Monday, June 2, 2014

More Cowbell!!

Based on the opinion of some, drums are NOT to be used in worshiping the Lord.  The Bible is quite clear on every instrument being used to make a joyful noise on to the Lord.  This goes back to opinion I would think but, would you be sinning if you used a drum in your service?

This really is a great question.  I think it is much more deeper than just drums though ... much deeper.  We have been witnesses (for decades) to the mutation of the definition of worship from "service before God" and "prostrating oneself before God" into "music that makes one feel or sense the presence of God."

Because of this, many have taken on the authority to decide what instruments and tools are appropriate for worship.  Interesting how the first worship services of the tabernacle involved skilled tradesmen using their crafts to create the artifacts that God had instructed to be used in worship before Him.  Few of western Christians would define the swinging of a hammer an act of worship ... but there is good teaching out there trying to refocus their congregations in worship to serving before God and not reacting to the music played for Him.

Let's first speak of the drums themselves.  The origins of drums deals more with communication than music ... though they were definitely used for both.  But their most important application was in communication ... much like we see a church bell or a bugle used.  The church bell ... wasn't a church bell ... it was a community wide communication tool.  Drums were used to call meetings, to bring units into alignment ... to communicate orders ... to move units in step.  Drums do the same thing in music.  Without drums, a musical team can keep a beat but the attitude and velocity (not speed velocity but frequency velocity ... look it up...) brought by a drum is irreplaceable.  With the invention of horned instruments, the long range communication of the drum was replaced, but never at the unit level.  Horns sounded the commands, drums kept the units in time and aligned.  Drums are fantastic additions to a worship team if applied correctly.

Music as a whole is a tool of worship ... only a tool ... but a great tool for personal and congregational worship.  It takes us quickly to a thought and into agreement with others but if we only sing what is on the page we can quickly find ourselves in direct opposition to Jesus teachings about worship.  In Matthew 6 (The Sermon on the Mount - The Lord's Prayer) Jesus warns us from using "vain repetitions" in our prayer ... which is ultimately what congregational worship has us doing ... speaking something to God in unity.  But if we only stay on the page for the sake of the page ... because that's what the song says ... than we miss the point.  Music is a vehicle of worship, not a destination.  As  said previously, music is a tool of worship, not the building.  Imagine if you tried to build a house without the use of a chop saw (miter saw) ... it would be difficult but not impossible.  Many have for years ... but it sure makes it much faster, tighter, stronger.  But imagine trying to build a house with only a chop saw ... that would be impossible.  That is the danger with defining worship as music.  If our only worship is music, then the house cannot stand.

I always encourage my congregations that the power of a corporate service is decided often long before the first person walks into the house of worship ... it is decided by our own personal walks ... our own personal worship throughout the week.  I'm not talking about music and jamming to our favorite songs during rush hour to keep us from road rage ... I'm talking about how we carry Jesus throughout our lives.  

I can tell you I have sat in some very rough music services ... with people on stage who could barely tune their instruments .. but the people were bringing their best ... and it was intense ... powerful.  I am convinced that if your understanding of worship is balanced, than regardless of what congregation you unite with, then you can quickly and freely enter into the unity of the believers there in worship no matter how alien the process is.  

When believers start legislating what is usable and unusable ... what tools are appropriate and what tools are inappropriate, they are either looking out for the good of the weak or sick (examples following) or they are indoctrinating musical preferences.

Examples of the first are the preventing of the use of drums or other sharply toned instruments because of the presence of hearing disabled, deaf, or elderly.  Perhaps they may prohibit the singing of a certain song because it brings painful memories to a member (that personally happened and I agreed with it .. still do) who may have lost a loved one and is not yet able to deal with it ... we are still supposed to bear up the burdens of the weak. Read carefully:

Romans 15:1-2: We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2: Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.

Examples of the second have no boundaries ... but here are some that I have personally heard.

Ahem (sound of one clearing throat).

