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HOW TO KEEP CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC OUT OF THE CHURCHES
[Distributed by Way of Life Literature's Fundamental Baptist Information Service. Copyright 1997. These articles cannot be stored on BBS or Internet sites without permission from the author. The articles cannot be sold or placed by themselves or with other material in any electronic format for sale, but may be distributed for free by e-mail or by print. They must be left intact and nothing removed or changed, including these informational headers. This is a listing for Fundamental Baptists and other fundamentalist, Bible-believing Christians. Our goal is not devotional. OUR PRIMARY PURPOSE IS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO ASSIST PREACHERS IN THE PROTECTION OF THE CHURCHES IN THIS APOSTATE HOUR. If you desire to receive this type of material on a regular basis, e-mail us, tell us who you are and where you are located, and request to be placed on the list. Also include your postal address and the name of the church of which you are a member. Please note that we take up a quarterly offering to fund this ministry. Some of these articles are from the "Digging in the Walls" section of O Timothy magazine. David W. Cloud, Editor. O Timothy is a monthly magazine in its 14th year of publication. Subscription is $20/yr. Way of Life Literature, 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277. The Way of Life web site is http://wayoflife.org/~dcloud. The End Times Apostasy Online Database is located at this web site. (360) 675-8311 (voice), 240-8347 (fax). firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail)]
November 8, 1997 (David W. Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277) - Continually I am hearing from people who are broken hearted that the worldly contemporary music has taken over their churches. Let me give an example of what is happening widely among those who only a short time ago would have nothing to do with Contemporary Christian Music. Liberty University was founded by Jerry Falwell, an Independent Baptist preacher. He once had high spiritual standards for music in his church and school and on his Old Time Gospel Hour program, but that is no longer the case, and this exemplifies what is happening on many fronts. The October 1997, issue of Charisma magazine reported that "Jerry Falwell Is Now Open to Charismatics." The report mentioned that Integrity Music, which is very influential in spreading the contemporary music and which rose out of the Charismatic movement, is planning to record a live praise and worship album at Liberty University. The Editor of Charisma, Stephen Strang, said that FALWELL ADMITTED THAT "YEARS AGO HE WOULD NOT HAVE ALLOWED THIS TYPE OF MUSIC IN HIS SCHOOL." Strang continued, "Now Liberty is not only co-sponsoring Integrity's live recording, IT IS WORKING WITH INTEGRITY TO ESTABLISH AN INSTITUTE THAT WILL TRAIN A NEW GENERATION OF WORSHIP LEADERS IN LYNCHBURG" (Charisma, October 1997, p. 122).
This church and school, which years ago stood for the traditional Christian music that was born out of spiritual revival, has capitulated completely to the siren call of the charismatic-ecumenical Contemporary Christian Music. Now it will spread this unscriptural philosophy of music far and wide through its students and the churches under its influence.
WHY IS CCM SWEEPING INTO SO MANY FORMERLY STRONG BIBLE-BELIEVING CHURCHES?
First, CCM is sweeping into so many formerly strong Bible-believing churches because it is pervasive. Unless it is steadfastly resisted, it will be accepted. No church can be neutral in this battle. Even the strongest Bible-believing churches are continually tested in the area of music, and this battle is going to rage stronger as the return of Christ draws closer. Church members encounter worldly music on Christian radio and television stations. Further, in most Christian bookstores today one will not find music that is truly spiritual. Instead, the shelves are filled with Christian rock and charismatic "praise" and all sorts of worldly ecumenical beat music. The companies producing this music are largely owned by secular corporations which have only one motive: profit, money. Nothing truly spiritual and acceptable to the Lord can come out of such a compromised, worldly, unscriptural situation.
Second, the new music is enjoyable. It is a great temptation because it is very satisfying to the flesh. This is why one can draw large crowds to attend church if a very rhythmic music is provided, but many of those same people will not come to a prayer meeting or to a preaching service which features traditional Christian music. Worldly music appeals to worldly people. The sad problem is that even the born again child of God has an old nature which still enjoys carnal things, and the most spiritually-minded Christian is perpetually tempted by the lusts of his own flesh. It is easy to enjoy Contemporary Christian Music. Just relax the allow the flesh to have its way.
Third, CCM is the easiest way to draw a crowd. One of the most effective ways for a church to appeal to this present generation is through its music. Pastors are tempted to let down the standard for the sake of increasing the attendance and making the church more popular in the community. If he does not have his eyes directly upon the Lord of His calling, a pastor will think he is in competition with other churches in the area. How can a church compete with Contemporary Christian Music? By providing the same type of music. Pastors all over the land are falling prey to this temptation. It is a sign of spiritual decadence.
HOW TO KEEP CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC OUT OF THE CHURCH
How, then, can a church keep the new music out?
1. MAINTAINING SPIRITUAL STANDARDS FOR MUSIC IN THE CHURCH BEGINS WITH THE PASTORS. We believe that everything rises and falls on leadership. It is not enough for a few of the church members to have high standards of music. If the church as a whole is to be protected from the new music, the pastors must understand spiritual music and must have strong convictions and high standards in this area. This must be reflected first of all in their own homes and in the lives of their children. Pastors and deacons do have a greater responsibility to keep their families scripturally sound. God requires this of them (1 Timothy 3:4-5,10-12; Titus 1:6). Those who do not maintain proper scriptural order in their families cease to be qualified to lead the churches. A school principal recently testified to me that he had to tell the teenage children of deacons and pastors in his own church that the music they brought to a church activity was unacceptable. This type of thing will eventually destroy the standards in the church. If the church in general has good standards for music, yet the young people in the homes of the leaders are listening to worldly music, the standard overall will break down quickly. Those young people will set the spiritual tone for the other young people. The parents who try to maintain high standards of music for their children are undermined if the young people in the church leaders' homes flaunt those standards. Further, it is hypocrisy for a pastor to refuse to allow Contemporary Christian Music in the assembly, yet allow it in his own life and family.
