Tag Archives: Solutions to the church music controversy

The Trouble with Church Music

6 Aug

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I'm a winner

Just mention church music in a group and you will see a variety of responses ranging from a shrug to a terrified shiver. Our enemy is having the time of his life ripping churches apart using this beautiful gift from God. If this were a game show, on the one side you have those who love hymns pitted against those who insist on a praise band with contemporary music. In the end, Satan is the only winner.

I have been mulling this for some time and decided to add my thoughts to the conversation.

Everyone in a congregation is a not singer. I once loved to sing, but my vocal cords no longer make a pleasant sound. A long singing session bores me. There I said it. Feel free to label me shallow.

Singing the same chorus over and over does not make me feel more spiritual. Do you remember the Beatles hit song, Hey Jude? It has three minutes of interesting material and the rest is just repetition.

Older persons in the church may be wearing hearing aides to better understand the pastor’s message and the feedback from praise bands going full blast creates misery for them. (I don’t wear one….yet. But my time is coming.)

Younger members live in a fast-paced world and find the slower tempo of hymns b-o-r-i-n-g.

So what can be done to use music in the church the way it should be, to unify the body of Christ in praise of their Savior?

Consider shortening the song portion or breaking it up throughout the service. Experiment until you find the amount of time that fits your congregation.

Become more creative in how we sing. I love Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone. By mixing the beauty of a hymn with a more contemporary sound, he created a moving and inspiring piece of music. I love it when the song director flows the music from one song to another telling the story of what Christ did for you and I  

Sometimes the praise band at our church would begin a song, but then the instruments were silenced and the incredible sound of voices praising God was so beautiful, I would stop attempting to sing and listen to the pure sounds of the congregation’s voices. I think if those with hearing devices knew they could expect something like this each week, it would give them a time to look forward to, rather than dreading the whole singing portion.

One of our larger local churches tried to solve the dilemma by having two services based on music choice. The obstacle to this was who has to get up early? The young people like to sleep in and the older folks take awhile to get moving in the mornings. My husband and I had to declare Saturday a day of rest and refrain from any heavy physical labor so that we could get our achy bodies to cooperate on Sunday morning!

This past weekend, I heard of a creative solution to the music issue. A largish church in Georgia holds two services simultaneously in separate buildings. One service begins with hymns and the other contemporary. The pastor preaches one sermon in “the flesh” (couldn’t resist that) and he is viewed on a screen in the other building. He rotates each week so that a group has him up close and personal twice per month.

It seems like months of thinking on this would have generated more ideas .My grandfather belonged to the Primitive Baptist and they don’t use any instruments at all. Maybe they are on to something. I’m sure you have some thoughts. How about sharing what your church has successfully done or ideas you have?


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