In short, you should care a lot.
But not for the reasons you might think.
Music is a dicey subject for many in the church. You’ve probably heard of worship wars? If not, it is as it sounds. People who call themselves Christians, who have been delivered from the domain of darkness, who have been set free from enslavement from sin, who have been saved from eternal wrath and damnation for their sins, who have been turned from rebels of God to adopted sons and daughters of God—these people then turn around and fight each other over how the music sounds during the time they are supposed to be worshipping God for giving them all of the blessings above.
Sounds a little like the kids who complain how long the car drive is on their way to the vacation of their dreams set up and paid for in full by their parents.
Maybe they’ve lost focus? I’d say so.
Many people have left churches over music style. “It just doesn’t move me. It’s supposed to move me right?” “It’s too slow…too old…too boring…to draggy. Why can’t we sing what the radio plays? That would attract more people, right?”
Now, to be clear: I’m not in favor of bad music. I’m not arguing for lifeless emotionless music. Music in the church can often drag. And, music in the church can often be done in such a way that it is more distracting than helpful for worship. Yes, some churches need to turn down the drums, but other churches need to ditch the banjo solo.
I’m not reasoning for lifeless worship. God created us as beings to worship him with our affections. The apostle Paul commanded the church to have all things done in an orderly manner (1 Cor. 14:40) The Psalter is full of heart-filled, life-giving, soul-stirring worship. So, where the music in a church is a hindrance to this genuine worship, we should look to correct and improve it.
But that’s not what people often mean when they leave or fight over music in the church. What people often mean is, “This isn’t what I like. This isn’t what moves me emotionally. This isn’t what I remember church being like. This isn’t what I want church to be like.”
And what’s the common denominator in the complaint?
I. Me. Self.
The complaint over music in the church is often a self-centered misunderstanding of what worship is to be. And at the root of this misunderstanding is a failure to understand who the music is for and how the affections are to be stirred.
Here’s the fundamental truth we need to remember when considering music in the church: The music isn’t primarily about you or for you—it’s for God. And the affections you seek don’t come from the style, environment, or quality of the music but the content of it. The affections so many seek in worship only come from the Spirit of God working through the truth of God, and yet, that’s what many misunderstand.
Don’t forget, it’s called worship—which means worship must have an end to it—something or someone we worship—and the end is God. We worship God through our singing. The music is for him. But functionally, when we complain over music style in self-centered ways, we reveal what the end of our worship truly is—I. Me. Self.
Jesus told a woman confused about spiritual things in John 4 that true worshipers of God will worship him “in spirit and in truth.”
This true worship Jesus talks about coming in our spirit will not come through human manufactured emotions but through the Spirit of God igniting our spirit to worship Him (John 3:6), and it won’t come by just any song content, but content centered on the great truths of God.
How much should you care about the music in your church?
You should care.
But your care should not be primarily focused on style, but essence. Focus on the truth you proclaim with your mouth. Meditate on such realities in your heart. Ponder anew what the Almighty can do. Care more about the truth of a song than its age—more about the sing-ability of a song than its style—more about what pleases the Lord than what pleases you.
And as you do these things, in a prayerful posture, you just might find yourself worshipping in spirit and in truth—with a heart full of affection and a mind full of sustenance—in an environment of joy!