Massive battles have been fought over this issue. Churches have split. Pastors have been fired. Countless Christians have taken up arms against each other in order to defend their answer to this question.
- The New Testament clearly accents congregational singing (Ephesians 5:18-19; Colossians 3:16 and says nothing at all about musical accompaniment. This means that churches should encourage the congregation—the whole congregation—to sing. So churches should pick music that people can sing, and the musical accompaniment they choose should support and enhance congregational singing, rather than overwhelm it. One good test of whether or not your musical accompaniment is overwhelming congregational singing is this: Can the congregation hear themselves singing? After all, Paul exhorts us to address one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, as we make melody to the Lord with all our heart (Ephesians 5:19).
- The style of music should fit the tone of the words. This means that some styles of music will be more or less appropriate in general, and some styles of music will be more or less appropriate depending on the song’s verbal content.
- The style of music a church uses should vary enough to reflect the variety of the Christian life, including its joys and sorrows, its delights and despair. Practically speaking, this means that churches should sing songs in minor keys. Since not many of those have been written in the last twenty years, that’s one great reason to draw on the riches of the last few centuries of Protestant hymns.
- Congregations should be taught to “count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3) in the area of musical preferences. This is especially true if a church hopes to reach a variety of people from a variety of walks and stations of life.
For more great resources from Mark Dever and 9Marks Ministries, visit www.9marks.org