Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday’s Ministry Musing: Worship in Different Styles

I was having a tough time figuring out what to write today.  Thankfully a discussion at Abraham Piper’s blog 22 Words sparked some thought.  Recently some dear brothers had a rap concert at Bethlehem Baptist Church.  Abraham’s thought was—Amen, now lets get a metal band.  Then, Frank Turk (of Pyromaniac fame) entered the discussion with this:

No. No to the first half, and no to the second half. Liberty is one thing, and vulgar abuse of liberty (which is not necessarily hinged on vulgar language — only vulgar materialism) is another.

Just no. There should be no belly dancing in church, either; no clowns; no slide whistles; no fireworks or sparklers. Some things are not meant for worship, and we should just face facts.

axe I've heard this discussion before.  Awhile back I had this discussion with a group of brothers.  Initially their comment was that there are some forms of music that are simply too pagan in origin and are not redeemable; like rap, metal, and other uncomfortable forms of music.

I have a few students (actually former students) that I love like my own sons.  They are in a metal band.  I say that just so you know.  Also, I am not a huge fan of metal music (especially the screamo kind—which my former students band is).  My biggest problem is an inability to hear the words.  Yet, I also know that some that listen end up getting the words and singing along with the bands they love. 

Now that you know that, let’s move on to the discussion.  Should there be rap and metal music in a church service?  Is there a style of music that is inherently evil or worldly? 

My initial response to Frank was simply this:

Rap or metal is not the same as belly dancing, clowns, slide whistles, fireworks, or sparklers. You are right that some things are not meant for worship…but can you really find me a text that says that the form of music such as rap or metal for that matter can not be used for worship through song?

God has created us with a ton of diversity, and he is redeeming people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and language.  People of different cultures have different forms of music.  What may seem evil to one culture is the common expression of another culture.  Deep drum beats are typical in African culture—but to someone in the Deep South it signifies gangsta rap. 

My take is that certain expressions can be very helpful within a worship setting.  Rap tends to make you feel like it’s subject is amazing.  The beats just confirm the awesomeness of the subject being rapped about.  There is some Christian music…I won’t mention any names…T-Bone that seem to use this to display how amazing they are for being Christians.  Kind of like a “eat that world…see Christians are amazing”.  But other rappers like Flame, Lecrae, those from Reach Records featured at Bethlehem use this genre to say Jesus is absolutely amazing.  It’s worship. 

Now think about metal music.  Metal music (especially screamo) is a good genre for displaying angst, struggle, and explosions.  It can be used to say I’m in pain.  It can be used to buck the authorities.  It can be used to curse God.  It can be used to generate an unholy expression for anger.  But it can also be a cry out to God that says, “I’m in pain God”.  It can be used to say to God “I hate this sin”.  It can be used by God to passionately express dedication.  It can be used to musically symbolize a violent casting off of the world.  It can be used to worship. 

Therefore, lets embrace all styles of music provided that everything within the song (music and lyrics) are centered around exalting God and His beautiful Gospel.


  1. Paul said, he became all things to all men that by some means he may win some. I think we need to speak and sing the Good New in the language of the hearer. If we can do so without throwing in the vulgarity and rebelliousness of the culture, we do well. Therefore, if Gods word is being sent out on whatever sound waves the hearers can hear, then let them that have ears, let them hear. I am confident the God's word will not return void.

  2. I seriously hesitate to post a comment on here, I absolutely adore my brother Mike, but he unintentionally has a way of making me out to sound like an idiot and partially retarded. With that said, I'm drawn to Titus 1:15, not too sound to Hufty-esq, but I believe in this situation it does apply.

    "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled".

    I believe it's an issue of the heart of the worshiper. Worship is not an option, it is required, therefore someone passionate about authentic worship would more easily give themselves to a style that is conducive to initiating true worship for that person. I am always so humbled at feedback I receive from brothers and sisters regarding my style of worship. I say again, I use "worship leader" so very loosely with what I am and do, I am SO not right enough to even be considered such, but if through my efforts to worship Christ others are spurned to do likewise then praise be to the Father! But if others find my style more conducive than a more traditional approach I don't believe that makes them wrong in their attempt. God will use it to His glory, its not for us to judge. Like Mike, I love the guys in the band he mentioned, but honestly I couldn't listen to a whole cd of them, (not because they aren't good at what they do, it's just not my most favorite style) but I know their hearts and I'm convinced that they love Jesus and passionately pursue Him.

    I think we are all going to be in for a big surprise one of these days, I think we haven't a clue still just how much it's not about us, we just can't seem to wrap our minds around that completely.

  3. "i will rise from the dust of my past.i will run to you whose arms are open.the tears well up within me, to you alone i cry.with this life i've been so foolish.i have tried and i've fallen so so far off i cant even see the end.the tears well up within me, to you alone i cry.we're loosing this battle, we've forgotten why we're here.growing tired of running the wrong way.when its dark and im tired let not my voice fail me, for there it is felt the you alone i cry.we will answer in time and all i ask of you, save me from this and i will follow after you.the time for wallowing in self deceit has past, its time to remember the heights we once knew.when we both arive i pray you know what it means to be alive." -INLOW (The metal band Mike mentioned)

  4. "I trust in you for life to live, and air to breath.
    Purity fills my lungs.
    I no longer live in solitude.
    No longer bound.
    My heart beats with great devotion.
    This is the start to a new beginning.
    On my knees praying for mercy.
    Hands raised high, humble and broken. Wanting your grace.
    Wanting your security.
    Memories of laying facedown, motionless, with such a hollow feeling inside.
    Soon I would end this life I was living.
    I am just a man with a heart and sinful hands.
    I am a fallen victim.
    Lord, show me the way. I ask of you Father, let my words be your words.
    Let my thoughts be your thoughts.
    To you, I give my praise.
    Show me the way. Take me in your arms. Never let me go.
    Lord, show me the way, as I give myself to you.
    Never let me go.
    Hold me with your everlasting love." - August Burns Red (A popular Metal band well know in their genre).....enough said!



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