‘I don’t enjoy their church’s singing-style’ — Hugh Wetmore

One of the most influential factors which people take into account, when deciding which church to attend, or even to join, is ‘the church’s music ministry’.  And there’s such a range to choose from: from hyper-conservative churches where the hymn-and-a thing led by the organ music style of the 1950s must be retained at all costs … to the hyper-charismatic churches where only 30-minutes of non-stop contemporary music style of Hillsong is worthy of singing … and then there’s everything in between.

Let’s face the fact: no church will ever satisfy the preferences of every person. People are different.  They come from different ethnic or generational backgrounds. If we try to please everyone we will end up pleasing no-one.  Let’s examine these differences and preferences further …

In our human natures, twisted by the Fall (Genesis 3), we are SELF-centred.  We like what we like, and that’s the way it is. A whole economic science is based on this: it is called “marketing”.  Experts research what the public, in its various categories, want.  Then they design products to fits the wants of the various categories of public.  And the product sells well – within their categories.  Not across them! 

Some churches have adopted this approach, especially in their music.  “Music” is perhaps the largest variable in Cultural identities. It is the generational cultural taste in music and song that most easily divides churches.

So much so that some churches have separate Sunday Services — one for the oldies in the mornings, and another for the younger generation in the evenings.  And so, the Church, the Body of Christ, seldom (if ever) meets together. 

Jesus prayed earnestly that our unity as His Body should be visible, so that the watching world would know that the Father had send Jesus to express His love for them (John 17, especially verses 20-23).  His pain must be deep when He notes the divisions between churches, and especially the divisions within churches.

So how do we express the unity of the Church, especially in the culturally fragile area of music and song?  There is a deep the cultural chasm between charismatics and reformed churches expressed by their differences in sung worship.

If it is impossible to reconcile musical styles, how can we reconcile at all?

I place another perspective before you: we must stop trying to win the approval of the people, with their divergent song preferences.  We must win the approval of God.  That’s how the apostle Paul overcame divisions based on personal preferences:

“Am I trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” –Galatians 1:10

This month, and in the following worship columns of Gateway News this year, we will ascertain what kind of music and song will please God.  His desire is best expressed in our well-known Scripture — Colossians 3:16. 

One Comment

  1. Thank you, an interesting message. Lord teach us to worship you. Our songs. our hymns are all to honour you, to reveal our hearts and our love for you. May worship not become an issue but rather a symphony of love expressed in wonderful and different ways.