What Music Do We Sing in Worship? And why?

If you define “worldly” as rock or rap music styles, certain hair styles, clothes, cars, boats, golf, football, food, etc… well then you include Jesus as “worldly.” Let me explain…

In Revelation 1, John describes Jesus as He is in heaven and it was nothing like he was on earth! Jesus left heaven and came to earth and did not bring His glowing face, amazing heavenly clothes, or glorious heavenly music. ” Jesus did not introduce the heavenly clothing line, the heaven sent hair cut, nor the Heaven Gates record label of out of this world special music.

He left it all there and became a worldly man wearing worldly clothes, worldly hair styles, singing worldly music, eating worldly food, etc and etc. Jesus left everything behind and we are told to do the same.  “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” [Phil 2:5-8 (NKJV)]

I am tired of the argument inside the church about “worldly” music.

1/ All the music that we sing, in all of the churches around the world, is worldly. It did not come down from heaven with Jesus. All of it was created by people in and of this world. Jesus did not give seminars on godly and heavenly music styles but sang the songs he learned from his worldly family, friends, and the Jewish people.

All people from all cultures create a huge variety of styles and sounds of music. And the Bible does not give musical notes, ballads or a written cantata in its pages. Psalms are words to songs, but no music is given! If God put the music in the Bible that He wanted us to sing we would have a clear revelation from God. But He left it up to us, the people who love Him!

God gives a new song in peoples’ hearts and old songs from 200 years ago do not prove special favor from God or superior godliness compared to the modern day church music. And check out history, the music style of 200 years ago was the same or similar inside and outside the church here in the USA. No one sang 200 AD style music in America 200 years ago. And, no one in the church 200 years ago sang the same songs or styles that Paul sang 2000 years ago!

2/ The Bible orders the church to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. God’s Word commands, “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.” [Col 3:16 (NKJV)] This is not a multiple choice question. We are told to sing all three types of songs to each other and the Lord. But the rhythm, musical notes, and style are left to us. The themes are given to us in the Bible, but not the music.

psalms = (psallo); a set piece of music, i.e. a sacred ode (accompanied with the voice, harp or other instrument; a “psalm”); collective the book of the Psalms :- psalm.—Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary

hymns = (humnos); to hymn, i.e. sing a religious ode; by implication to celebrate (God) in song :- sing an hymn (praise unto).—Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary

spiritual songs = SPIRITUAL (pneuma); non-carnal, i.e. (humanly) ethereal (as opposed to gross), or (dæmoniacally) a spirit (concretely), or (divinely) supernatural, regenerate, religious :- spiritual—Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary

SONGS (aido); a chant or “ode” (the genitive term for any words sung; while  (humnos) denotes especially a religious metrical composition, and (psalmos) still more specially a Hebrew cantillation) :- song.—Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary

The three types of music are describing content, not musical style. If we sing a psalm it is the words of the psalmist set to music with musical instruments for worshipping, crying and praying for help, remembering God’s promises, etc…

If we sing a hymn, it is actually praise and celebration music by definition, which is not what people think today. Most think a hymn is from hymn books of old Christian songs still loved by church people today. But this is a  false conclusion and those old tunes are not why the songs are sacred, but instead, it is the themes and words. The modern movement of praise and worship music is actually the heart and definition of a hymn.

And, spiritual songs include a variety of themes outside of praise and worship music, such as testimony songs of God’s salvation, invitation songs to follow Jesus, creeds and confessions, songs of victory over the devil, etc.

Because you like old fashioned hymns does not make your taste spiritually superior to your fellow brother’s taste. But instead, we are told to love each other, and build up each other in the faith.

Remember these words, “For though I am no man’s slave, yet I have made myself everyone’s slave, that I might win more men to Christ. To the Jews I was a Jew that I might win the Jews. To those who were under the Law I put myself in the position of being under the Law (although in fact I stand free of it), that I might win those who are under the Law. To those who had no Law I myself became like a man without the Law (even though in fact I cannot be a lawless man for I am bound by the law of Christ), so that I might win the men who have no Law. To the weak I became a weak man, that I might win the weak. I have, in short, been all things to all sorts of men that by every possible means I might win some to God. I do all this for the sake of the Gospel; I want to play my part in it properly.” [1 Cor 9:16 (Phillips NT)]

3/ What does music have to do with reaching the lost? Who is really spiritually superior? I bet the Christian who gives up his style and blesses the immature and guests with wholeheartedly singing music, in their style. By every possible means, I surrender my likes to win the lost. No one is talking about sinning, you must stop hiding from change by claiming it is “worldly.”

During the 1800’s in America the same type of music was sung inside and outside the church. It was what everyone was familiar with. Try starting a church or change your music in your church by playing traditional Chinese music in the average American town and see who comes. Try playing modern American music in English in China and see who would come to church. We change and do all things to win some!

That sounds like Jesus to me! He did not start a new “Christian music” invasion in Israel, like the Beatles did in the U.S. in the ‘60’s, but instead preached the word of God. There is no record of nations changing their music styles after Jesus came to earth, but like a hurricane, there are amazing  stories and events of people changing all around the world as they stopped their sin and joined the church in a brand new way of life. Salvation flowed through cities as people’s hearts were healed, justice grew, conflicts waned, neighbors cared, and crime slowed. Jesus’ words and teaching spread like wildfire because that was important and people repented and left sin.

Historically, the Christians from the different cultures kept their music. There was no change in music styles, clothing, etc. The Jews still dressed the same and sang Jewish style music. The Arabs still dressed the same and sang Arab style music. Same with the Chinese, Romans and Greeks. So I ask, do you love your local world enough to sacrifice your likes to win people to Jesus? Or do you ignore them and hope there are some Christians in some other church who will do that?

4/ With so many types of music what should we do? Listen carefully to the Word, “When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.” [1 Cor 9:22-23 (NLT)]

Common ground in music style is essential! To drive everyone away from your church, except a handful, because of your music style or your church’s music choice is not what God intends. Remember  “love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.” [1 Cor 13:4-5 (NLT)]

Surveys here in south Florida found over 50% of the population would never visit a church with old-fashioned piano and organ music. We changed!

Look at the community you live in and find out the cultural music style of the general population, their likes and what they would tolerate. Build common ground! What I mean is, if you love and want to have a “rap” worship experience and only two people in your town listen to it, and 99.9% of the population hate that music and find it disgusting, then well come on, you get it.

Unless your love has turned to selfishness, you prove your love for the lost by finding common ground with them and not insulting or irritating them. Music is a tool to glorify God, and a tool in the hand of a slave to serve the weak and for teaching and admonishing one another. It is not a hill to kill or die on.

You do love your community, and trust God’s Word is true, don’t you? I do!

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