. Sometimes the lyrics can be just plain pure fun and entertaining.

The music comes in many forms to please the ears of many types of people. Different types of music move different types of people. We tend to be creatures of habit and we cling to traditions that were started in our youth. As we grow older we tend to grasp onto the past including our desires for types of music.

Thus we have generation chasms in tastes for music that entertain. Does this make one music type wrong and another music type right? I think not. A type of music becomes wrong when one individual forces their music type onto another. We must be sensitive to each other in the love that Jesus called us to embrace.

Praise music draws a group of individuals to honor or praise. In this case I am focusing on the praise and honoring of our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ; God, the Father; and God, the Holy Spirit. The music must have lyrics that remind us of God’s attributes, promises, and past blessings. Praise music is intended to draw the group to praise. Praise music is not intended to be simply entertaining.

Choosing the correct music is an important task. The director must be very aware of the type of people that are attending the group. The director must provide a mixture of music types during the praise period that will lead and draw all the participants into a time of worship. The sole purpose of the church music director is to use the period of praise music to usher the group into a time of worship.

What is worship? Most of our churches name the music period as a time of “Praise and Worship”. This is true, but most times the service never enters a time of worship. Worship is a time when a person personally reverences Almighty God. This indeed is the most important time of our Christian service next to the reading and teaching from God’s Word. The time of worship breaks the hard soil of our hearts to receive God’s Word. We see how important this is in the parable of the sower of the seed.

How does music work in the time of worship as described above? Music is intended to lead the group to the doorstep of worship. I believe that music plays an important role during the time of worship. Again, the music director must sense when the group is ready to move into a time of personal worship. At this time the director must create a musical “backdrop” for the worship and personal praises of the people.

The music must be at a volume low enough to allow the workings of the Holy Spirit to be exercised. Remember, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman and will not overpower and will not move unless invited. I believe this requires that the music volume to be just barely heard among the worship and praises of the people. The type of music should be “soft” and flowing acting as a “wick” to continue to draw the group into continued worship.

In this environment the Holy Spirit will be able to move people in the group to exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The music should cease in reverence during these “movements of the Spirit” or be played extremely slow and soft. As soon as the Holy Spirit has finished the “backdrop” of music should continue to draw the group into continued worship. The Holy Spirit will be able to reveal and convict of sin, enrich and draw people closer to God, and soften the hearts of the people preparing them for the message to be given. This is worship.

The leader or pastor must be sensitive to this time of worship. I believe churches, today, are too concerned with schedules and do not allow a time of worship. The leader must sense when the “majority” of the people are “ready” for the message. This is a wonderful moment and the sweet savor of worship moves the congregation to the sweet taste of the Word of God.

The question of music “in the church” is a question that challenges the ages and generations. Some prefer this type of music and others prefer that type of music. I do not believe the type of music is as important as the purpose of the music in the church. The purpose of music in the church is to draw the people to worship as mentioned above. I described the role of music during the worship period. Will any type of music draw the group to worship in a church service?

I mentioned above that the Holy Spirit is always a “gentleman”. During worship the group will become loud, but this loudness is the praise and worship of the people. The praise and worship of the people is a “sweet smell” to God. The sanctuary is an extremely “holy” place when God’s people fill its space. I believe this demands a sense of reverence and this requires sensitivity to the Gentleman, the Holy Spirit of Almighty God.

This reverence requires that we choose our music wisely. I believe the music that will draw the particular group to praise and ultimately to worship is the music to be played in the sanctuary. The music director must choose the type of music that will move the attending group to praise and ultimately to worship. As the group moves from praise to worship, the music must be played slower and at a reduced volume regardless of the type of music. If not, the group will find it difficult to enter into worship.

We must pray for our music directors as they pray for direction. Let’s pray for the worship of the church. Remember, the particular music will not particularly please each person in the particular service. Each person must lovingly accept the direction of the music director for the given group. Each person should understand the ultimate purpose of the Christian church service is to enter into worship. Let’s focus on our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ, and enter into sweet worship together.