NOTE TO READERS: A confession… I was going to take a completely different tack with this post. I was going to be critical of churches that didn’t fall in line with the way I think about this subject. However, I got convicted and have reconsidered. The following is based on my own personal beliefs. I return you now to your regularly scheduled blog post…
As a music pastor, I have one of the best jobs in the world. I mean, think about it. My job is to pick out and present music that glorifies the God of creation and the Savior of the world! I get the privilege to lead people to the throne of our Maker so that they may praise His holy name. I have many songs to choose from that honor our God in three persons, the blessed Trinity.
In fact, I have so many options, I can’t think of a single reason to use a secular song in a worship context.
As unpopular as my opinion is in some circles these days, I can’t help it. Singing songs that, from their very conception, have as their goal the adoration of God Almighty provide me with more songs than I will ever have the opportunity to sing this side of glory.
When Christ Jesus is the subject of a piece of music, it automatically trumps anything the world can produce. Why would I accept second best?
Granted, the Christian music of a generation ago left something to be desired stylistically. I used to say that “Contemporary Christian” music was about 10-15 years behind the style currently being played on pop radio. But even back then, its purpose was preferable (for the most part) to its secular alternatives. Currently, style is no longer an issue. Christian artists are pushing the envelope of modern music, and are no longer bringing up the rear. And our Savior is still the loftiest ideal about Whom to write music.
Music is one of the most intense gateways to emotions and memories. The reason movies have soundtracks is to bring about an emotional response or to trigger a memory of a past era or event. It seems to me that using a secular song to tie in with a sermon illustration or even sung (with a lyric changed here and there) invites a worldly perspective into a spiritual encounter. I would even go far as to say that care needs to be taken when using a secular tune with Christian lyrics, as some may associate a worldly memory or experience with the tune.
I don’t mean to imply that church is a lofty gathering based on the humans present. But I personally have enough trouble focusing on God through my Adamic point of view. I don’t need Top 40’s influence contributing to my distraction.
I get the idea. And I’ve occasionally considered applications. Ultimately, I believe what Dr. Jerry Falwell used to say: “If it’s Christian, it ought to be better!” What we have is as uplifting and positive as is possible. He is risen indeed! Christ died for us! He is faithful and true! Praise the Lord! THAT’S what OUR songs are about. And it kicks whatever Coldplay is singing about to the curb.
A brief note about reaching the lost. I am passionate in my concern for the lost. I am also a firm believer that worship is for worshippers. Whatever a church does to get someone to come is what she will have to do to get them to keep coming. And there is plenty of the world out there in the world. I believe we need to give them Jesus within our doors and trust Him to change their lives so that they can truly sing to Him.
This was hard to write. Just so you know.
I appreciate those of you on Facebook and Twitter that offered their opinions on this subject.
I’d love to see some lively (yet tasteful, please) comments. I welcome differing points of view on this.