Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Vapid Wasteland of Contemporary Worship Songs?

Yesterday Christianity Today posted a question to stir up some discussion:  Should churches ban Christmas carols with questionable theology?  The title of the post brings up some fond memories for me: Away with ‘Away in a Manger’? 

The discussion has been thoughtful at times, but what I found really interesting is the myriad of comments like these:

Hahaha- what a nonsensical article. What they should do away with are all those evangelical songs that focus like a laser on ME ME ME. Oh Jesus, I feel this, and my life has changed, I'm a better person, blah, blah, blah.

I wouldn't mind passing on the questionable lyrics in "Away in a Manger", provided that we also take a harder look at the theological mush that often passes as Sunday morning worship lyrics throughout the rest of the year.

Maybe we should go the praise-chorus route and only sing songs so utterly devoid of meaning that no one could possibly be offended.

So much (not all) of the current contemporary worship music is junk – literal, theological, musical, overly repetitive, shallow junk. Why not start cleaning the Lord’s House from some of those first.

There is one sense in which I agree with some of these comments.  We should take a hard look at many of the lyrics in the things that we sing.  But where I disagree is in saying that this is only the “praise-chorus” songs.  There are just as many beloved and precious hymns that are theologically vapid. 

And such blanket statements about contemporary worship music is irresponsible.  I’ll take many of my Crowder and Tomlin songs over Fanny Crosby’s Keswick-laced songs any day.

I say the solution is to not give any genre of music a free pass, nor to demonize any genre, but to consider how all of them stack up theologically.  Of course, it is also wise to consider the medium as well; leaving room for poetic license and not being a stubborn doctrinal Pharisee. 



  1. Ironically the watered down "I wanna sit in your lap and rub your beard Jesus" worship songs are just a sampling of our entire attitude towards filling a pew on a Sunday morning. We have no grasp of holiness and if we're honest most of the time aren't that concerned about it. And I agree, the sacred cow of the Baptist Hymnal is a huge disappointment most of the time as well. Contemporary or traditional, it falls short b/c its the product of fallen creatures who are "me" centered- stained garments is what we offer... We would do well to turn off our noise and run to Christ.

  2. Wow, "rub your beard Jesus" worship songs. LOL. I probably shouldn't be laughing, but I am.

    Thanks for the comment Anon.

  3. As a lay worship leader, I have been making a making a mental note to never use certain songs again in my church. Some of these have been the new songs that worship team members bring to practice, but some have been classic hymns sung during the Sunday School opening. How about another rousing chorus of "I Come to the Garden Alone?"
    "...and the joy we share as we tarry their, none other has ever known."



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