I have a concern with some of the “worship” music that is being written for churches today. And no, I am not going to go on a rant about style of worship and which instruments should and should not be used in the church (music itself isn’t actually worship since worship means to ascribe worth to something or someone). I actually dont have a problem with electric guitars, keyboards, or drums. One of my favourite worship albums is by a guy named Dustin Kensrue who is also the frontman for the rock band “Thrice”. The album has all of those instruments and I love it. I do believe that these instruments can be played in a way that is not appropriate for a church service, but that is another discussion for another time. No, the problem that I have with much of our modern worship music has to do with content. In all honesty, the majority of popular contemporary worship music is lyrically shallow. Im not saying that they aren’t biblically true. With the exception of the songs that call down fire from heaven and the ones that ask for God’s presence to flood the building (charismatic songs) etc., most of them do have biblically true lyrics. But is that the only requirement for a song? That it is true? Some would argue yes. But let me ask you a question: is the only requirement for a sermon is that it is true? Certainly not! The Bible is clear that preachers should preach the whole counsel of God(Acts 20:27). You can preach many “true” sermons, just on the topics you like, and only cover a small portion of the Bible. Also, a preacher can say a lot of true statements without ever plumbing the depths of the Word of God. We can be fed spiritual milk all of our lives while God intends for us to be feasting on spiritual meat. We can all be stuck on “elementary principles” when we should all be able to teach the Word of God to others(Hebrews 5:11-6:2).
If we are members of a solid Bible-teaching church that teaches the whole counsel of God (which we all should be), we should be growing in our knowledge of God: His character, His desires, and His ways. If we are growing in our knowledge of God, then we are growing our worship vocabulary. The more we know about God, the more that we can praise Him for. The Bible says that He saved us for “the praise of His glorious grace”(Ephesians 1:6) Christians should have a greater vocabulary of worship than anyone in the history of the world has ever had. In fact, Christians should have a greater vocabulary of worship than even the angels do. Why is this? The Old Testament prophets wrote about the grace that was to be given to us, but they did not understand at what time, or through whom, or in what manner this grace was to come. And the angels long to look into our salvation (1 Peter 1:10-12). Perfect beings, such as angels, cannot experience the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God for they have no need for it. Christians are the only ones who have a full understanding (as far as what God has revealed to man) of God’s redemptive story. The signs, symbols, pictures, and shadows of the Old Testament were fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus (Matthew 5:17). We have a greater understanding of God’s character and His plan to save mankind than anyone else in heaven and earth ever has.
Yet if you were to attend a “worship” service at many churches today you would never be able to tell this. They sing that God is great, but not the reasons for His greatness. They sing about God’s love, but they don’t sing about the height, depth, breadth, length, and width of the love of God. They sing about how He has saved them, but they won’t sing about the condition from which He saved them!(Ephesians 3:18-19, Ephesians 2:1-9, Psalm 145).
Churches have allowed their time of singing to be filled with songs written by musicians who are still swimming in the theological shallow end. Are the songs sinful? Usually not. But, if God has gone to the effort to reveal the fullness of who He is and what He has done, is He not worthy of worship that praises Him for these things? Of course He is! He is worthy of songs that rejoice in the depths of His love, in His multifaceted work of salvation, and for all the reasons that He is great. We need songs that represent the rich theology that we should be hearing from the pulpits. The more that we learn about God, the more that we ought to be praising Him for.
You may not like the style of music that hymns are set to, and that’s fine, but there is one thing you cannot deny. Some of the richest, most praise inspiring songs are tucked away in dusty hymnals in the churches storage room and they have, in many cases, been replaced by lyrically shallow, entertaining songs written by professional musicians. Im not against all changes in musical style, but I am absolutely opposed to a watering down of the content in church music. God is worthy of so much more. Praise God that He is reviving the theology of many churches, may He also grant us revival in song. May He receive all of the glory, honour, and praise that Is due Him.