Some common objections I come across when someone tells me they've talked to their worship leader about using music from false teaching ministries are these:
"The lyrics are still good."
"I didn't see anything off in the lyrics."
"The lyrics take on new meaning when we sing them."
And so on...
This truly reveals something that may be a little unexpected. While the above sound like legitimate points of view, they undoubtedly show the true nature of the situation.
Worship leaders feel that they cannot, under any circumstances, stay away from certain worship music.
Let's flesh this out a little bit with a scenario:
Say that you hear of your friend who is passionate about worshipping the Lord in truth. He's dedicated to sound doctrine, and he is not afraid to reveal truth with a loving motive. This friend learns that Bethel Music is rooted in very bizarre false teaching, as they are the music arm of Bethel Church. He decides to respectfully approach his worship pastor about the fact that his church, like most, is using music from Bethel very often in worship services. He cites God's Word and makes sure that he is coming across respectfully. Then he gets the common reply from his worship pastor that goes something like this:
"We carefully review the lyrics of each song we sing, and we make sure there are no false teachings in the ones we use."
Without much thought, your friend might think, "fair enough", but what his worship pastor actually just said is this:
"We truly love the music that Bethel Church in Redding, CA produces. Even though there are many alternatives, we simply can't go on without their songs. Our congregation really enjoys it when we use their songs. It would probably offend people if we stopped using their music."
Sadly, that's what is truly being communicated in the above. I read about this kind of scenario time and time again from those who reach out to Sound in Worship. I often hear that the worship pastor, or even senior pastor, basically just brushed the concern off. I truly hear this often, and it leads to the root of the issue.
It would be one thing for a leader to make the case that what Bethel teaches isn't false, but that's impossible for a Christ-centered church to do. There is far too much coming out of Bethel that contradicts God's Word. So without that case being made, what other reasons could there be to keep using their music?
It's like saying that you know there are more biblically sound sources for worship music out there, but you see a certain value in continuing to use unsound sources. That is necessarily true with the arguments given above. It's basically a "we MUST use their music!"
The truth is, no one has to use music from any certain source or artist. It's always a choice. Today it seems that our churches are more concerned with creating an environment with the most popular features in current church culture, rather than the most biblical.
What our leaders should be focusing on is making sure their flocks are being led with biblical truth. This includes the content that leaders are suggesting their flocks consume. Using well known, and popular evangelical approved worship music is a strong suggestion to their flocks. It's saying, "we're good with worshipping with this group's music", and it leads to members of the flock connecting to these source's social media accounts and online presence.
Instead, leaders could be focusing on worship music coming out of ministries who are sound; ministries that you wouldn't be ashamed to send someone to. "Yes, go and learn from this ministry as well." That's what we should be shooting for.
Until something changes in the popular evangelical world, this problem won't go away. We can act like it's no big deal, but it really is. Until churches stop shooting for popularity and numbers, these movements will continue to grow with their aid. Churches are even being built around these movements. Brothers and sisters, of whom you know weren't even aware of the teachings of these movements five years ago, are now yearning for the new thing.
It's where everyone else is going, so they're fine with following along. Pastor, worship pastor, and worship team member, are you willing to take a stand on the truth over the demands of evangelical popularity? Who will lead them if you won't?
Maybe you're like many who just didn't know about this. Take heart that you can make an impact on your flock. You can lead them with truth and glorify our Lord. It may not be the love they want, but it's definitely the love they need.
Stand firm leaders. Whatever you do, do it with loving motives to the glory of our Lord. Your flock will thank you later.
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