Thursday, June 13, 2024

Why We Don’t Have Contemporary Music In our Church


by Paul Alexander

The above question is often voiced in various ways: “Why do we still sing the old songs? Why not exchange the hymnals for Power Point choruses, or sing more and shorten the sermons? The “Contemporary Church Movement” blossomed in the 1980’s in an attempt to make the church more appealing to unchurched people. Crosses came down, hymns were replaced with catchy choruses, organs and pianos moved over (or out) for the band, song leaders were replaced with worship teams, jeans replaced suits, pulpits were out and lecterns in, and the mention of “hell” and “sin” became taboo. There is nothing intrinsically Biblical about displaying crosses or singing from hymnals, and we are certainly in favor of reaching people with the gospel. We must always ask, however, “What are the Bible principles involved?”, and “Where does this path ultimately lead?”

Christ’s church (His bride) must never seek to become like the world. When the Bible speaks of “the world” it is referring to the lifestyles, priorities, attitudes and appetites that are characteristic of unsaved people, and uncharacteristic of God. The Bible has nothing positive to say about this world to which many churches and Christians are trying to appeal, appease and conform.

◆ 1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him….

◆ James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

◆ 1 Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. (See also John 15:19; Galatians 6:14; Titus 2:12)

According to Rick Warren, the first step to starting a church is to survey the community to find out what people want in a church, then give it to them [The Purpose Driven Church, ch. 8]. It is insulting, however, for Christ’s bride to strive to become like and to be loved by the very world system that crucified Him. (James calls it “adultery”.) The core premise of the contemporary church and music movement is unBiblical because it promotes conformity of the church and Christians to the world rather than to the holy image of Christ.

The contemporary church movement is producing shallow, worldly Christians and churches. Bill Hybels, the father of the seeker sensitive movement, prominently confessed, “We made a mistake…. Our churches are a mile wide and an inch deep.” [2007 Leadership Summit, Willow Creek Community Church] If the movement’s own leaders do not like where their path has led, why should we travel it?


Attracting the lost to our church is not our Biblical purpose. The church is primarily for the building up of believers to go out into the world and reach lost people who are then brought in to be discipled and in turn sent out to win others. (Ephesians 4) Certainly there is no objection to inviting the unchurched, but we must not change the message or the music in order to be liked by lost people.

The kinds of music widely enjoyed by the world will not move our church (or children) toward godliness. Rick Warren wrote, “Once you have decided the style of music for your worship you have set the direction of your church in far more ways than you realize.” [The Purpose Driven Church, p. 280-281] This striking statement by the world’s foremost contemporary leader is absolutely true and should make us consider very carefully before changing our music. Do I want to direct our church toward the world, or away from it? According to Warren, the style of music we choose helps set the course. Romans 12:2 commands, “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Much of the world’s modern music is a counterfeit of the beautiful music God created and cannot be used to worship and honor Him (i.e. “Christian rock”). “Our music cannot be like the music of the world, because our God is not like their gods. Most of the world’s music reflects the world’s ways, the world’s standards, the world’s attitudes, the world’s gods…. The popular music of the Western world is the music of seduction and suggestiveness, a musical counterpart of the immoral, lustful society that produces, sings, and enjoys it.” [- J. MacArthur, Commentary on Ephesians; For more on Biblical music and worship, request our sermon CD dated September 25 AM, 2011]

➥ We must not dilute our message, ignore Bible principles, employ worship music that is dissonant, harsh, sensual and suggestive, or seek to make the church appealing to the appetites of ungodly people, even to reach them. The true gospel will never be attractive to the unsaved in general, nor will it ever make them feel comfortable. Paul declared, “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness….” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

by Paul Alexander

Original article can be found at

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  1. Ev. Andy Sims: Sir you use “J. MacArthur’s commentary” and He is not even a Baptist, much less a Independent Baptist! J. Frank Norris would roll over in his grave, so would Dr. Jack Hyles! Are you sure you’re really an Independent Baptist?

