Christians disagree about music style as much as any other issue in the body of Christ. More than likely, you've experienced this firsthand. As I've already written, conflicts over music have been common through out church history. Christians have listened to and enjoyed all of kinds of music. But should they?
- We have made all the piano sheet music, guitar chords, tabs and lyrics for all the songs off this popular album available to you FREE OF CHARGE. Some of these songs make excellent choruses for Sunday morning worship, and for this purpose permission is given to make copies of this music for distribution to your local church musicians.
- Find choral music for your church choir. Lifeway offers a variety of resources for adults for Christmas, Easter, Patriotic services, or any time of the year.
In A Church in Crisis: Pathways Forward, Martin offers a detailed look at the growing hostility to the Catholic Church and its teaching. With copious evidence, Martin uncovers the forces working to undermine the Body of Christ and offers hope to those looking for clarity. Lifeway offers worship and praise music for your church's choirs including anthems, instrumentals, hymnals and more. Browse the selection at Lifeway.com. Find album reviews, stream songs, credits and award information for The Best Worship Songs for the Church.Ever! - Various Artists on AllMusic - 2011.
In seeking to determine what is the right music for a church, it's important that we use biblical principles in our evaluation. That's not always easy—the Bible doesn't contain music notes. God never gives us His musical preferences.
While it may be difficult, I do believe it's possible to evaluate musical preferences using God's word. The following seven tests each relate to biblical principles that we can apply to our music to determine its suitability.
1. Message Test
This may be the simplest of all the tests. Examine the words of the song and consider its message. Does this song communicate the Word of God? Does the message appeal to our higher nature, or do the words appeal to our lower nature? If we seek to glorify God, it's important that the message of the songs be consistent with what God has already told us in Scripture.
2. Purpose Test
All music was written with a purpose in mind. Here we ask, 'For what purpose was this song written?' or 'What is this trying to promote or encourage?' Determine whether the music is sad, joyful, uplifting or soothing. Music that may be appropriate at one time may not be appropriate at another. Some music may even be intended to promote sinful choices or ways of thinking. When we apply the purpose test to our music, we choose songs whose purpose lines up with our own as Christians and the values of our local church.
3. Association Test
No music exists in a vacuum. An otherwise good song may be rejected because of its associations. The key question for this test is, 'What does the music bring to mind in the heart of the worshipper?' Don't confuse the question. It's not what does it inspire in my heart, but what does it inspire in the heart of the worshipper.
This will depend on the context. When I spoke to a group of pastors, some of whom were Jamaican, they agreed that a variety of musical styles could be appropriate for their churches, but not reggae. For them, that style of music was about drugs. I then asked if it would be OK to use reggae music in my church where it does not have the same connotation. They agreed. The music was not the problem, the association was.
For example, many believe rap music connected to violence and misogyny. To others, however, it can simply be a vehicle to rage against sin and 'the world powers of darkness' (Eph. 6:12 HCSB). Lecrae, who recently appeared on The Exchange, epitomizes this in the intro track to his album Rebel:
And I rap the bread of life cause they dyin' to eat
I'm a rebel you know the kind that die in the street
Cause you refuse to conform,
won't eat the king's meat yeah
Christ rebelled by shunning the culture
He eatin' with sinners givin' Pharisees ulcers
He never got married, He was broke plus homeless
Yeah, that's the God I roll wit Apple mac pro 1 1a1186 manual.
What Lecrae has done in 'Rebel Intro' is to take a form and to use it for a different meaning. The form of rap is no less godly than the form in most of our hymns. It is a canvas waiting for a picture. The target of the rebellion by Lecrae and others like him is the prevailing cultural attitudes that are contrary to Christ.
4. Memory Test
Memories and past experiences are often associated with significant songs. This can be positive or negative. The memory test asks, 'Does the music bring back things in your past that you have left?' Remember, repentance is a significant step in conversion. If you have left the darkness, don't sing songs that make you want to return. This is often a personal issue, as some may struggle with memories associated with a song that can be enjoyed free of those thoughts by other Christians.
