Question:

I read your blogs and, I don't know, maybe if you read this you could help me. My church is filed with elderly people (40+). This year the number of our youth has been growing. God has been good and has been blessing us with incredible services. But a lot of members criticize all types of music they don't understand: RNB, hip-hop, Reggaeton, etc. It made me feel bad when someone with a position in the church said Reggaeton and church don't mix. That it is not godly. I was surprised. Some songs touch me deep. Some songs make me want to praise God more. How can that be the "devil's" music? I'm so disappointed in my church. They are becoming religious on what a Christian should look like, act like, see and hear.

What would you advise about this? I'm actually a youth leader. That's why I'm disappointed in the older people.


Answer:

"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:10-11).

I smiled to find out that at the ripe age of 50, I'm now lumped in with the elderly crowd. I don't know where time went. I was just 47 when I received my third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and now I have one foot in the grave and possibly out of touch with today's youth. ... But enough teasing.

The style of music used in worship is not specified in the Bible. But some styles lend themselves well to singing and others do not. Where God places the importance is on the words.

"And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God" (Ephesians 5:18-21).

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:15-17).

You might be surprised, but instrumental music is a relatively recent innovation in the denominational churches. 150 years ago only the Roman Catholic church used instrumental music. Everyone else recognized that they were not authorized by God.

“Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law. The Papists, therefore, have foolishly borrowed this, as well as many other things from the Jew. Men who are fond of outward pomp may delight in that noise: but the simplicity which God recommends to us by the apostles is far more pleasing to Him.” (John Calvin, Commentary on Psalms 33).

“I have no opposition to the organ in our chapel provided it is neither seen nor heard.” (John Wesley, Adam Clark’s Commentary, Volume 4, page 868).

“I am an old man, and an old minister; and I here declare that I never knew them to be productive of any good in the worship of God; and have had reason to believe that they were productive of much evil. Music, as a science, I esteem and admire; but instruments of music in the house of God I abominate and abhor.” (Adam Clark’s Commentary, Volume 4, page 686).

Charles Spurgeon, when asked why, in the twenty years he preached in London, they never used the organ in worship, cited I Corinthians 14:15 and said “I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the understanding also, I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. I would as soon pray to God with machinery as to sing to God with machinery.”

But sadly people are more interested in pleasing men that seeking to please God. "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10). People wanted what God didn't authorized and so God was left behind. The emphasis on all Christians blending their voiced together to teach each other in song has been lost. People are only interested in being entertained, not in participation. I suspect that you are more touched by the mood of the tunes than the significance of the words in most of the music you are using -- the opposite of where God said the emphasis ought to be.

As you go through the New Testament, you will find a great deal of emphasis on Christians submitting to one another. "Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble"" (I Peter 5:5). The reason for the emphasis is because if a person is too proud to consider what other people think, then they are too proud to consider the Ancient of Days -- the Lord God Almighty.

A congregation is about people coming together in unity around the teachings of God, not about their personal preferences. "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Corinthians 1:10). When people start taking an us versus them attitude, artificially dividing congregations between old and young, male and female, or leaders and followers, well, that church won't survive. "And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand" (Mark 3:25).

What would I advise? Start leading the youth into submission to God first and all other Christians second. Learn to serve one another in the fear of the Lord. "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:28-29).