Should My Church Sing Bethel Music Songs for Worship?

Should your church be using Bethel Music songs for worship services? Many churches are using Bethel Music and Bethel Music Publishing artists today. Most are either unaware of what Bethel is about, or they choose to overlook the music from the church in Redding, CA. If biblical worship music is important to you, and if you're a Christian it is, then please be informed. While it is unpopular among younger Christians to question popular worship music, it is our duty to be obedient. Talking to a friend about how their favorite song is from false teachers is not a task that many would desire, but if we love and care about our brothers and sisters we must be willing to inform graciously.

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According to CCLI in December 2019, 4 of the top 10 songs used by churches were from at least one of Bethel's channels. The songs were: "Living Hope" written by Bill Johnson's son (Brian Johnson) and Phil Wickham, "This is Amazing Grace" which is also by Phil Wickham under Bethel Music Publishing (ASCAP), "Reckless Love" by Bethel's Cory Asbury, and "Lion and the Lamb" by Leeland under Bethel Music Publishing and co-written by Brian Johnson as well. There were also two Hillsong songs in the top 10, but that is a topic for another day. CCLI gives the following description of their data: "Based on reporting data from a broad cross-section of small to large US churches across all denominations licensed with CCLI." You can find their most up to date list at worshipfuel.com.

So, if you haven't noticed naturally, Bethel's music is a very popular choice among churches. If Bethel Church was a solid and biblical church this would be great news! Unfortunately, there are many reasons why Bethel is not a church that biblical churches should endorse or support in any way. Instead we should be praying for their members and followers, and praying that our churches are not influenced by Bethel's false teaching.

worship song cycle

From the Source

Gold Dust Testimony
BSSM Article (Angels and Demons)

These claims about Bethel Church are verified from many sources. However, these examples do not even begin to cover all of the bizarre areas that Bethel goes into. These strange beliefs are proudly preached by Bethel under the leadership of Bill Johnson. You can read more about Bill Johnson and other similar false teachers in Contemporary Worship in Truth (Not Trend).

The following briefly speaks about a tragic event in the lives of Bethel members. Their family should be kept in prayer. I linked to this video for information purposes for the church.

More on the gold dust (also known as "glory clouds").

Bethel gladly has this video on their YouTube channel.

So what's the harm in singing their songs in worship?

Especially if we only use the biblical songs?

Your Church is Paying to Use the Music

You probably didn't come to this post for a legal breakdown of the licenses needed for churches to use music for certain settings, so I'll leave that to Christian Copyright Solutions. The bottom line is that your church is required to pay for licenses to use music for certain functions. When you use music in these ways you're funding the artists you choose to use. CCLI speaks to how they ensure artists are paid fairly. Maybe your church gives a copyright acknowledgement at the end of the lyrics on a projected screen, and that means...

Your Church is Promoting Bethel's Ministry

When your church plays Bethel's ever popular content they're, either directly or indirectly, sending the message that they approve of it. Who hasn't picked up their phone, either during or after the service, and googled the lyrics of a song in order to find it? It gets to your song library quickly. Then, when you're bored at home on that Sunday afternoon you start searching for other songs by the artist. You go ahead and "like" the artist on Facebook, and within a few days they've shared their music and preaching from church services. Now you've heard a small portion of their theology, and it doesn't seem too bad. If it hasn't happened to you in that exact way, I'm sure you can still relate. The simple using of Bethel's music is not so simple, and who your church approves of matters.

Fill your congregation with solid biblical content that they can listen to all week, and be aware that many will be growing in their studies day by day. It's important that they grow in the biblical direction.

Also, keep in mind that taking Bethel Music out of your song rotation does not leave your worship team songless. There are plenty of awesome songs from biblically guided artists. Please feel free to recommend solid music to us! For more on what to look for in a worship song check out this resource.

So make no mistake about it, this is how Bethel Church unashamedly carries itself. These are not just secondary issues or minor differences of opinion between denominations. These are plainly dangerous teachings that could persuade new believers and non-believers in many ways.

So how do we ensure we're not using Bethel's music? You can head to Bethel's Artist Collective page, or search for them on CCLI.

How Should We Go Forward About This?

To address this topic, we unfortunately had to speak negatively about Bethel. One of the best possible things that could happen would be for many of their members and artists to turn from these dangerous false teachings and doctrine, and embrace solid biblical teaching. The artists of Bethel are extremely talented, and God can do anything He desires in their lives. He can bring them out of this, place them in a time of study, and then into using their talent for the glory of Christ. May that be our prayer, and this our Scripture to reference:

"As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love." - Ephesians 4:14-16.

To the one who has read this and desires to inform their church, do so graciously. Every one of us has needed correction at many times in our lives. We still need it. I urge you to inform others with loving motives. How would you want to be informed about something like this?

Update: A reader of this article reached out with strong concerns about the article and this issue. I respond in this episode of the Sound in Worship podcast:

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May we worship our God in spirit and truth! He is worthy!

Justin at Sound in Worship

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Other Helpful Resources

Spirit of Error - Holly Pivec
Doreen Virtue
Contemporary Worship in Truth (Not Trend)

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