This means no one can claim a style of music they don't enjoy violates some policy of 'offending our brother.' That's not scriptural. What the Bible does teach is that we ought to avoid a practice if it causes people to sin. Listening to contemporary music does not cause a senior adult to sin, though it may offend. There is a distinct difference between the two.
5. Emotions Test
Music stirs our emotions—both negative and positive ones. The emotions test asks, 'Does the music stir our negative or sinful feelings?' Christian music should stir our passion for godliness, prayer and righteous living. If music causes you to crave sin, it is wrong; no matter how innocent it may appear. We should always evaluate how music affects us emotionally.
6. Understanding Test
This seeks to determine which type of music we understand the best. Some people enjoy and understand classical music, while some don't. Others enjoy and understand country/western (though I'm not sure why). Other people—also known as 'those who are right'—hate it. Those who appreciate classical music would find it easier to worship God listening to a recording of Handel's Messiah than a southern gospel quartet. This will depend on the person, their tastes and what it is that best encourages their worship.
7. Music Test
This test, like many of the others, is a 'cultural' test that will differ from place to place. It looks at the song to determine its merits based on hymnology. Is the song singable? Does it make your heart join in the song? A song may have Christian words and be sung by a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ, but the music can be flat and leave the audience empty. That particular song will probably pass out of existence because it fails the music test.
Worship Music For Church Services
These tests lead us to one simple fact: God can use any form of music. He has no musical style or preference. With the exception of the message and purpose test, the biblical tests listed here are all really about reflecting a biblical grid.
When you or your church is choosing music, it is important that you think through these issues. You may have the freedom to choose, but use discernment to choose wisely. Any musical style can pass the test in the right context, but it takes wisdom and a biblical perspective to determine whether that is the case. Hopefully, these seven tests can help you in that process.
This blog post was adapted from a chapter on music in Perimeters of Light, a book I authored with Elmer Towns. You can order that book here.
What do you think? Do you like/dislike these? What would you take away/add?
Free Music For Church Services
Learn which questions to ask to help you better meet your congregation’s needs.
The holidays are a time to focus on the good in the world and brush negative thoughts aside in the spirit of the season. At least that’s the message I took away from all the Christmas movies I watched growing up.
This especially holds true at churches, where Christmas services are typically among the highest attended of the entire year, and the warmth and tradition of the season can encourage a positive outlook and increased giving.
Like drifting snow covering curbside litter, the obligatory good cheer of the holidays can temporarily put problems with your church out of mind.
But what happens when the snow starts to melt, attendance wanes, and things go back to the way they were before the holiday season? Do you tighten your belt, hunker down, and wait for the Easter attendance spike?
Music For Your Church Services Home Repairs
Or do you take action and find out what would make your congregation as excited to come to church in February as they were in December?
One great way to find out what your congregation and visitors are looking for is with a church membership questionnaire. A questionnaire allows you to poll church members on what they enjoy about your church, what they feel is lacking, and whatever is on their mind about their church experience in general.
Survey software can make the process much easier, especially when used in conjunction with the member database in your church management system.
What church survey questions should I be asking?
Distributing a survey is one thing, but you also need to know what questions to ask on the survey. And to do that, you’ll need to know what direction you’re trying to take your church in. Are you looking to boost attendance, or trim spending, or expand to new locations? Each situation calls for different questions.
As Brett Andrews, lead pastor of New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, Virginia, says, “You don’t always have to have a goal, as long as you have a direction.”
Let’s take a look. But first, a few general tips on crafting church survey questions:
- Keep your survey as succinct as possible. The longer it is, the less likely it is that someone will take the time to complete it thoughtfully.
- Leave space for optional comments. You don’t want to prevent someone from sharing what’s on their mind just because you didn’t specifically ask about it.
