Secular Music in the Church – Part II

A while back I posted this in regards to secular music in the Church.  I’ve had a follow-up post in mind for over a year and have just never gotten around to posting it.  Instead I thought I’d post an email that I recently received from a guy who’s been part of our Church for quite some time.  He’s a musician who doesn’t say much, but when he does…  watch out!!!

I don’t think there should be a line in the sand between “church” music and “not church music”…  I am for all genre of music that expresses “us”…  our joys, our feelings, our moods, our thoughts…   Music that represents our character — music we enjoy playing for the catchiness of the tune, or the meaning we find in the lyrics.  We wouldn’t play any Sista Soulja (c)rap, because none of us ( I hope) share her views.  But on the other hand, how fun to bust out some Willie Nelson, or get sentimental with some John Denver, or just go wild with some Kiss…  And if you recall, how fun was it at the Mens’ Advance to sit and jam whatever tunes we could think of…  eagles, doobie bros, waylan jennings, Willie Nelson, … a bunch of different stuff.
At Chorus church, we’ve done some non-secular songs from the stage on sunday morning:  Green Day’s (?) ” I walk alone” comes to mind.  We’ve also done a lot of rewrites:  “I can see clearly now”, and “Give me the Beat, Boys”, come to mind.  In fact, the tune  “Give me the Beat, Boys”  was headlined as we launched Chorus Church 5 years ago.   It’s on the poster and T-shirt.  Dave Reynolds has done a ton of ’70’s re-writes, and loves to play all manner of music…. I am really looking forward to his family “Loudhouse” concert saturday night…  I think you’ll hear a wide spectrum of music, including secular, non-secular, and original stuff, all performed on church property, by the pastor and his family, under the auspices of Chorus Church, for the purpose of raising money for the Mexico Mission project…  I think that, alone, should make my point about whether or not we should limit our band to just “church” music.   It should be a great evening of music…  All kinds of music…
A little bit of history:  Many, many of the songs we now call hymns started some 200 years ago as rewrites to then-popular bar/pub tunes…  Someday, if and when our church band plays what we now consider a “sacred hymn”, sneak a peak to the back of the auditorium…  you just might catch a glimpse of Elena Reynolds holding an imaginary skein of beer, doing the oom-pah-pah thing as we sing the hymn, because she knows and honors the fact that God has taken that old bar tune, and is now using it for His glory.  In our own country’s history, the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” was written in the middle of the night when the author awoke from a dream, knowing she had to write those words to the inflammatory civil war bar song of “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave”…  Today, we can’t sing that song without our throats tightening, and tears welling up in our eyes.  During the 1960’s and early 70’s, a lot of church music came from newly born-again converts from what we call the Hippie culture…  many were reformed hard metal rockers and drug addicts….. Believe me… someone like that couldn’t play a hymn like “I’ll fly away”, because they would have a flashback, and they’d really fly away.  Instead, we got songs like “Jesus is just alright with me”, and “Spirit in the Sky”.    ….And then there was the band Stryper…  Christian seriously heavy-metal.  Ask Dave Bishop about Christian heavy metal music…  It’s all music, and it’s all there, and available.  And all of it is necessary to reach across the boundaries of age, culture, and lifestyle.
Music is the language of the heart.  We live in two worlds:  the spiritual world through the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ, and the physical world.  Our music can — and should — represent and honor both.  If we play music that honors our hearts and enlivens our souls, then the music, whether from secular or non-secular sources, will honor our character and our calling in Christ.  The psalmists talked about praising God with all manner of music, from the sound of the lyre to the crashing of symbols.  Paul talks about how he is all things to all people, that they may know Christ.  We are to be in the world, but not of the world…  I can’t think of a better way to do that than to play “our” music… all of it.

Thanks for the insight Tim!!!  Any thoughts?

One thought on “Secular Music in the Church – Part II

  1. sal says:

    Just makes me remember you calling me and asking me to come play with you and playing a song called “Gravity”….

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