IIIM Magazine Online, Volume 4, Number 13, April 1 to April 6, 2002

Music Matters
Show 20

by Robert Barnes

Originally aired Monday at 5:50 P.M. on WTLN 950 AM in Orlando, Florida, Music Matters is a weekly radio show that explores the nature of and antidote for the worship wars that exist in the church.

Good day, this is Music Matters and I'm Robert Barnes. I'm on staff at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Winter Park, Florida. Worship Wars are started over unsanctified preferences. Those who prefer traditional music are on one side, and those who fancy contemporary are on the other. Both sides want to attend the same church, both sides don't know how to biblically resolve conflict, and so the war for control over the order of worship begins.

The good news is this age of conflict is coming to an end. The older folks in the church (those 35 and under) like to fight — we like to scrap over ideas. But most of the young people today won't fight over worship styles. They will simply leave the church. They will, if there are leaders among them, start another church.

Well, you may say, that's no problem. That's just God's way of doing church planting. Yes, church planting with immature rebels and no support structure of older, wiser men and women. Sarcasm does not communicate well over the radio, so I'll resist the temptation and just say that this is a very Bad Idea.

If we are going to create mature, well-founded churches in the third millennium, we are going to have to learn how to biblically resolve the conflict over music preferences. If we do not, we will segregate our churches according to age and music preferences. This will create anemic worshipers, with one group cut off from tradition and maturity while the other languishes in the baptized irrelevant. This, again, is a very Bad Idea.

It should be no surprise to my listeners that contrary to the title of this show, I believe that the key to healthy churches is not one kind of music or another—the key to biblical, relevant, and God-centered churches is repenting of our sin and believing and preaching the Gospel; first to ourselves, and next into all the world.

How can you take steps to resolve the conflict in your church over music or worship styles? Here's some tough advice from the trenches.

If you are in leadership, grow up. Use the authority you've been given to create biblical consensus, healthy compromise. If you are laity, hold your tongue and hold your leadership to their ordination vows, which should have included a pledge to uphold the peace and purity of the local church. And if they divide the church over music styles, fire them. You don't pay people who love their own baptized musical preferences more than they love feeding God's little ones.

If either side in the debate claims they must continue the conflict or risk loosing effectiveness in our mission to the world, then remind them that the Bible-way for reaching the world is through manifesting love for one another. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35).

It's tough advice. Dying to self always appears rather harsh. Lord, teach us to walk and sing and play and work in holy unity. I'm Robert Barnes, and this has been Music Matters.