A true reason for faithfulness to gather with the congregation of the Lord is to join the congregation in singing to the Lord. Recent government actions target singing in particular, seeing it as non-essential. Some churches have argued it is essential. Why is it essential though? What would be the argument for singing being essential in a church? Some of what I've seen in either evangelical, fundamentalist, or even separatist churches doesn't seem essential. Representing what's happened, the Sacramento Bee said at one point this summer:
The mandate, issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials a week ago on July 1, seemed destined to be combated by churches, especially those that consider singing particularly essential to worship.
On the other hand, an online magazine, The Conversation, defends continuation of singing in church:
When people sing, sound runs through the body, giving rise to emotion and facilitating transformation. It acts as a natural antidepressant by releasing endorphins, the feel-good chemical. Studies have also linked singing with improved mental alertness, memory and concentration through increased oxygenated blood to the brain. Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg found that changes in the brain during worship make people “nicer, more forgiving, and trustful.”
This sounds like what many churches think they're doing today with their singing. It's not scriptural, but it is typically self-centered. Later the same article said:
Those with praise teams and bands that lead the congregation in song found it easier to provide music in online services – with fewer people, social distancing was easier to maintain. As a result, they continued to rehearse and perform in livestreamed or prerecorded services.
The crucial text here is that these teams and bands "provide music." They are providing music for an online audience, not God. Nowhere does scripture say that church leaders should provide music for its members. Members provide music for God.
Consequence of a Change In Direction or Audience
Worship is vertical. That's the direction -- up. It goes to God. It's like incense from the altar of incense, going upward into the nostrils of God. Because of that, the question is whether God will accept it. It must be, as Romans 12:1 says, "holy, acceptable unto God." When Nadab and Abihu, two priests, messed with the incense recipe, God killed them. That's how serious He is about what goes up and into His nostrils.
When the music sung or played clashes with the nature of God, because it isn't being offered unto God, but unto an audience of men, it changes God in the imagination of the people involved. They imagine a god who would find it acceptable, but if it isn't acceptable to God, then it is the wrong God. This turns into idolatry, worship of a false god.
Worshiping the wrong god arises out of worshiping the wrong way. To start, it isn't really worship, because it is centered on the people. So think of it. The people are the object of the worship. They are the false god. This is worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator, a Romans 1 violation.
People then imagine a god that is more like people. Guess what? Their false god receives regular sensual and fleshly offerings, all about desire. This church music that is "essential" isn't even accepted by God. It is "essential" to gratify the lust of the singers and the true audience, themselves and their fellow worshipers of self.
The nature of music in churches has changed drastically in the last century. It has a considerable impact. God doesn't get worshiped. The people don't understand God. I believe it alters a true understanding or imagination of God more than a doctrinal statement. It results in the acceptation of many other bad practices.
Churches don't even like what God likes. If they had to offer it to Him, they would be so upset that they would quit. They can't worship Him. They can't sacrifice their own feelings. It's about them and not God. Church leaders very often know that, so they just relent to keep their crowd for even worse reasons.
Today, feelings are choreographed or orchestrated by the music. They are feelings that do not match up with the God of the Bible. The "worshipers" very often think that feeling is the Holy Spirit. Since they got that feeling, they think or better feel they are aligned with the Holy Spirit. This changes their understanding of true spirituality. Even though they aren't spiritual, they think they are. They go along either without the Holy Spirit or not controlled by the Holy Spirit, and yet they are deceived into thinking they possess the Holy Spirit or are controlled by Him. They are very far more prey to deceit of all kinds.
Sensuality becomes a value to those using it. They feel justified then in being sensual. They've been using it in church, so "it must be fine too in their everyday lives." I'm saying, their values change.
Values relate to God. He is of the highest value. All that is true in value proceeds from the right assessment of God. Without God as a true value, the values of a person change. This changes his practice.
The consequences I've described have completely mutated the church into something of a different nature than what God wants it to be. God isn't being worshiped. That's very bad. It's bad enough. However, that won't get fixed because the church doesn't consider the effect.
Churches are more like the world. The world is fleshly and sensual. This allure to the flesh is a characteristic of apostasy in 2 Peter 2. Read that chapter. False teachers use these allurements to deceive. Instead of turning the world upside down, the world has turned the church upside down. John wrote that the love of God does not abide in those who love the world. James wrote that friendship with the world is enmity with God. Rather than being a true, pure relationship with God, it is spiritual adultery, where the church prostitutes itself with the world.
It is no wonder that the world gets worse and worse. The church isn't salt or light. If the church is going to be superficial, banal, trite, and crude, then why wouldn't the world become that much worse? The world is exponentially more ugly than ever in my lifetime. Churches pave the way.
The church isn't centering on the one and true God in its singing and playing today. Why is it singing? It isn't for a good reason or in a good way.