As I sat here writing this, I found myself once again in awe of how the Lord works in our lives. Even when we don’t see it, He is working. About this time one year ago, the Lord began something new in my heart and now it all makes sense. You’ll have to continue reading to find out.
As a worship pastor, I feel compelled to write the obligatory blog about music and the impact it has in our lives. I’m no fitness junkie nor am I a health expert, but I do know that what you put into your body directly affects it. Eat bad food… feel bad later. Drink no water…headache later. The same concept applies to other areas of our lives as well, like what we watch for entertainment and specifically for the purpose of this blog, the music we listen to and/or use to worship God.
If you haven’t already heard this from me, the most important thing when introducing new music to our congregation is evaluating songs for sound doctrine. We read about the Bereans in Acts 17 who eagerly examined everything against Scripture. In the same way, we’re called to that in our lives with the music we listen to, our songs of praise, and in many other areas of our lives.
Music is something that we internalize. It is something we not only hear, but we feel it. The words that we hear not only enter our minds, but they go to the depths of our soul. For example, when we listen to a song with bad language in it, we hear these words and internalize them. Even though we may not repeat those words verbally, we definitely think them in our heads. In the same way, when the songs we sing to praise Jesus teach the wrong ideas about Him or misinterpret Scripture, we run the risk of internalizing and believing them as truth. Just because it’s in a Christian or worship song doesn’t mean it’s completely biblical.
We have to guard our hearts even more so in today’s world. In the 1960s, Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) was born out of the Jesus Movement with additional origins in the Charismatic Movement. This was a drastic shift in worship music from the traditional hymns the church had been singing for years. Hymns and Contemporary genres both serve the church well and this isn’t the time to discuss how some Christians let their preference for worship music hinder their worship. That’s a heart issue and will take more time. The point is, both genres are valuable and offer worship to God.
One issue that came with CCM, though, was a drop-off in teaching theology through music. This isn’t to say that it doesn’t exist in contemporary music. This also doesn’t mean that there weren’t errant teachings in songs and hymns prior to CCM. A part of why these movements and CCM came about, was in an effort to break away from the way church was being done and to reach different people groups. CCM artists may have been more concerned about the new styles of their songs and their poetic phrasing than sound doctrine. I can attest to this in my own writing of songs when I first began leading worship in college. I wanted to write what I felt was catchy and because I was a Christian and the song was “for” God, I thought it was good despite stopping to consider if it was biblically accurate.
There are billions of songs around the world. There are probably hundreds of thousands of worship songs. We have to be careful to teach our congregation songs that carry biblical truths to our minds and hearts. And we, as individuals, have to be careful to consume music in the same way in our own lives.
About a year ago, I had no idea that God would be calling me back into ministry. In 2019, my wife and I were in the process of finishing our basement. As we painted coat after coat, we really enjoyed listening to podcasts and music together. One podcast in particular went into the importance of examining our music for sound doctrine, and for some reason, it really resonated with me. Song after song, I would continuously be thinking, “Hmm.. that’s not right. Where does the Bible say that?” Or, “Wow, this artist really took the time to write truth.” When songs show biblical support, it makes both the song and Scripture all the more interesting to dig into. Little did I know that God was working in my heart then as He’d be calling me to carry this responsibility for our church just six months later.
All said, remember this: Input equals Output.