Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Music Worship

There is a meme going round at the moment to name one CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) song that you find unbearable and explain briefly why.

I've had a think and I've decided that I'm not going to get involved with this meme for a number of reasons.

Firstly I want to say that I am not someone who finds it very easy to engage with music worship in general. I could live without it. There are hymns and songs from old to new that I appreciate, but I could happily live out my life as a follower of Jesus without ever engaging in music worship.
That said I also want to say that I appreciate there are some excellent worship songs out there that do enable people to point their lives to God.

I think that this meme is a too critical and too easily attacks individuals.

I recognise that there is a whole marketing and conveyor belt of Christian music out there and that this in itself is deeply worrying. I recognise that music worship has done a lot of damage to how people engage with God. I recognise that music worship has pushed out the reading of Scripture out load in our churches, and that is a great travesty. I recognise that music worship has reenforced why people assume faith and feelings are one and the same thing.


I also recognise that music worship has helped people orientate their lives towards God. It has helped people seek God and given them hope in times of real despair. I believe modern music worship does have its place in some of our churches and that it can be a real gift and blessing to the church community.

I know the whole 'worship leader' debate rages out there, but I do think there are some who have a gift and calling from God to enable people, through music, to point there lives to God and to recognise that worship is about God increasing and us decreasing.

Theology matters. Theology enables us, by God's Spirit, to go deeper into the wonders of who God is. Good theology will lead us to the living God and will send us out to live as faithful disciples. Bad theology will lead us into idolatry and will disorientate us in our journey with Jesus.

So music worship needs to have good theology. And it is important to push for this in our churches.


All our theology is inadequate. What we say about God never fully grasps the depth and reality of God. It is like standing with a bucket under Niagara Falls. What's in the bucket is beautiful and sacred and to be celebrated. But there is still a whole waterfall.

So we should strive for good theology in our music worship and good practice too. But we also have a God who is far more gracious and loving than we dare conceive or imagine.
And there will be moments up and down this country this coming week when God will reach beyond our inadequacies and by his Spirit enable us to worship him.
And the beauty is that we are all diverse and different. For some CCM will help them worship God. For others it won't.

But whatever the medium, whether it is mission, music, the sacraments, Scripture, the goal is Jesus, to point to him and to one day find our goal in him.


Tom Haward said...

I do wonder though, does a meme like this serve a positive purpose too? After all, there are some dire songs being written and performed in churches and highlighting the crap might start pushing it out.

As you write, there needs to be good theology in the music used, but too often apathy about theology sets in. I do remember the Free Church being very reluctant to address the rather dismal music because the people were sincere, who did it. In fact, it hindered a lot of people in worship.

Do memes such as the one circulating help to move drivel out of churches?

Joe Haward said...

I do not know if it will to be honest. The reality is many churches are very comfortable with their theology and worship, so when you seek to challenge it there are many obstacles.
I challenged people on the doctrines of creation, redemption, scripture etc and a lot of people listened, even agreed, but stuck with their previous theology.

The meme might highlight the rubbish, but these songs will stay in our churches.

Remember the post I did about trying to get a Christian song to the top of the charts and how I d=said it was a waste of time? Well it was a waste of time but people are continuing to try and do it again this year. They tried to do it at christmas. Even if something does not work, many people will blindly carry on because of a mindset. Often is the same with music and theology...

BanksyBoy said...

Greetings to you down in the West! Great post Joe... I do have some thoughts which I will try and collate.

I have actually become more tolerant in some ways, but I do find the industry 'conveyor belt' deeply disturbing, possibly even one of the devils deceits.

Sincerity is really important but even that can be misguided, see my latest post which, sadly, draws even more attention to the very stuff we are complaining about, which your bro alludes to in his comment.

I will expand on why I think music is transformational, not for everyone, as you point out, and I believe I can give a compelling comparison to another sense as well as hearing.

Will let you know...



Joe Haward said...

Cheers Peter.

I agree, sincerity can be completely misguided and the church needs to wake up to those who are quite frankly completely misguided!

Things do need to change, not just with music in church, but in many other ways too. The extent of that change is being argued up and down the country I'm sure.

Good to hear from you mate.

Cameron Thorp said...

I have just blogged about these issues. Theology in musical worship.

Have read if you like.