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“Worship with us…our band is AWESOME!”
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“Worship with us…our band is AWESOME!”
If I’ve heard this kind of thing once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. The
talented musicians are often the main draw for many church attendees.
I once heard a man who taught music at a Christian college speaking on
what he called a “counterfeit anointing.” He explained that the loud
decibel levels used by many churches during worship is enough to raise
goose bumps and cause many to “feel” differently. What’s referred to,
he explained, as “the anointing” is merely physiological changes occurring
within the body when exposed to really loud music. If you’ve ever sat
next to a car where the bass from the stereo system was loud enough
to rattle YOUR teeth, it’s guaranteed that the driver was having some
kind of a “feel good” experience right there behind the wheel.
Many are do the same thing in their pews.
MUSIC OR NOT, DOES IT REALLY MATTER TO GOD?
In most instances, the American Church has reduced what we call “worship”
to a Sunday morning sing-along. For some Christians, such as the church of
Christ, woe unto anyone who worships God with music. Yet for others, if
there’s no musician in the group, no one dares to attempt singing a capella
(without instrumental accompaniment) and, therefore, no worship will take
place at all.
I was baptized in the Duncanville, Texas church of Christ, a group in which I
remained for about 8 years. I recall experiencing some very moving moments
of worship there. I’m not sure if God enjoyed it, but I did! I learned a great
deal about worship during my 8-year stint. The church of Christ, for those
who don't know, is a group that, with few exceptions, does not believe it’s
acceptable to play music in church services. These days, I can worship God
with a kazoo, or a kickin’ praise band. I can make a joyful noise to any kind
of music or none at all.
I was never quite in agreement with the church’s stance that music was not
permissible in the service. After all, I reasoned, we are The Church – each
Christian individually and as a family, 24/7, everywhere we go. If that’s true,
why did it matter what we did in one manmade human structure on
Wednesday’s and Sunday’s as opposed to what we did in any other manmade
structure all the rest of the time?
For those who think the church of Christ is "strange" or "odd" for believing in
this way, here are what some others throughout history have had to say about
the playing of musical instruments in their church services:
McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia reads: “The Greek word psallo
is applied among the Greeks of modern times exclusively to sacred
music, which in the Eastern Church has never been any other than
vocal, instrumental music being unknown in that Church, as it was in
the primitive Church."
Sir John Hawkins, in the History of Music, makes Pope Vitalian, in
A.D. 660, the first who introduced organs into churches. But students
of ecclesiastical archaeology are generally agreed that instrumental
music was not used in churches till a much later date.
Thomas Aquinas, A.D. 1250, wrote: "Our Church does not use
musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God withal,
that she may not seem to Judaize."
John Calvin wrote, “Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God
would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of
lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law. The Papists,
therefore, have foolishly borrowed this, as well as many other things
from the Jew. Men who are fond of outward pomp may delight in that
noise: but the simplicity which God recommends to us by the apostles
is far more pleasing to Him.”
John Wesley said, “I have no opposition to the organ in our chapel
provided it is neither seen nor heard.”
Charles Spurgeon, when asked why, in the twenty years he preached
in London, never used the organ in worship, cited 1 Cor. 14:15 and
said “I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the understanding
also, I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
I would as soon pray to God with machinery as to sing to God with
Adam Clark wrote, “I am an old man, and an old minister; and I here
declare that I never knew them to be productive of any good in the worship
of God; and have had reason to believe that they were productive of much
evil. Music, as a science, I esteem and admire; but instruments of music
in the house of God I abominate and abhor.”
Personally, I contend that WE are the "house of God" and that nowhere
in Scripture has God condemned the use of mechanical instruments of
music in Christian worship, but nowhere has He commanded their use.
It is man, in his desire to please God, who has introduced so many rules
and regulations to Christian life and practices, not God Almighty.
ACCEPTABLE ACTS OF WORSHIP
Why do so many from my old church of Christ camp forbid music within the
church? Many use Ephesians 5:19 as an edict forbidding the playing of musical
instruments during church services: "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns
and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” Question:
When was the last time anybody walked up to you and spoke a psalm, a hymn,
or a spiritual song? As for me, in almost 50 years, never. That "make music in
your heart" portion is the key prohibition aspect of that verse. For those who
might refer to any Old Testament verses pertaining to music to justify the playing
of instruments, apparently, the God who is the same yesterday, today and
forever has changed His mind regarding music under His NEW Covenant. My
experience has been that such OT verses will be disallowed in most churches
of Christ where the subject of mechanical instruments is concerned.