    • While I’m inclined to agree with you as I don’t agree with MacArthur on key points, Jack Hyles isn’t Jesus, nor is he someone any IFB should be holding up as a pillar of the faith. His immorality and the immorality he covered up and condoned has led to 1000s of our young people turning from God. He was held up as some God-like figure while any 17 year old who was caught in sin was brought before the church. The hypocrisy destroyed many pastors’ credibility with their youth and is a key reason why 70% of our youth are leaving the church. Many have told me this after they left.

      Until we start holding pastors to higher standards than teenage boys rather than vice versa, the IFB movement will die due to our own hypocrisy.

  2. There seem to be some very strong opinions on this – to which I ask this question:

    Why don’t we sing the Psalms in Hebrew and Aramaic if older is so much more righteous? ?

  3. This article is nuts and so legalistic. I am glad this person is not God, then everyone is going to hell for certain, geez. He makes you wonder if its a sin to breathe air since it is of this world. If the words are good and positive then its good, simple. God gives us a lot of grace and intent is much of it. Just because it has a beat doesn’t mean its from the devil. David once danced naked before the Lord, heck this guy wouldn’t let David in his church because he is pornographic. Dude, take a deep breath and drop your religious attitude. It makes me want to puke. Pharisees did the same, strained the gnat and swallowed the camel. same deal here. I hate legalism and that’s what this article presents. Be careful, your cloths were manufactured by heathens. I hope you drive an anointed car or you will be displeasing in God’s site. Don’t get me started on Christian toothpaste and bed sheets. Satin sheets are of the devil! And please don’t gyrate! It makes my canary crazy!

  4. How do we make this argument jive with the book of Psalms? And the instruments used there?

    Why would we categorically say that new music is bad? I love hymns, but they were contemporary at one point too.

    The arguments are rather shallow, and while I’m not necessarily a fan of Rick Warren, I’m not sure what value discussing him adds to the article. The Bible should be our authority.

    I see a lot of personal preferences in this post not facts backed by the Bible. Your kids will as well. Back it up with the Bible, or we are going to lose our kids, my friends.

  5. I’m sorry, but are you a Christian or a Baptist?

    I, like Paul, am going to be foolish. I was raised the grandson of a prominent and great Baptist preacher. My grandmother was a well-known Christian writer. My parents were evangelists, and for many years were sent out from their home church — one of the largest and best known Baptist churches in a large city. A church that was led by a tow-the-line Baptist preacher who was well known in Baptist circles and at the Baptist convention. I know Baptists, and neither I nor my family could be faulted in Baptist circles.

    But all this is foolishness — and nonsense! Jesus was not a Baptist! When asked “what religion are you”, I do not say Baptist! I am a Christian!

    Like all denominations, Baptists have their warts, wrong doctrine, and sins. “Baptist” was invented and created by man, not God. This is truth, and it can not be denied.

    So what about you? Are you a Baptist, or are you Christian? I urge you to keep only one label — that of the Lord who saved you. The one that demonstrates the unwarranted grace of God. That of “Christian”.

  6. I have to agree with much (most) of what you say. But, in my honest opinion you depart from the truth as soon as you call out a particular style of music as “worldly” and “ungodly”.

    You correctly state that music is from God. But like all things, Satan and fallen man can use what is of God in ways that do not honor Him. But Satan using it in this way does not make the thing ungodly! Music — any music — given from God and with a God honoring message is godly.

    Moreover, calling out a style of music as “ungodly” while lauding traditional Christian music as “Godly” displays a complete lack of knowledge regarding musical history. Many of the hymns we sing today are set to (old) secular tunes! What we would today call “bar room songs”! Such statements also display a lack of understanding of music overall. There is no music style that is inherently “sensual”, and no musical beat that is inherently “carnal”. Sensual and carnal songs with ungodly messages have been set to every musical style you can think of throughout the ages. Yes, some beats make you want to get up and move…while others make you want to sit down and reflect. Moving is not bad, no more so than reflecting is bad. But clearly the message of a song should be properly matched to the style. “It Is Well With My Soul” just wouldn’t work with a hard rock rift. Any more than “Hosanna, Hosanna!” would work with a somber dirge.

