There has been something that has been on my mind for a while now, and I feel like it is time just to organize them, write them down, and see if I can get other's opinions as well. I might ruffle some feathers (big surprise there...OK, I KNOW I will, hahaha) but as you read this (if you read it), remember that this is MY thoughts and opinions...you will have yours, and you are entitled to them! So (big breath) here goes!
I was raised in a very conservative church. We sang the old hymns (which I personally love), did everything in the same order every week, dressed up, and basically did everything "by the book" (whatever that book was). There is absolutely nothing wrong with that way of worshiping as long as your heart is genuine, you are truly worshiping the Lord, and aren't stuck in a rut. It's just not for everyone! I was in a church like this pretty much until I was married. Then the Lord moved me and my husband to a church that was VERY different. Not bad, just different.
Our new church is vibrant, exciting, and casual. We love it. I personally feel closer to God as I truly worship Him. Sometimes I feel like this is truly the first time in my life where I have really worshiped God. Yes, our church has a band. Yes, we sing contemporary music. To me, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as your heart is genuine, you are truly worshiping the Lord, and aren't stuck in a rut (hmm...sounds familiar). Different people worship in different ways! David danced before the Lord, and I'm pretty sure there were those around him that criticized him and shook their heads...was David wrong? Were the others wrong? I think no! David was worshiping God in his own way. The others worship in their own way.
Now I come to the big question for me...is it appropriate to use music that is considered "secular" in a church setting. I know, I know, touchy subject. TOUGH subject! But here are my thoughts...and they are conflicting! First of all I have read a lot on this, read other people's opinions. And honestly, I see both sides! One thought is, when a preacher is reaching, he will use quotes, stories, etc. from secular people/sources. Is that OK, or not? I say yes, it's fine...there are many many inspirational people that have lived/are living in our world. They may or may not be Christians. But their words might be just the right thing for the Holy Spirit to work in someone's life. So why shouldn't music be that way as well? Another side to it I found is (and I tend to agree with this) is that music in the church should be first and foremost to praise and glorify God, and to prepare hearts for the receiving of His word and the Holy Spirit. That being said, I wonder how a song about things you want to do before you die, or being afraid of something but doing it anyways, has a place in worshiping the Lord. Yes, they are inspirational songs, and yes, they talk about maybe what the sermon is going to be about, but are they truly pointing the crowd to thoughts of Jesus? When I personally hear a song that I know is country, or soft rock, or whatever genre it comes from, that gets my mind away from church and God, and I start thinking who sings that, what other songs do they com etc., and then my mind wanders. And if my mind wanders away from Christ, then how will someone who is either a new Christian,or maybe not even saved?
More opinions as well, what about if a secular person sings a song that's a Christian song (which is kind of a generic term in my book)? Case in point, one of my favorite songs, How Great Thou Art was performed recently by Carrie Underwood. Or even say Elvis singing Amazing Grace. To me, it is ultimately about the words. Words speak to the soul. And if someone as popular as Elvis or Carrie Underwood is going to sing a song that praises the Lord, someone who may not ever step foot in a church would hear that song, and the words might go straight to their hearts. God will use whatever avenue He chooses to net His word in a heart.
Now on to Christian music. As stated before, I am a lover of the old hymns. They speak to my heart in a way that I cannot even begin to describe. But I am also a lover of the new praise hymns that are being written today (Chris Tomlin being a favorite). But there are Christian songs that are being performed today that are so shallow and self-driven, that I wonder how they can be glorifying to God. Or the "Christian" music that is so like punk rock, loud and screaming, that I wonder how the words can even be understood! But I remind myself that while it may not speak to me, maybe (miraculously) it will to someone else. Opinions.
Finally, I am a believer that church should be a place where you walk in, feel God's presence, and focus solely on worshiping Him and immersing yourself in His Word. And I will be the first to admit that many times I am so distracted that this does not happen. So many things get in the any of my fellowship with God. To me, chug should be church, not a concert experience. I am SO not against concerts, believe me! I LOVE them! But there is a time and a place for that, and FOR ME, it is not at worship on Sundays.
So there you have it! My opinion in a (very large) nutshell. I know there are people that disagree with me...great! Form your own opinions! I'm all for that. But don't criticize me for mine. ;-) But I pray that what I have written will cause you to think about these things, and really get an understanding on what is OK/not OK for you. If nothing changes, fine, if you feel things need to change, fine too! The most important point I am trying to solidify in my mind, for ME, is what worship truly means to me.
P.S. After thinking overnight about what I wrote, I thought I would share some of the verses that have been floating around my heard concerning this.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Psalm 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.
There are more, but I can't remember them all now, and I will add them as they come to mind!