Six Biblical Principles for Music in Worship
#1 Music Does Not Equal Worship. Contrary to popular belief, worship is not merely the music we sing at church gatherings. Worship is a much broader activity the engages all of the believer’s life (Rom 12:1–2). Our church believes our worship is governed by what many call the, “regulative principle.” This principle states that our worship to God is determined by God. He tells us how to worship Him appropriately.
Therefore, we believe that Scripture tells us that believers worship when they read the Bible, sing the Bible, preach the Bible, pray the Bible, and see the Bible (ordinances). Therefore, music plays a role in helping us accomplish worship, but it is not worship itself.
#2: Truth Produces Emotion. Music is a wonderful tool in which human beings reflect the image of God through creativity and by invoking emotion. Still, music must remain its proper place—it is merely a tool. This means that the primary emphasis on music is not just on the key of the song, the melody, or tone; rather, the primary emphasis is on truth. Accurately conveying truth in our church’s worship produces the right kind of emotions. Truth before emotions, always.
#3 Singing is the Congregation’s Responsibility. Scripture is clear: singing is a congregational responsibility (Eph 5:18–21; Col 3:16–17). This means that every Christian joins in the act of singing and the primary voice heard in our Sunday gatherings is the voice of the collective congregation singing in unison.
#4 Simplicity in Musicianship. Biblically, Christians sing anywhere. Jesus sang after the Passover prior to praying in the garden (Mark 14:26). Paul and Silas were singing hymns deep into the night while they were imprisoned (Acts 16:25). This indicates that singing in Scripture does not require grandiose instrumentals and vocalists. While we must always strive for great musicianship, it is never done at the expense of the main point—congregational singing.
#5 Historic & Contemporary Song Choices. Christianity has a 2000 year history. It varies in time and location. This means that we have great access to hymns and songs from ages past (perhaps even in different languages) and from different places on earth. Our worship aims to reflect the rich heritage of Christian hymnody and songs rather than sticking to merely what is “latest and greatest.”
#6 Diverse Music to Reflect the Diversity of Life. Music is powerful because of the wide range of emotions it captures. Similarly, Scripture indicates a wide emotional range in the Christian life. These include sorrow and grief over sin; joy in our salvation; struggle in the fight for purity; commitment to serving Christ; and lament over living in a fallen world. Therefore, we aim to sing songs that accurately reflect the diversity of the Christian life as represented in Scripture. We aim to sing gospel-centered songs every week and songs relevant to the passages of Scripture we are reading and studying.