The Worship Workshop

 

Articles to read and be blessed.

Songs  - by Colin Owen

Song construction & use.

You might think that we've got this aspect of worship sorted. After all, we've had loads of conferences, and training days, and there are umpteen books on the musical aspect of worship, (all of which rely on and quote scripture about praise). So, how is it that the church can't discern the difference between a praise song, and a load of drivel that someone wrote to fulfill a market need? Any takers? Songs should be written with a purpose, but that purpose should never be 'market' need. Songs should only minister either to God, or His people, never mammon.

When you travel round a bit as we have, you get a feel for what's going on out there. And musically what's going on out there is not good. Just because a song was written by a Christian, (famous or not), or appears in a song book or on an album, doesn't mean it's a praise song or suitable for use in worship times.

There are many songs available to us today, with the increased emphasis on music it's only natural that the number of songs increase. But it doesn't follow that what we get is quality with quantity, and what we desperately need is quality. There are some songs out there that really shouldn't be. I'm amazed at how many folk really like some songs that are very iffy, to the point of publicly arguing with you when you give seminars about the subject. The power of the flesh is considerable. So, what we have is a big mish mash of songs, many excellent, the vast majority so so, and some that should be filed under 'B' (for bin), but the mundane and B file songs get sung anyway, sometimes to the exclusion of the excellent. Where has discernment gone?

How could you conceivably imagine that songs that sing about enemy activity are suitable for praise and worship. And yet, a few years ago such a song was sung by 50,000,000 Christians during march for Jesus. How the devil must have enjoyed the attention.

"Hey guys, they're singing about me, and all the stuff I've been doing"


I know that when I say things like this I step on peoples toes, but those with 'itching ears' will not accept sound doctrine. Someone somewhere has to stand up and make a noise about what the church is offering up to God as worship.

Most of the trouble comes from folk writing songs from the flesh, rather than the spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but spirit gives birth to spirit. Flesh ministers to flesh, but spirit ministers to spirit. If you minister to the flesh it will get stronger, so which do you want, strong spirit, or strong flesh? Literally, one is death, the other life.

The church as a whole can not discern the difference between a fleshly response to a song, and a spiritual response. The initial outward signs can be similar, but the lasting signs are worlds apart. For instance, there is a big stream in America, who minister to the emotions with much of their music. They sing about their problems. Listen to the songs and you start to 'feel' empathy with what the song is saying, which usually means you start to feel down, with an awareness of 'problems'.

Emotion like this makes mistakes, and you'll find lots of them in today's songs. The Spirit however does not make mistakes, He never shoots Himself in the foot! The Spirit wants to sing about the Lord. Songs that sing either to, or about the Lord, lift your spirit, and guess what? You forget the problems! It must be better to sing about the answer to the problems, than the problems! A lot of the time it's dwelling on problems that makes folk susceptible to them in the first place, it certainly gives them credence. You can not sing about victory and overcoming at a snails pace, because these things are joyful. That's why so much of this American stream's music is soooooo slow and dreary.

Try leading a congregation into singing in the spirit after singing an emotional song. It'll fall flat. The above mentioned church stream will never discover this however, because they don't believe in public expressions of the spirit i.e. singing in tongues. So go there and you are forced to sing what is put before you with no opportunity to express yourself personally to God from your spirit. In other words, no chance is given for the spirit to retaliate against all the flesh. Considering the war that goes on between the two this seems to be somewhat unwise if not ungodly, and definitely unbiblical. Not only is the flesh being glorified, but the Spirit is being quenched. A bias that is to the devil's advantage. On the other hand, sing a song that points folk to God, and they'll just flow on into singing in the spirit like it's the natural thing to do, which it is, in churches that believe the Bible.

You see, flesh cannot worship God. That's worth saying again, flesh can not worship God. Neither does God accept anything from the flesh, especially worship. Only spirit can worship God (John 4:23, 24).

So, what do we do about it?

Golden rule number one:

Follow scripture, and test everything (every song). Not every spirit is from God, and the devil has his song writers just like he has his preachers. So, test song lyrics against scripture to see if they match up. Roughly in line is not good enough, they must match up. If in any doubt, don't use the song. There's no shortage! If a song needs to be interpreted it's bad. And beware, even scripture can be inappropriate for praise & worship.