"Jesus didn't use instruments, neither should we."
"Electric guitars are instruments of Satan."
"Distortion and all that heavy metal is of Satan."
"Rap is of Satan."
"Drums are not Spiritual."
"Drums are Spiritual."
"Only southern gospel is truly anointed by God."
"There is no greater anointed worship than southern gospel."
"Hymns have lost their anointing."
'The only anointed worship songs are Hymns."
"Anything older than 2001 has lost its anointing and is prohibited in my church."
"Anything newer than 2004 is of the devil and prohibited in my church."
"Minor chords are Satan's chords."
"Dancing is not of God."
"Worshiping in Spirit means silence."
"Praise music should come first, then worship music."
"People need about three to five praise songs then five to seven worship songs before they can truly usher in the presence of the Lord."
"Praise music is fast music, and worship is slow music."
"That song ushers in the presence of the Spirit."
"That song grieves the Spirit."

Wow .. well .. then ..

Psalms 150:1-6 Praise the LORD. Praise God in His sanctuary: praise Him in the firmament of His power.  Praise Him for His mighty acts: praise Him according to His excellent greatness.  Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet: praise Him with the psaltery and harp.  Praise Him with the timbrel and dance: praise Him with stringed instruments and organs.  Praise Him upon the loud cymbals: praise Him upon the high sounding cymbals.  Let every thing that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.

So let's review ... psalteries and harps (harps, guitars, pianos), timbrel and dance (drums, percussion, bells, xylophones, and dancing) stringed instruments and organs (violins, cellos, etc and organs and keyboards), loud and high sounding cymbals (umm ... drums part 2), everything that has breath (vocals, woodwinds, horns, bagpipes, harmonicas, accordions, and even kazoos).  I'm pretty sure that we can even employ the use of jugs, tearing of socks, and the smacking of spoons for you blue grassers.  I don't care what vague scripture a person can pull from, nothing can out do or undo this call to worship.

As per Jesus not playing an instrument ... wow ... John clearly uses an analogy stating that if all of the works of Jesus were recorded in books, there wouldn't be enough room in the world to store them (Jn 21:25).  Is anyone that familiar with Him that they can make that claim ... because He says He was from the beginning ... before the beginning ... pretty sure He is very familiar with instrumental play.  Furthermore, to state that because it is not said that instruments can't be used opens the doors for other sins, that is ridiculous if the whole Bible is applied.  There is no sinful action that cannot be tied somewhere tangible in the Bible ... the use of musical instruments is easily connectable to Scripture.  Stating that "making melodies in your heart" (Eph 5:19, Col 3:16) literally means singing in your heart without instruments?? Well I've seen a lot of real hearts ... none of them sing ... they only bleed and pump.  It was an expression most like what we use today "from your heart" ... meaning ... be truthful to what you are saying ... sing songs with heartfelt passion.  Instruments were commonly not used in certain churches because of the attention they brought under strict persecution ... it was about keeping quiet.  

Let's be clear, I'm not just singling out the Church of Christ.  The reason for many of their congregations not using instruments in congregational worship is NOT because of any claim that Jesus didn't play and instrument ... it is because they want to limit what happens in their services to only what we see Jesus and the early church doing ... they do sing ... and many have separate music services but not as part as the congregational worship service.  If I was asked to minister at a Church of Christ, I would not bring my guitar and I know I would be with them in worship.  However, any congregation that accepts the doctrine that they alone are the true church and only by them can men be saved is aligning itself as a cult ... and there is no denomination or affiliation that is free of those fanatic congregations.

Let me also clarify another thing.  I have seen the opposite of this too ... and it is repulsive.  All who define themselves as Christians and minister in music would do well to remember the following Scriptures along with those already posted.

I Peter 2:13-17: Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14: Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15: For so is the will of God, that with well doing you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17: Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

II Corinthians 6:1-4: We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2: (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) 3: Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience ...

I've seen improper performances ... hiding behind "worship" to work an agenda.  I've seen dancing that was not to God but instead a show of sensuality.  I've seen "instrumental worship" that was nothing but a chance to be in the spot light.  God never tells us what is in another's heart but He sure doesn't stop us from making it clear ourselves.  Ministry is about serving before God ... serving others ... meeting their needs.  I always have a plan but that plan is bendable, and if needs be, breakable.  I have prevented certain instruments ... I have changed songs ... sets ... etc.  If I agree to minister at a church that feels distortion is not appropriate then I play clean ... I am not there to fix them unless that is what I have let them know I am doing.  There are no Trojan Horse ministries in Christ.  Deceit is sin ... no matter what lipstick is put on it.  The same goes for doctrinal disagreements as well ... but that is not this.

