Posts tagged ‘Worship’

April 11, 2012

Has Church music morphed into prayer?

One of the most obvious things about the modern church is that music has a very high priority in our services. I’ve noticed over my 25 years of being a Christian that the music used in church is changing, not just in style but in purpose.

A couple of centuries ago church music was not just used to inspire people but also to teach theology.  The teaching emphasis made sense granted that many people in the church were illiterate.  Their were no mid week bible study groups, no Christian bookshops down the road, no Christian input outside of what happened between the processional and the recessional on a Sunday morning.

In this era there are huge resources available to a congregation that is not only literate but online as well.  So whilst the teaching aspect of music in church is still useful the imperative to do it is not as strong.

Church music seems to have morphed into prayer.  Teaching is now primarily done through the sermon and mid week programs such as home groups.  We used to sing about God, but now we sing to God. One example of this is a song we used to sing in the late 80’s at my Anglican Church.  The original music for this song was written in 1882 and the words of Psalm 46 were put to it in 1912. The first verse sang “God is our strength and refuge…”. Today instead of singing ‘God is our….” we sing songs that begin ‘You are my…..’.  One of Hillsong’s first big “hits” in the early 90’s was ‘You are my rock, you are my Lord’.

I’m sure that there are examples that go the other way as well. However, I think that  this has been become the trend.  Overall church music, especially in the Pentecostal circles which I’m a part of, it has turned into a time where the congregation directly talks to God.  People are meant to engage with God and enjoy a prayer time that is not just accompanied by music but is meaningful, reflective and inspiring.

So – is this change a good thing or not?

Both approaches have strengths and weaknesses.  It’s never a bad idea to learn theology to music.  The great thing about modern church music where the congregation sings to God is that it forces the attendee to have some time with God that is not focussed on their personal needs.  Our prayer times can often be where we present God with a shopping list of things we want.  When we sing at church we have to address God for maybe 20 minutes where our focus is on Him, His glory and His love.  Our shopping list does not come into it.  That’s a good thing.

Corporate prayer to music where we focus on God’s greatness is powerful.  It gives you perspective.  The things that you were worried about when you were walking through the car park 30 minutes ago are no longer as important because your attention has been drawn to the greatness of God and you are professing your love for him.

Do you think I have described the change correctly?

What are the pros and cons of the change?

John

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