Student Opinion – Modern contemporary worship music is not fruitful
Bethel Music, Hillsong Worship, Elevation Worship and other well-known Christian contemporary groups are popular among churches. Each release new songs that can lead to healthy worship of the Lord. However, should the music that these groups release be sung during worship in the context of the local church?
Bethel is well-known not only for music but also controversy. Whether it be gold dust that falls from the ceiling when the worship leader hits that high note or when Bethel Church Senior Pastor Bill Johnson takes the weekend off to grave soak, Bethel has prompted several disputes over questionable theology and unconventional beliefs.
If a Christian is knowledgeable of these controversies, I believe it can be a serious distraction from the real worship of Jesus Christ. Your stance on the matter does not change the amount of distraction.
I could be standing in worship, hear a Bethel song and think to myself, “Wow, we’ve hit the deep end, and this song was written by some heretics.”
This is a far-fetched thought. Bethel believes in the one gospel that is sufficient to save lives, but believers can still face challenges in glorifying the Lord through worship when thinking about something else like the music’s origin.
On the other hand, I could think to myself, “Oh great! I love Bethel! I’m sure those stoic Reformed Baptists are unhappy.”
This thought is still a serious distraction. Either way, the believer’s mentality should be solely focused on praising God for his character and what he has done to bring glory to himself. Many solid pastors, including John MacArthur, have come out against the distractions of these churches’ movements.
Another downside is the music’s hinderance to the church mission to have fellowship, worship and learn through song and exposition. Large music groups have a huge fanbase to cover, which means their lyrics must be exponentially simplified to fit the broad spectrum of listeners.
This can be a problem because the songs are not only simplified, but the theology in the songs is also simplified, which can lead to a shallow time of worship. I have seen churches that worship to these basic songs and thrive, but I have also experienced biblically illiterate churches worshipping to the same music.
This type of Christian contemporary music is not as fruitful as other forms of music. If this world were perfect, we would be singing Scripture.
Since this music changes its lyrics to fit a certain demographic, it’s easy to throw in lyrics that are either flat-out incorrect or biblically questionable, such as “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong Worship.
While the song is filled with the truth of the gospel, there is a lyric that doesn’t fit too well: “You didn’t want heaven without us, so Jesus you brought heaven down.”
When I first sang this song, this lyric rode my train of thought for a while. The lyrics, thinking grammatically, could be understood as support for a man-centered gospel. It could communicate the idea that because we were so desired by Jesus in our excellence, in our earthly bodies or whatever it may be, he brought heaven down to earth. So instead of focusing on God glorifying himself through an imperfect and sinful people, the lyric focuses on something else.
Keep in mind, it is just the possibility of the lyrics being interpreted this way. I am not saying everyone will think in this manner.
Of course, any music sung within the local church should be decided by the worship leaders designated by the congregation. Nevertheless, it would be wise to study the lyrics and take controversies into account to provide a time of worship that leads to God’s glorification and the body’s edification.
DuVall is an opinion writer for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on Twitter