2. THE PASTORS MUST TRAIN THE PEOPLE ABOUT SPIRITUAL MUSIC AND MUST WARN THEM OF THE DANGERS OF WORLDLY MUSIC. It does not come "natural" for God's people to reject worldly music. The flesh enjoys it, and the flesh is ever present. Church members must be trained in the area of music just as they must be trained to understand sound doctrine and to win souls to Christ and to have a fruitful Christian home and to practice holiness in every other area. To be effective, the teaching must be very plain and it must be applied so that the people will understand exactly what types of music are helpful spiritually and what types are detrimental. Wise pastors will use every tool available to help the people understand these matters. They will make good literature available. They will bring in speakers who are effective in teaching about Christian music. This is not an insignificant matter. Music is one of the most powerful influences in this world. Note the following statement by the Bible commentator Albert Barnes: "Dr. Johnson once said, that if he were allowed to make the ballads of a nation, he cared not who made the laws. It is true in a more important sense that he who is permitted to make the hymns of a church, need care little who preaches, or who makes the creed. He will more effectually mold the sentiments of a church than they who preach or make creeds and confessions" (Barnes Notes on the New Testament, Ephesians-Colossians). The pastor who ignores this issue does so to the spiritual detriment of the church for which God has made him responsible.
3. THE MUSIC PERSONNEL MUST BE CAREFULLY SELECTED. If a church is to keep Contemporary Christian Music out of its midst, it must be extremely careful about the selection of people who are involved with the music. This includes the music director, church musicians, those who provide special music, and the choir members. The best way to be certain that all involved with the music are committed to maintaining the highest spiritual quality is to have written standards and to go through these with everyone involved. Everyone should be trained in a spiritual philosophy of music and fully prepared to recognize and reject worldly music. They must be committed to this philosophy before they are allowed to be involved with the church's music "program." The leaders cannot merely assume that the music personnel understand and agree with these things. The only Christians who understand the issue of Christian music properly are those who have been trained to so understand it. This comes back to the responsibility of the pastors to teach these things. If there is not an ongoing training program pertaining to music, a church will quickly deteriorate in this area, because the pressures to use the new music are constant. Further, the music people must lead by the example of their own lives. If a song director uses spiritual music in the assembly but enjoys worldly music in his car and at home, his example will have a powerful effect upon the church family. I recall one church which used only excellent music in the services, but one of the key music personnel loved jazz and other forms of carnal music privately. The young people, particularly, pick up on this kind of double standard.
4. THE HIGHEST STANDARDS MUST BE MAINTAINED FOR WORKERS THROUGHOUT THE CHURCH. One of the most important and effective ways to maintain high spiritual standards of living in a congregation is to have the highest standards for teachers and workers. These are the members who most significantly affect the church body. What they believe and how they live and what their goals are will largely determine that of the entire church. If the church's teachers and workers listen to worldly music, how can it be expected that other members will not follow their example? And how can a church know what its teachers and workers are doing in these areas unless it has written standards and makes certain that the standards are enforced? I have heard pastors say that it is not their business to involve themselves in what the people listen to and what they watch and what they do "in the privacy of their own lives." That philosophy is both unscriptural and unreasonable. It is unscriptural because the Bible says the pastors are placed in the church "to watch for your souls" (Heb. 13:17). The pastors are also in the church for the perfecting and edifying of the body (Eph. 4:11-12). How can a pastor watch for the souls of his church members unless he knows what they are putting into their souls? How can he perfect and edify them unless he knows what is happening in their daily lives? Such a philosophy, therefore, is unscriptural. It is also incredibly unreasonable, because it is saying that the shepherd is not to interfere in the business of the sheep, which is absolute nonsense. A shepherd who does not make it his business to know what the sheep are doing is a lousy shepherd.
5. THE YOUTH GROUP MUST BE LED SPIRITUALLY. The greatest battle over music lies in the region of the young people. In their youthful immaturity they will respond naturally to the "new" things. They will also pressure their parents to weaken the family standards in this area. In fact, those who promote Christian rock music do so in the name of the young people. They claim that the only way to reach the youth is with "their own music." This is nonsense, of course, from a biblical perspective. "For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness" (1 Thess. 4:7). The church is not in the business of entertaining young people, but calling them to discipleship in Christ and separation from the world and holiness of living. It is true that what you win them with you win them to. If a church uses worldly means to win young people, those thus won will be worldly. If a church has an organized youth group, it must be very careful about the selection of those who lead the youth. Young people don't need a "good times Charlie." They don't merely need another buddy who will pal around with them in fun and games. They get plenty of that. What they desperately need, and what the church is required by God to give them, are godly, spiritually mature people who will love them and show them the path in God's perfect will, who will call them to reject the vain, "cool" ways of this present wicked world, who will challenge them to be pure, to pull down the worldly idols from their hearts, to give themselves wholly to the service of Jesus Christ while there is still time, to yield to Christ's command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.
I praise the Lord for the many churches which refuse to be infiltrated with worldly music. Those who are standing are not doing so by accident. When the enemy rages against a certain position, the soldier who does not stand firmly will definitely fall.