News Flash – If you ask the wrong questions, you get the wrong answers.

Yeah, I know, thank you for that, Captain Obvious.

But let me explain what I mean and what that has to do with church.

Churches like to fight about music.   It’s a big issue.

Well, let me rephrase that.   It’s a big issue that shouldn’t be a big issue.   

I’ve attended worship services with full orchestras.   

I’ve attended worship services with some of the most awe inspiring organs at least on this side of Michigan.

I’ve attended worship services with guitars and drum sets.  

I’ve attended worship services where the entire music portion of the service was led by a collection of drums – various drums dating back to drums used in Bible times.

I’ve attended worship services where I didn’t understand a single word – oh wait, I did understand “Amen.”    All of the singing was acapella – without instruments in a foreign language.

I’ve attended worship services where we were led by a choir that would do the Mormon Tabernacle Choir proud. 

I’ve attended worship services where the music was all led by a guy sitting on a bar stool with a single guitar and a microphone.

And every one of them had three potential outcomes……

They spoke to my soul  and  either helped me through my struggles and the challenges of my life.

Or

They called and urged me to be a better Christian and to reach out to the hurting, the unsaved and share the good news of Jesus.

Or

They made the service boring, flat, unmoving, hard to listen to and non-motivational.    I left the service feeling like I had not just spent time in the presence of God. 

So what are the wrong questions?

  • Why are we using the organ?
  • Why does the minister insist on playing the guitar?
  • Why aren’t we playing more “contemporary” songs?
  • How come they have to use drums?
  • It’s just wrong to play any songs that we don’t know – why do they do that?
  • How do “they” expect me to worship when they play that type of music?

Those questions are all focusing on style of music.    It’s not the style that’s the important thing.  

Oh, don’t get me wrong, style is important.   Not everyone likes organ music.    Not everyone likes guitars and guys in jeans playing them. 

And that’s okay.   Actually that’s good.  That’s why there are plenty of different churches with plenty of different styles around.

Instead of saying, “Why are we using the organ?”   The church should be saying, “Can we minister to our congregation and our community best by using the organ?”

Instead of saying, “Why does the minister insist on playing the guitar?”  The church should be saying, “Will our community members feel more or less comfortable coming to our services if the minister plays the guitar?”

Instead of saying, “Why aren’t we playing more contemporary songs?” The church should be asking, “Would playing more contemporary music help our youth and younger generations connect to Christ better?”

Instead of saying, “How come they have to use drums?” The church should be asking, “Are we structuring the music portion of our worship services to be concerts/performances or are they truly worship filled opportunities?”

Instead of saying, “It’s just wrong, why do they play songs we don’t know?”  The church should be asking, “How can we teach new, enriching and Spirit filled songs to our congregation so that they can learn them, grow from them and be blessed by them?”  

Until we, as a church, start asking the right questions, until we start realizing that the style of the music in church isn’t nearly as important as what the music does, we’re going to struggle with questions that don’t need answering.    We’re going to struggle with questions that are petty and often way more controversial than they should be.

And we’re going to appear to those outside the church as a group that fights about things that don’t matter.   

Do you want to be known as someone who fights about things that don’t matter?

I don’t.  

Tom