Greg Gilbert on Music in Worship

Greg Gilbert has written a couple of excellent posts concerning music in worship. This particularly hits home as our church takes biblical fidelity and excellence in music very seriously. Here are some excerpts from the first post:

"There’s a whole generation of young people [I would only add that this post does not only apply to young people!] out there now, though, who aren’t emotionally affected by words, whose fires are only stoked when those words are accompanied by great rhythms, skilled instrumentation, and a certain well-recognizable mood that typically accompanies Christian “praise-and-worship.” And the result is that you have young [or old] people church-hopping around town, and one of the main criteria of their shopping is “the worship,” by which more often than not they mean “the music.” You have young [and old] Christians feeling discouraged because—despite the fact that they sit under faithful preaching of the word Sunday after Sunday—they say they haven’t “felt close to God” in so long. Maybe there’s something important going on there. But there’s also a good chance, I’d argue, that they just haven’t had a good endorphin rush since the last conference they attended."
"The bottom line, I suppose, is that it would do every Christian well to do some honest heart-searching about what makes them feel “close to God.” Can you feel close to God just by reading or saying the words, “In Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”? Would you be able to function in a church that’s great in every way except the music? If not, you probably need to give some thought to whether your spiritual life is dependent on something it should not be dependent on."

Here are a list of questions he asks in his second post:

- Do you get bored when someone reads a longish passage of Scripture in your church? Do you start wishing they’d get on with the music?
- Do you need music playing in the background for the reading of Scripture to affect your emotions?
- Does a prayer seem too “plain” or “stark” to you if it doesn’t have music playing behind it?
- Do you feel depressed a few weeks after a worship conference because you haven’t felt close to God in a long time?
- Do you desperately look forward to the next conference you’re going to attend because you know that, finally, you’ll be able to feel close to God again?
- If you’re in a big church with great music, are you able to worship when you visit your parents’ small rural church?
- Do you ever feel worshipful in the middle of the week, at work, at school, etc. just because of thinking about God and his grace? Or does that only happen when the music’s playing?
- Do you tend to feel closer to God when you’re alone with your iPOD than you do when you’re gathered with God’s people in your church?
- Do you feel like you just can’t connect with other believers who haven’t had the same “worship experiences” that you have? Can you only connect with other believers who “know what it feels like to really worship?”
- Is your sense of spiritual well-being based more on feeling close to God, or knowing that you are close to God because of Jesus Christ?