Music in the Church – Where we’ve been

Posted on May 17, 2012 by


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

There has been a continuous debate about corporate worship since bible times. The most famous probably being the interaction of Jesus and the women at the well. When things started to get too personal for her she changed the subject to something she knew everyone had an opinion on, the right way to worship God.

Over time the friction points have shifted back and forth, from stylistic to theological to ecclesiastical and back to stylistic. Just to sum up where we seem to be right now let me give a little 30,000 ft view of the situation as I see it. The church split into west and east in 1054a.d. based on where the succession of leadership in the church was. The Protestants decided to split off from the Catholic church based on who/what held authority and who had the right to interpret scripture, also some heavy corruption. The protestants split a thousand different ways based on which earthly leader they followed, smaller points of doctrine, and locale. Fast forward… America developed into a state of assumed “Christendom”. This seemingly peaked in the 1950’s with mass achievement of the American dream, general acceptance of Judeo-Christian morals, and the rise of influential men and women of faith (Billy Graham, Martin Luther King jr., Aimee Semple McPherson). The 1960’s saw a shift in popular culture and several cultural revolutions (Feminism, The Sexual Revolution, etc…) Within this cultural shift the Jesus Movement emerged and birthed several new branches of the church and established a new standard for integrating popular musical styles with the worship of Jesus Christ.

Since then we have been in a holding pattern with church music. The rise of the Jesus Movement and their general rejection by the more conservative churches in the U.S.  established two sides of what has been called “the worship wars.”  We have seen each side develop and various views spring up in reaction to this or that, creating an incredibly diverse spectrum of views.

Recently the issue has started to become less and less heated. This is partly because culture has shifted even further left and thus the spectrum we are used to is shifting, the middle has become the right and the left has become the middle, and partly because those of the older generation that held so strongly to their traditions are, as morbid as this may sound, are dying.

So today, 2012, we are faced with a chance to ask more biblical/philosophical questions that get closer to the core of corporate worship and move away from an opinion based debate.

Next we’ll look at what the methods have generally been in recent history, and where we should be going.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Posted in: Music, Theology