IIIM Magazine Online, Volume 3, Number 49, December 4 to December 10, 2001

Music Matters
Show 4

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, and welcome to Music Matters. I'm Robert Barnes.

It's an odd trick that Satan has played on the church — at various times in history, Satan has convinced the church that by being less God-centered in their public worship, they can be more obedient to God. It happened in the early church with an inappropriate emphasis on Mary and other saints. It happened in the Second Great Awakening as men thought that aggressive evangelism was the heart of Christianity. It happens in some churches today as the King James Bible or tongues or signs and wonders sometimes become the object of worship, rather than God.

But in your average church, this deadly exchange is subtler. More and more often, worship of God in the way he has stated in Scripture is redirected to a worship of man and his values as dictated by society.

How do I know if my church is becoming man-centered? Here are some general questions to ask that may uncover some tendencies at your church. The first two are more specific to worship; the last two are questions about your church at large.

1. Do the lyrics of the songs we sing talk about me, or about God? Even the ones that mention God, are they really more focused on me? Even a simple exercise like counting the 1st person pronouns in your lyrics, and comparing that to the number of times you sing about God, can be revealing.

2. Are the sermons preached more about God, or about me? Is God's glory exalted in the preaching and teaching at your church, or is your preaching more focused on people? It's currently vogue to make sermons very topical, focused on people's felt needs, codependency, or family relationships. The Bible does address these topics, but the summary of Paul's teaching was that he preached "Christ and him crucified." Why would we want to do anything less?

3. Do you spend more money on your sound system, air conditioning, and other creature comforts than you do on missions? Is your church more concerned about redecorating the foyer than making the nations glad with the Gospel? This may seem like an odd question, and it certainly has its limits, but in this world, you follow the money trail to find out what people value. What do you value in your church?

4. Do you practice Biblical, Matthew 18-based church discipline? If you don't, then is fear of man getting in the way of your fear of God? A church that is too afraid of what people might think to do discipline is not afraid enough of God.

I know those are hard questions, and as a worship director, I struggle to plan God-centered worship each week. I'll be praying for you as you struggle with me. Next week, we'll move on the second of three marks of excellent worship, the second being the biblical character of the song lyrics and the worship of God in a Biblical manner.

This is Robert Barnes, and I hope you'll join me again as we discover why God thinks Music Matters.