A Different Perspective on Music
(The following article is by a member of a religious group that unscripturally uses mechanical instruments in worship to God. While he continues to worship in an unauthorized way, his reasoning on the subject is worthy of our consideration.)
I’m part of the Independent Christian Church segment of the Restoration Movement. I’m also a minister of music and have published Cantatas for our fellowship. I only share this so that my criticisms of instrumental music might be heard from my perspective. While I see no biblical imperatives in regard to this question, I would point out the following advantages of a cappella (without instrumental accompaniment - TN) worship.
First, it tends to maintain the central players in worship as the congregation rather than the “performers” up front. When the music of worship is the music of the church itself, it seems less likely that we will move from worship to watching worship.
My boyhood church has evolved from one “special in song” to four or five specials in a worship gathering that takes no longer than it did 30 years ago. As you would imagine, it is congregational singing that has been drastically cut. The worth of a particular service is, many times, gauged by the quality of these performances. Applause is not merely tolerated, it is expected.
On the extreme, I am aware of churches that hire members of their “praise band.” I heard one minister of a growing Christian Church on the West Coast share at a public seminar on church growth what a wonderful thing it was that some members of their praise band had even become Christians. I am aware of young talents moving to certain cities and joining particular churches so they could get their “start” in the Christian music business.
Second, it tends to preserve times of silence within corporate worship. My church feels obligated to not allow a single moment of silence. My time at Abilene taught me the value of regular times of silence in worship. I do not need my moods programmed at every moment. I do not need the equivalent of elevator music to provide me with a sense of the presence of God.
Third, it tends to preserve a simplicity in worship that may be increasingly attractive in our complicated age. I am baffled why some within the church of Christ would pick this time to move toward inclusion of the instrument in worship. Just because there may not (in my opinion) be scriptural grounds to reject it, does that automatically mean it is a good idea? Doesn’t the growing attraction of everything from a cappella secular music to Gregorian chants give indication that less may be more and that simplicity and times of silence may have an attraction as great as the “big performance”?
To my friends within the church of Christ, I would encourage you to think long and hard before you would join us and the rest of the evangelical world in this area that so clearly impacts the entire worship service. The grass may not be greener on our side after all.
I find myself wishing that, at least once in a while, we’d close up the piano, turn off the organ, unplug the guitars, and just see what would happen.
Preacher’s point — In the first paragraph the writer says, “While I see no biblical imperatives in regard to this question,...” That in itself out to be enough for us to leave instrumental music out of our worship. Peter says, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). Singing is a form of speaking (Eph 5:19) and must be done according to God’s word and by the authority of His name (Col 3:16).
In the next paragraph Lawson says, “When the music of worship is the music of the church itself, it seems less likely that we will move from worship to watching worship.” We come together to give, not to get. We are here to give worship, not to get entertainment.
What does happen when we leave out the piano, organ, guitar, etc., and we simply lift our hearts and voices in praise to God? We can truly say that we are worshipping in spirit and truth (John 4:24).