Golden rule number two:

Categorize the songs. Look at what the song is saying, and use it accordingly. Prayer songs are NOT worship, even if they are slow, use them at prayer times. A worship song allows you to express your heart to God as AN OFFERING. It doesn't ask for anything, it offers.


Golden rule number three:

At praise & worship times, only use songs that focus on the Lord. No other focus is acceptable. In order to praise God, you have to sing about HIM, and to worship Him, you have to sing TO HIM. Anything else is misguided, however nice the tune that gives everyone goose bumps.


Golden rule number four:

Avoid emotion like the plague. Don't sing songs that encourage you to look in His face or hold Him in our arms etc. This is non scriptural emotional drivel. And watch out for pride! There are lots of songs that sing about us, and what we've done, or are going to do. There's a song going round now, that says, "I went to the enemies camp, and I, took back what he stole from me." People sure love to sing it, but, ask them where the enemies camp is, and how did they get there etc. It's only a song will be the reply. It's a lie is what it is, unless they actually 'did' go there and do it...


Singing in church (or anywhere else) that you did something, when you didn't do it, is a lie, and making yourself out to be something you're not, i.e. brave, is contemptible, and glorying in it by singing about it is pride! And don't give me any of that "I did it in spirit" stuff, most folk are too embarrassed to raise their hands and too scared to go witness to their neighbour, let alone going and sorting out the devil, spiritually or otherwise. Only Jesus took back what was stolen, how dare we say we did it,when it was Jesus.


Song writers:

Think about who's going to sing the song. Some songs are just for the writer, maybe they express a particular time in the writers life for instance. There are many such songs. Mainly it is not appropriate for other people to sing such songs, they're personal.

If you are writing a praise or worship song, remember the golden rule: praise is about God, worship is to God. If you want the song to be congregational, it must be valid for them. It's dangerous to write about personal things, and get others to sing them. We don't want to encourage folk to sing lies, and most will just sing what ever is put in front of them. Song writing is a ministry, and an important one. It speaks into peoples lives, make sure it speaks the truth. And make sure that God called you to do it. If it's not anointed it's flesh.

Make it simple! The folk in church haven't been to music college, even if you have. Don't ask or expect them to perform. If the song requires their concentration then there usually isn't enough left for God! The song is not important, the response of the 'worshipper' to the song is. The song is only a vehicle by which the people focus on the Lord. If you want the song to be noticed you're in the wrong job. If you just can't stand simple music, you're in the wrong job!

Pastors:

Appoint a music director, someone who has both biblical and musical knowledge, and a servant heart. Someone you trust. If you don't have one in the church yet, pray one in. Never make do and mend, always get God's man, or woman for the job. The director acts as a filter to get rid of any rubbish BEFORE it gets to your flock. Prevention is always better than cure. Healthy praise & worship equals a healthy church, and one that will grow. Jesus said, "If I am lifted up, I will draw all men." If your church really lifts up the name of Jesus in its services, it will grow. Get your congregation singing the truth and your work load will decrease. Try it. The Word works!


Worship leaders:

As you're the ones who pick the songs, most of what I've said here is down to you. They can only sing what you pick. The words you make them look at will affect them, be aware of this. That's why it's so important to be led by the Spirit. He knows what's needed, He knows what's good for them. Some times He will lead you away from known paths, follow Him always, no matter how it looks, He knows what He's doing. Make it your goal to get those sheep into the presence of God, and once there, leave them there as long as you can. There's no finer place for them to be, and nothing is important enough to get in the way, especially the notices! (smile).


Congregation:

Don't just blindly follow by singing songs that don't apply to you. If the words of the song don't have relevance to you personally, don't sing them. Better to be silent than sing lies, you can always sing in the spirit instead. Don't put up with misguided worship leading. Talk to leaders if the songs they pick are not correct. Talk to leaders if they focus you on them and not the Lord. Music can be an idol, so can a worship leader, don't stand for it, it's your church remember, fight for it. Don't wait for someone else to do it, they probably never will. And don't leave all to the pastor, he has a lot to do as it is. Help him by pointing out to him what the Spirit of God has shown you. Do it lovingly, we are all in the same family remember. Above all, enter in to your times of praise and worship. Treat each one as though it's your last chance, God is so worth it.


For the Lord,


Colin.