I have heard the chief complaint of the reformed style (I think anyway) Baptist church we attend is the music, from those who have tried it instead of our former seeker friendly “not emergent but not NOT emergent” church. What exaclty is the problem here?
In our new church we sing great hymns, some I have never heard before. It’s simple, at the start of the service there is a small set of music. There is a young man who leads the music time, and he plays a guitar. There is a young woman who plays piano. We do not have hymn books, which I miss and want, but I understand since there is a deaf population in our church and using an overhead style can help them sign to the words. There is no drum, the music is not loud or driving. People who can sing well are of a more chorale style. The rest of us just do our best.
I know the first few Sundays I felt a bit off singing. It felt a bit faster than the former church. Nothing is really repeated, but hymns are sung the whole way through, with all verses. It is meaty, and often difficult to sing along with when you’re not used to it. However, in singing this way week after week, I have begun to really pay attention to the poetry and the words. The music is of higher caliber and the lyrics are intelligent. No repetition of “open the eyes of my heart Lord (what does this mean anyway?) I want to see you…I want to see you…I want to see you…(slower now) I…..want…to…see eeeee youuuuuuuu.”
We don’t dance, though I do move because well, I move when I sing. We don’t clap. There’s nothing wrong with clapping, I like it. We just don’t do this in our newer church. I don’t think I’ve seen hands raised either. I don’t ever do this myself, but no songs call us to kneel or raise hands….there’s no suggestions like that in the music. It’s all about God and not our response to him.
I personally really enjoy the hymns. I also hear my children singing them at home. It’s deeper in meaning, actually more theologically correct. The music challenges the mind and is for worship. It’s not about entertaining and whipping us into an emotional frenzy. I like not being manipulated.
I’m not saying having a drum set or playing music in a contemporary style is wrong, I do not believe this. I do think though that many churches are missing discernment when they plan a playlist. One example I can think of is the many songs brought into the church that come from heretical thought. The beliefs of those writing the music is important. There are many songs with lyrics that lack depth or appear to be love songs to a lover rather than a worship song to Christ. There are songs written by men who are of questionable theology (I can think of a group like Phillips Craig and Dean who subscribe to Oneness Pentacostal doctrine). The songs are brought in as worship but the meaning is lost on the congregation. So many groups cross over and use one another’s songs, so it’s really hard to judge.
To me, it’s important that the messages from the pulpit are true. It’s also important that the music be true. It’s all important.