In the early stages of what you are about to read you may think I am advocating throwing all the hymnals into the dumpster and auctioning off all the musical instruments – this is not what I am saying and never will be.
Let’s get started.
Recently, I attended a gathering of about a dozen pastors. We were from several different denominations. The group was rather diversified; there was only one other Baptist minister, other than myself.
A thought hit me, and I blurted it out to the crowd, “What do you think would happen if we announced that next Sunday would only be a preaching service – no music – only preaching? Do you think attendance would drop off?”
The initial response was interesting, smiles, laughter, smirks, a rolling of the eyes, one pastor replied, “I could only wish.” Another said, “I don’t know about the first time, but if we did that for a month, I don’t know if we would have anyone left.”
Music is vital to the Christian experience. Most churches at one time or another and many on a regularly scheduled basis have services that consist of only music without any preaching. Why is it few, if any churches have the reverse?
The music in churches varies widely. Some nearly have a full-fledged orchestra; others have a band. Some of these bands are playing a more rock and roll style, some a country or southern gospel style, while others, well, I am not quite sure what they are playing. Many churches are more traditional with only a piano and organ. While other churches, lacking anyone with the ability to play an instrument, use recorded music to accompany the singing, others go the a capella route; often with a song leader that couldn’t hit a note if he was in a boxing ring with one.
Tastes of music also range widely from person to person. The preference in types of music is so important in churches today that many churches have split their services in two; offering both contemporary and traditional services.
Years ago I was part of a church with split services, but not because of music, but because of space. The congregation had outgrown the physical building of the church. Having two services on Sunday morning was only temporary until the problem was solved. Most people would address this issue by building a larger auditorium or constructing a new building altogether. The Lord’s solution to our particular problem, however, was to start another church. Acquiring a building about ten miles away, about a third of the congregation began meeting there and evangelizing in that area. Soon there were two thriving churches instead of one split between two services.
Honestly, I do not understand Christian unity in an individual church when “they have their services, and we have ours.” Who are we pleasing at that point, people and their taste in music or God? What would happen in a church with two separate services because of music announced that “Next week we will only have one service – there will be no music only preaching.”?
What about you as an individual? If the style of music changed would you leave your church because of it? If church services only consisted of preaching would you join such a church or stick around if that became the norm in your church?
Again, I am not advocating eliminating music from our services. The Bible expresses how God’s people will sing when they gather together. What I am asking is – how important is the preaching to you?
Why is it services containing only music have better attendance that regular services with both music and preaching? That question leads to an even larger question – why do we come to church in the first place? Entertainment? To receive a personal blessing? To serve and worship God
Lastly, I would like to state – there is no such thing a Christian music; there are only Christian lyrics. Amazing Grace is the same song if accompanied by a 1600s type pipe organ, or an electric guitar, or a banjo, or a harp, or a tuba. If a song about God, commonly called a hymn, brings joy to your heart, the lyrics should bring the same joy, regardless of the instruments behind it. After all, God did say to come to Him and “make a joyful noise” (Psalm 66:1; 81:1; 95:1; 95:2; 98:4; 98:6; 100:1).
Preacher Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County Indiana. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.preacherjohnson.com. E-book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TUJTV2A If you email, inform me where you have seen Preacher’s Point. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.