- Whatever technology you use to distribute the survey, allow respondents the option to fill it out manually. The more responses you get, the clearer the picture, so it should be as accessible as possible.
- Request basic demographic information such as age, sex, and residence, and other basic info such as frequency and years of attendance, so that you can track trends.
Church survey questions to boost attendance
If your goal is to boost attendance, you should take a two-pronged approach: make sure that your regulars are happy so they’ll continue to attend, and also find ways to evolve to make sure that your church is an appealing destination for new visitors.
Here are several sample questions to help you illuminate the path to increased attendance:
- What do you most enjoy about attending services here?
- What, if anything, would you change about attending services here?
- Would you recommend this church to a friend or family member? Why or why not?
- What are some ways that you think we could make our church family more welcoming for new visitors?
- Have you attended a different church in the last year? If so, what—if anything—did you enjoy about that church that is different from our church?
What to look for: When you get these surveys back, keep an eye out for things that your members enjoy about attending services at your church, but be even more aware about what they’re missing.
Do your members wish that they could get a cup of coffee on their way in? Hook it up! It’s a small price to pay for keeping your loyal members happy and maybe even attracting some new members.
Church survey questions to trim spending
In his book, “Autopsy of a Deceased Church,” Thom Rainer writes, “In dying churches the last expenditures to be reduced are those that keep the members most comfortable.”
Indeed, a healthy budget is one of the most important vital signs of a healthy, growing church. Any church can find a way to spend more money: on ministries, facilities, or even just charitable giving.
But if your budget is out of whack and you’re spending more money than is coming in through donations, you need to trim the fat.
Here are five questions to help find places to cut:
- Among our service times, which do you usually attend, and which are you least likely to attend?
- Which of the following ministry opportunities are you most interested in participating in during the coming year? (List upcoming ministries)
- Which of the following ministries are you least interested in participating in during the coming year? (List upcoming ministries)
- Which of the following amenities (free coffee bar, mission trips, church barbecue/field day) do you enjoy the most?
- Which of the following outreach programs would you be most interested in volunteering with? (List outreach programs)
What to look for: By determining which services and ministries are the most popular, and which are just going through the motions, you can zero in on where to focus your spending and resources to get the most in return. Church attendance tracking can also be a valuable tool for figuring out which programs could most benefit from additional funding.
Coming at it from a different approach, you can also look for which programs your members are most interested in volunteering in. If someone wants to donate their time to do something, it’s a good indicator that it is a worthwhile investment.
Church survey questions for churches looking to expand
Surveying your congregation is one of the most important parts of the church planting process.
If your church is looking to open a new location, you’re in good company. To get here, you’ve created an environment that people want to be a part of, you’re spending your money and resources wisely, and you’re ready to grow beyond the walls of your current location.
This process is more complicated than just opening a new location across town, though.
Here are some questions to ask if you’re looking to expand:
- Which religious services, if any, do you avoid because they are too crowded? (Include worship services, Bible study, etc.)
- Have you ever attended—or considered attending—church online instead of in person?
- How far do you travel to attend our church, and where do you travel from?
- Have you recommended our church to friends or family in the area? If so, where do they live?
- If we were to open a new location, which members of our leadership team do you think would be best suited to help launch the new location?
What to look for: By asking these questions, you can determine if crowding is becoming an issue, or not, and if livestreaming your services—or even starting a dedicated online campus—might help alleviate some of the overcrowding.
You can also hone in on which area of your region would make the most sense to expand to. Finally, a new location will require some of your staff to relocate as well. Your congregation deserves to have some input on this process.
What questions do you want answered?
These examples are just that, but hopefully thinking about them has at least greased the wheels a little in your own mind. If you have any church survey questions of your own that have been useful for your congregation, please share them with your fellow church leaders in the comments.
Also, if your vigor for church improvement has been piqued, check out these other helpful articles:
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