Thursday, December 26, 2013

What the Worship War or Music Issue Really Is About

I've been talking about the music/worship issue here for quite a few posts, and will continue next week, Lord-willing.  We can go back and forth about how someone judges what is wrong and right, or whether someone can even judge what is wrong and right, but ultimately that's not what this is all about.  In almost every case, it's impossible for the two sides to come together, because it isn't about what the two sides even argue about.

The music/worship issue is not about one side believing there is a standard for God, that lines should be drawn, and that the other side, after much study and prayer and concern, doesn't see there being a standard or lines to be drawn.  One side does believe there is an objective standard, does believe that lines should be drawn.  The other side has mainly three other reasons for where it's at.  First, for many, they just want to listen to and play whatever music they want.  They really like their own music, and they don't want to give it up.  They conform their version of Christianity to what they like.  That's now acceptable, so why not?  So, one, people don't want to give up their own music.  Related to this, they don't even want to be judged for their music.  They don't want to feel guilty about their music. Usually there will be anger here if they're even judged.  They want complete acceptance and complete toleration with no judgment at all.

The second reason is all about numbers.  Churches use all the forms of pop music as a church growth method.  It has worked a lot.  Related to this directly is money and success and "God's blessing."   The church uses the music among other similar means of amusement, they get bigger, the offerings are bigger, more money for the leaders, they are recognized for success, and there is the assumption that this is God working somehow.   The music is huge, even as Rick Warren has said in his Purpose Driven Church book.  It's key to the whole deal.  If they don't start with the music or give it up, the numbers go way, way down.  They shrink exponentially.  It doesn't even work.  These people wouldn't even be able to continue without the music.  It's that important.  It's more than the music, but the music is pivotal -- a necessity.  Obviously the numbers relate to what people like, so one and two go together.  These churches allow whatever dress, music, entertainment -- generally, what anyone wants in the world.  They encourage it -- it's a big part of their religion.

The third reason is the bigger picture -- coalitions, sales, parachurch, etc.  If you judge someone is wrong, you're out of the club.  This is called unity, but it really is just getting along.  The huge coalitions are held together by toleration and acceptance.  This expands the audience for music and books.  The colleges and seminaries can keep their numbers up.  The less restrictions, the more inclusion.  More and more can get along and you can keep up the big national and worldwide coalitions.

Those are the three things that this music issue is really about.  It's not about what the Bible says.  It isn't about what will honor God.  It isn't.  It never has been.  The side I'm talking about in the worship war didn't start with a study of the Bible or a concern over some kind of apostasy on music, because of the overtly restrictive standards.  It started with what people like, which related then to getting bigger, first locally and then nationally.  The discussions about whether it will honor God or what the Bible says begin on the side of those with music standards.

If you have a church without music standards and you have a church with music standards, the one without is almost always going to be bigger.   If it doesn't matter, why shouldn't everyone go to the church with no music standards?   Why not have God and the music that you want or like?  The churches with music standards should just send all their people to the ones with none.  On the other hand, if they are going to be distinct from those churches with no standards, they are going to tell you that those churches are wrong.  They are going to take a stand and tell you they are wrong.  What else would the churches with no standards expect?

I believe there is a lot at stake here, because the music/worship issue is much bigger than what the churches with no standards will say.  People's view of God is shaped by the music.  The church becomes like the world and there becomes little to differentiate.  It's only getting worse.


James McEntire said...


Anonymous said...

Huh? Can someone explain to me how these gals are praised for being countercultural, but we are ridiculed?