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What kind of music is okay in church?

This is has to be one of the most controversial issues within Christianity! Are drums in church okay? What about that 2/4 beat?

Let's get to the bottom of the issue: Should personal preferences be the standard for what is acceptable music in church? After all, they have a tendency to put individuals into comfort zones, and when we hear something outside what we're accustomed to, we often become uncomfortable and judgmental.

Before applying our personal preferences, historical acceptances, and paradigms to music, we must take a biblical look into the matter to determine what constitutes “acceptable” in God’s eyes.

For instance, the Bible says to “Praise the LORD with the harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise” (Psalm 33:2, 3). Ephesians 5:19 adds, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

God’s Word seems to state that we should sing a variety of music that is spirit-filled and uplifting to God. But what does that mean? Are there limitations on the type of music or which instruments are spirit-filled?

Music plays multiple roles in churches today: testifying, praising, uplifting, encouraging. It also holds an entertaining component; it might not be the intention, but it is a collateral effect of quality and God-given talent. Most hymns and songs were not intended to be unmemorable, drawn-out, funeral-laden sequences, but rather to uplift Christ.

If the Bible itself instructs us to sing and play instruments with a loud noise, what’s ok? The Bible actually doesn’t state that any style of music or instrument is wrong. Instead, it says only that we are to use our voices and instruments to glorify God. Personal preferences aside, biblically speaking, that which glorifies God is holy, sanctified, and is acceptable in His sight. Whether or not we prefer it is a different story. 

Matthew 7:1 says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Is church music exempt? Should our dislike for a certain style, volume level, instrument, etc., be supported with a biblical foundation for exclusion from church services or are certain musical styles and instruments wrong if they "just don’t feel right" in the sanctuary?” Should we be open to different musical styles and instruments?

We can start by taking a conscious look at the music—listening to the words and seeing how it aligns with the pre-determined criteria as set by God: spiritual songs, skillful playing, praising the Lord, making melody in your heart to the Lord, and uplifting his name (Ephesians 5:19).

Finally, consider Philippians 4:8: “Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (NIV).

How can we use this verse to help us objectively determine what the right types of instruments or music styles are in the church?

By Sabrina P.

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