Whether it’s the main event or in the background, music plays an important part in our lives. It’s a gentle soundtrack while we’re shopping, at the coffee shop, or even in an elevator. Or other times, we spend hundreds of dollars to experience music with hundreds of our closest friends at a concert hall.
Movies without music are emotionally bland. Working without a soundtrack is depressing. And driving in silence is most often a sign that you and your spouse got into an argument.
Music’s important in life. But it seems to have an almost sacred role in the church. Why is that? Yes, historically, there are reasons. Even biblically you can make a case for music in our churches. But why does music matter so much today? It’s more than just that God told us to make joyful noises – though that could be enough. There’s also a powerful opportunity music provides our churches in today’s context.
It is a vehicle of truth.
Because of music, we know there was a drummer boy at the birth of Jesus. We know there were three kings from orient far. We know, contrary to Biblical teaching, Mary might have had no idea what her divine pregnancy would produce.
Of course, none of those statements are true. But you only know that because you’re biblically literate. Many in your congregation aren’t. They firmly believe those things about the Christmas story based on the songs they’ve heard.
Music is a powerful vehicle for information. We have the opportunity to communicate truth through the music we use in our services. Believe me; it’ll stick in the minds of your church – the songs you sing.
It is the language of deep truth.
More than just the words in the music, there’s a deeper truth found in music. It’s the truth of love. Of pain. Of the human condition. Joy. Sadness. All of these truths are found in music. That’s why music – music that carries that depth of emotion – grabs people and makes them pause. They listen. They lean in. They open up.
I had a friend in college whose boyfriend stole CDs from Christian bookstores. He wasn’t Christian. He just knew nobody was expecting anybody to steal from the stores, and it was his way of getting music. He listened to Christian music all day.
As horrible as that story is, that guy found that the deep truth he could relate to was found in albums whose lyrics he completely disagreed with. It opened him up to the lyrics because he related on a primal level. Music isn’t just an ice breaker…it’s a thawer of ice in people’s hardened hearts.
It builds us up while building God up.
I’m convinced God cares less about the styles of music we sing or play and more about the fact that we sing or play in the first place. See, He delights in the praises of His people. Whether rap, rock, country, or classical, He wants us to sing to Him. He gets joy from it, but guess what: He wants us to get joy from it too.
Music is one of the few things that can be used to worship and also build up the worshiper. By singing a beautiful melody wrapped up in truth, our souls are nurtured. Our minds are renewed. And God gets praised.
Music matters in the church because of truth – whether in word form or emotional form. We worship God in spirit and in truth, and He’s okay when the emotions get mixed in there. It’s part-and-parcel with music. Is it sacred? Not really. What’s sacred is the truth that’s communicated in the music. And that can happen a million ways through a million different styles in a million different contexts. Music matters. Truth matters. And together they are amazing.