So I say that drums are not sinful .. they are inanimate.  I say the use of drums is not sinful .. they are an instrument .. a creation of noise for many uses ... I say that the use of drums in a service in worship are strategic and very useful ... not sinful ... unless the unity of believers has specifically requested them not to be used.  But I also say declaring them sinful ... demonic ... whatever ... is extremely sinful because it is indoctrinating preferences ... that is bondage ... that is sin.

This is a great and active topic of debate ... I am interested in hearing other thoughts, perspectives, and experiences.

That's my take anyways ... awesome question.  So what are your thoughts?

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  1. Another great article! I can also relate to it, as our pastor has very tight controls as to what songs our praise team is allowed or not allowed to play. It can be discouraging, as it appears to be based on pastor's "theology" and not our denominations theology, but I try to keep things positive for the sake of the praise team and the church.

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      Something to keep in mind is that the position of "worship leader" or "worship pastor" is a relatively newly separated role from the actual pastor ... and since it's separation the church has seen unprecedented civil wars. In all of my worship team training I remind everyone that, at the end of the day, the worship leader during the service is always the senior pastor ... regardless of what has been rehearsed ... what the schedule is ... doesn't matter ... the same right to change belongs to the slated worship leader too. The schedule is for discipline and planning ... but never to be worshiped. One of my strongest suggestions for musical practice (at least occasional) is to practice playing on the fly ...

      Still yet, if a pastor allows someone to take the role of worship leader, then that pastor has to give some room for decisions to be made, or else he needs to release that person ... bc war is inevitable. I find that a lot of pastors have very weak leadership skills ... especially when it comes to leading subordinate leadership ... and cause issues that could be extremely avoidable. Simply put, if you have to micromanage your subordinate leadership, then they are not leadership, they are interns. But a lot of pastors also don't go to leadership schools either ...

      At the end of the day I don't have issue with my pastor asking me to stay away from certain songs if I can do two things ..
      1) get a decent explanation of why
      2) be allowed to voice concern about the reasoning

      I myself don't accept any position without first interviewing the person trying to recruit me ... they find it strange but the better of them have also found it comforting ... to know I am not just desperate to find a stage but care about my fit ... I won't accept a position from a micromanager ... but I also won't accept a position from a manager who is not involved and invested into what I am doing.

      I would suggest teaching your team the value of an involved and invested pastor ... to be ok with stated boundaries ... because even trying to squelch frustrated team members is allowing division to live ... and no minister is called to highlight the character/experience flaws of his or her leader ...

      I would also suggest staying in your pastor's ear (without coming across as a bug) and trying to get him to possibly look at new material ... truth is there are several "worship songs" that I wouldn't let my worship team sing .. and personal theology is the source of all denominational theology ... without personal theology you are not a free thinking Christian ... don't be put off by that.

      I pray that God will give you guys clarity and bind your unity ...

  2. We all have to trust that what we are doing, Is the right things for the right reason for God's glory

    I have been a musician for many years on and off, I have used many different guitar sounds and effects in secular bands in my past.

    Today I use several sounds and guitars for praise and worship, and for song writing, but we must draw a line between Church/ Worship, and secular music, In Gods house we are there to praise God and worship him,

    There needs to be a clear difference in Gods house, we are not to be the same as the world out there. otherwise what is the point of declaring how great our God is.

    I am all for modern music, I myself love to play many different styles. but in Gods house it has to be praise and worship to God and not a sunday concert. if i want a concert i can go and pay to see one.

    I love drums, guitars, keyboards, bass, not to long ago I wrote a song called watch out, i placed it on reverb nation, and it reached no 1 in the local charts for several was not your average church song, but it was simply about time being short and the lost hearing the call of God, In my church it received very mixed views ( but in the secular chart it received great feedback) I PRAY THE RIGHT MESSAGE WENT OUT.
    All I am really saying is that there is a time and a place for different music, to reach different people.
    Sunday is solely for praise and worship to God in what ever form you do it. lets praise praise praise God with all types of instruments

    1. Thanks for the comments ... glad you have rededicated your life.

      I don't even mind if it's a concert so much if it's a concert for the glory of God ... that's a semantics thing really. I think you nailed it with intent ... if I get up on a stage to play so others can see how great I play, I better be charging at the door ... because God is not receiving any of it.

      As a musician I get into it ... but I know within myself the difference of being "into it" vs show boating ... and we have no place show boating if we are supposed to be exalting our God.