    Now, certainly there are issues with “rock” music that must be worked through if that style is to be used in church. Many, many issues. And frankly, I think the issues are large enough that the right answer is to reject a lot of contemporary music. Not because the music is itself unholy, but because when we look at Biblical principals (such as putting others before ourselves), we must conclude that unified worship that is applicable to everyone is not possible with music that is extreme. Extreme either to the contemporary side, or extreme to the somber side.

    I really wish people would set aside personal preferences, and get over trying to categorize music styles as either Godly or ungodly. Instead, we need to focus on the real issues. You know, the ones that we can actually find in the Bible. The theology of the song being foremost. If we let the Bible guide us, we’ll probably find that much of the anger and arguments over worship music simply vanish.

    HINT — these Biblical guidelines have absolutely nothing to do with specific musical style.

  7. In 2 Samuel when David danced before the Lord in his tighty-witties, and Michal rebuked him describing his behavior as revolting, David didn’t hold back when he told her “this isn’t about you and you are not my audience, if you think that was bad just wait because I will lower myself even more.” Then afterwards the Lord closed her womb. Who do you think God’s side was on during this ordeal? And with that being said whose side do you think He’s on when you rebuke others who shout His praise from the rooftops with music that your heart of a Pharisee deems secular? This isn’t about you. It is about our Holy perfect God who by His Grace continues to love us more than we can possibly imagine despite the fact that we are ALL filthy rags in His sight. You included.

  8. Let me please say this. I was raised far away from church. As a matter of fact. I was a typical worldly teenager dreaming about rock music. My dad played country music in bars. Drank a lot. That’s the life i knew. And i was on a big stage for years. The music still follows me around. But my heart always yearns for the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

    That said. I very much agree with keeping worldliness away from the church. If you don’t do that, then it isn’t really a church. We don’t twist and bend the holiness of God to suit us. I can see where that would be impossible for some people.


    And that’s often the case. You can always count on finding a church to fall back on. But the only real church is the one between you and Christ. And as the Scriptures have told us. You only need at least one other person for fellowship. Namely a husband and wive.

    I have friends who attend church that play in the band. Rock music. And it doesn’t surprise me that they ditched a little old building that wasn’t really a problem in favor of a newly built million dollar church. This is typical of exploiting religion to promote vanity. And it happens in every town. I wouldnt go anywhere near those.
    Church isn’t supposed to be the fun meeting place for socializing. It’s suppose to be a safe place for anyone to go find guidance in a lost world. Not to be intimidated necause it feels like a fancy country club full of nosing hypocrites.

  9. @Faith
    “Music — any music — given from God and with a God honoring message is godly.”

    Your statement is very bad. Can you prove it? I am certain you cannot. Not only am I a musician. But I have listened to every kind of music for the past 40 years. And I can quickly say that much music in this world is engineered to be seductive. It is why they use it in movies. Imagine watching a horror film with the sound muted. Then try only listening to the film without the visual. I guarantee you will be horrified just by listening. The sounds we hear affect us deeply. To hear someone scream while being murdered would be traumatic. The Romantic Era of music had a dramatic loving impact on the masses. But still led nobody to Christ. Today, music is engineered based on military experiments on the mind. All contemporary music today is based on it.

    It is VERY foolish to believe all music is OK if the vocalist says the right words. Music doesnt need words to affect us badly.

    Making a joyful noise unto the Lord sounds as pleasant as the Scripture. Hymn singing cannot possibly lead anyone away from God. But modern music leads NO ONE to God. It creates worldly hypocrites. Singing a hymn is showing a musical heart driven love for Christ. Add a harp, and you just brought magic into the room. A distraction away from the whole purpose. The harp becomes the star of the show. Adding drums, bass, guitar, etc. You just drowned out God so you can show off your skills.

  10. Recently saw a video of a Sothern Baptist church in my area that had a so-called Christian rap group perform at their church. Could feel immediately that God was not in it. This kind of music if you can call it that does not belong in a church that follows and obeys God’s word. It just does not fit. The old hymns like The Old Rugged Cross, At The Cross, Victory In Jesus, At Calvary and others have a gospel message that honors and exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. Stay with the good old tried and true hymns and stay away from all this contemporary mess. These contemporary songs are just as wrong as contemporary new version so-called bibles and you will find that most churches that allow contemporary music also use and support new version bibles.


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