In years past, music was the common bond
between denominations. When young people met together at
Youth for Christ or at all city sings there would be
musical unity regardless of the church represented. As I
travel across the country now, churches, even in the
same denomination, seem to have their own brand of
In recent years, books have been written on how to
promote church growth using a formula. The suggestions
are dismissing the choir, no longer using the organ and
taking the hymn books out of the sanctuary. Instead,
they say, use only upbeat praise and worship music with
an electronic keyboard, a set of drums and guitar. This
trend is going through almost all denominations.
My background in church music came very early. My
parents were in the ministry and I was constantly
exposed to church music. Having older sisters who played
many musical instruments gave me opportunity to be with
young people who met in our home for music jams. When
the praise music trend started, I was involved in
churches that pioneered this arena of music. This helped
to give me a love for many different styles of music,
and I realize they all have a place in the church. My
opinion is that music should be used to bring the
congregation to a place of worshipping the Lord and
preparing hearts for the message. Sadly, in many
churches it is bringing division and causing those who
appreciate a different style of music to feel
The Lord has touched my life through all styles of
music and there are many praise and worship songs that
affect me deeply. However, some contemporary praise
music is written without musical training, often missing
the melody, and frequently the text is superficial. A
familiar description for these songs is the "7-11" song
— seven words repeated 11 times. In pressing the new
formula on congregations, those who disagree with the
contemporary music are told they lack spirituality, and
that if their heart was right, there would be no problem
with accepting the new music.
There are additional problems for some in the
congregation with having to stand for long periods of
time. Sitting down draws attention to them, and they
feel their spirituality is in question. Many say they
deliberately come to church late to miss the music.
In addition, for those who are musically
inclined, there are issues with the way the music is
written. Having melodies that jump around and
complicated rhythms make it hard for everyone to
participate. Due to eliminating hymn books, and only
reading a screen for the words, the chance for learning
to read music is no longer available.
More than a year ago, I went for eight weeks
traveling to different parts of the country in various
denominational churches, and found I was not able to
join in the praise and worship music because the drums
were so dominant. The praise and worship team could not
be heard, making it impossible to know the melody.
Looking around, I noticed very few people singing.
Many churches are struggling with the music issue.
Some churches have split congregations by having a
service for contemporary music and a service for
traditional music. Other churches decide to have all
contemporary music and do not seem to care what the more
traditional congregation desires. The most harmonious
churches I have found are those that successfully blend
both styles of music in one service. Having leaders who
enjoy both musical styles and who know how to choose
praise and worship songs that minister to all ages
brings unity and not division in the church. When hymns
are introduced as special, not hurried to get them over,
but introducing the audience to the depth of the
message, it commands a spiritual experience for the
young and older generations.
Sadly, we find many pastors and people in music
leadership who have put a box around their congregation.
There is an emphasis that says anything but all
contemporary music cannot minister to their audience.
Experience has taught me they are wrong. I present many
different styles of music, and the Lord proves to me
continually that it is the Holy Spirit who ministers
through the music. When music is presented with
excellence, and most of all, with an anointing, the
style of music presented will reach the heart.