Then I learned that the word “pslam” literally means “to pluck.” Pluck what…
a chicken? Eyebrows? I think not. We pluck harps, lyres, guitars, banjoes
I recall once knocking on the door of a man who led worship at a Church of
Christ. He and his family had a bluegrass band and were practicing with the
door open as I walked up to knock.
There was an awful lot of plucking going on in that house as I approached.
These days, fully believing that WE are The Church in everything we do or
say, everywhere we go being the holiest “Holy land” in which we could
ever imagine standing, I see the lunacy of teaching that music in a church
building can be any more right or wrong than music played in the building
called a “house.” The only dwelling place God is concerned with, frankly,
is the one called US!
The truth is, everything we do is an act of worship. Even the act of Work
itself is actually Worship. The Hebrew word "avodah" is the root for
the word from which we get the words “work” and “worship.” Work, in its
many various forms, is mentioned over 800 times in Scripture. That’s more
than all the words used to express worship, praise, music and singing
combined! As a Workplace Chaplain, I often find myself reminding people
of the fact that they are worshiping God while they work.
THE PURPOSE OF WORSHIP
Let’s focus on that wonderful music we all know and love to hear at church
services or on our favorite CD or Christian radio station. What is the purpose
of all this worship music? Is it intended to usher us into God’s presence? Is
it working? Is it worship at all? Is it all about Christian musicians earning
money with their gifts? Just asking. That’s between them and God, after all.
In a church service, is a Worship Leader in charge of ushering us into God’s
presence as some attest? I can’t buy that because God lives within ME and
doesn’t even show up until I get there.
When I was the Assistant Pastor of a church in Arlington, Texas, a couple
was asked to lead worship and train our “worship team.” I wasn’t there, but
later heard that the first thing they did was to tell the group, “Put down your
instruments…we’re going to worship God.” I heard that several within the
group began crying, finding themselves clueless, frightened and frozen
without their instruments.
We were created to worship God. I dare say that it’s our reason for
being, more an attitude of the heart than something we do with our
vocal cords or even with our instruments. After all, if it’s all about
singing – just another way of worshiping God - one who is mute or
retarded or has laryngitis cannot do so. God, as always, is more
concerned about the condition of one’s heart than the words being
mouthed, no matter how beautifully.
Following is a fascinating article from a website Ezine called “Next
Wave-Church and Culture. The article is entitled “Worship as Evangelism”
by Sally Morgenthaler.
Sally had previously written a book entitled “Worship Evangelism” but
has actually recanted her own book’s message, concluding that worship-
driven churches are doing nothing to reach the lost. Read it and pass it
along. Quite thought-provoking stuff!
One of those who responded to her article wrote: “Thank you for this.
As the pastor of a year old church plant, I have watched our group
struggle through the hard work of realizing that worship evangelism …
doesn't work, but only manages to bring the dechurched back to
church (not a bad thing, but not the same). The fact is, there is
a level of "affirmation of message" that has to exist for a person
to be able to worship. The idea that any type of worship that affirms
"Jesus is LORD" would attract those who aren't sure He is (or are
quite sure He isn't) is a bit absurd. If, then, worship is more for the
already convinced than the unconvinced, we must create a better way
to engage the unconvinced…this conversation has, in many ways,
defined our church plant … Whether it is the decision to have house
churches on Sundays and worship on Wednesdays or giving up on the
idea of "getting people to go to church" and instead "being the church
and going to people", this is a conversation every
church needs to be having."
John 4: 23, 24 declares, "A time will come, however, indeed it is
already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the
Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just
such people as these as His worshipers. God is a Spirit (a spiritual
Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in
There's so much more to worship than we've made of it. It's worthy of
Are YOU a TRUE worshiper? It's an attitude of the heart and nothing else.
Please forward to at least 5 friends!
A servant of God
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Reader Count & Comments
19 Oct 2007
This was an incredible article. I learned so much, and you tied everything together so perfectly. Thank you for submitting this, especially since most of the worship pieces I've read lately have been contained to 750 words. :0
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