Using Christian Music Effectively
Church history shows us that when scriptural lyrics are put to the musical styles people enjoy, the songs become a powerful force for good. For example, an opponent of Martin Luther lamented, "Luther�s hymns have destroyed more souls than his writings and speeches." His hymns "literally flew out of Luther�s study, landing in homes in places of work, and were sung in the markets, in the streets, and on the field (Spanish Monk Thomas a Jesus). I believe that Christian music can have the same power today, if we can unleash it upon our youth. Here are some ideas:
1 � Pursue group worship through song with excellence. Whether you sing with one guitar, or a team of worship leaders, try to ensure that next year�s worship will be better than this year�s. Never think of your message as the main event, with the music as merely a warm-up. Remember, the longest book in the Bible is a song book (Psalms). King David wrote that praising God through song pleased Him more than the sacrifices (Ps. 69:30,31). In the Old Testament, 4000 Levites were appointed to praise God with instruments and 288 trained singers with their voices. Doesn�t sound like an afterthought to me.
2 � Be a good missionary. The Apostle Paul became all things to all men to reach them (I Cor. 9:19-23). Do you adapt to the musical language of your youth, or expect them to adapt to your musical language? Never assume that what you think is great music will be heard by them as great music. Continually ask them (not just a few youth) which songs move them and what style of worship they respond to.
3 � Acquaint them with Christian music in styles they will listen to. The Barna Research Group found that while 85% of our church youth live on a daily diet of 3.5 hours of secular music, the great majority of them have never even heard of some of the most popular Christian groups. Yet, Barna found that the teens who are aware of Christian music in their stylistic preference, they tend to like it. (Today�s Teens, The Barna Research Group, Glendale, CA, 1991, pp. 25ff.) What an opportunity! Some ideas on letting the secret out:
- Find Christian songs that will help reinforce your weekly messages. Play the songs for them with the words on an overhead, or handed out. Insist on their total attention, since this is a part of the teaching time (not social time). (See Col. 3:16)
- Promote Christian concerts.
- Start a Christian music lending library. To join, you either pay the cost of a new tape, or donate a used Christian tape. Have someone put together check out cards in a file box, much like libraries use. Ask a couple of responsible youth to head up the ministry and display the tapes each week. Bookstores often throw away their dated cardboard book displays. Put in the word at several stores that you are interested in one.