I did a little gardening today. The neighbor opposite our house stopped by to talk for a while. The discussion topics covered a few matters and eventually got to ‘church’. There are many things right and many things wrong with most, if not all, churches, depending which denomination you belong to and what your personal theological persuasion might be. But the one thing that seems to be general is “church is boring”. My neighbor, who is a fine Christian man with godly morals, said to me: “I can’t understand why the young people, and some older people say the church is boring because they don’t have drums, guitars, violins and brass instruments.” This is an old age issue … “church is boring”.
It is true that the Bible advocates the use of many different types of music instruments:
Ps 150:1 Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. 2 Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. 3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, 4 praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, 5 praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. 6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
There we have at least 7 different types of instruments, most of which make a vibrant sound. To use them, a church would need musicians. Otherwise, using them would be nothing more than an unintelligible noise … and God, being a God of order, would want beauty and harmony that produced sounds of wonder and delight that hearers could praise the Lord by.
On the other side of the scale, I’m pretty certain that the churches Paul and his fellow missionaries planted did not have all or even any of the instruments mentioned in Psalm 150. I’m of the opinion that many churches sang without music accompaniment.
Eph 5:19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God
In fact, apart from singing, praying and Scripture reading, the main ingredient of the gathering was the proclamation of the Word. Paul and his fellow workers were convicted and convinced that man has a singular problem and that problem is sin. For this reason, you will observe that every sermon and every teaching in the New Testament pointed at the heart for the purpose of conviction of sin with the intent of change through repentance and faith. To me, it seems that the Scriptures main thrust is to bring the message of Jesus’ penal substitutionary sacrificial death and glorious resurrection to the hearing of all people.
Having said this, the human race is lost in sin. This is something we must never forget or neglect. Now, I love upbeat music too, and many modern songs have great theology and good doctrine and do speak to the heart. But, we can never get away from the fact that God ordained preaching His Gospel and His Word to stab the heart with Truth. Here I believe the real problem exists … as I have said before, too often the pulpit has dead preachers. This means that they might bring “a word” but it might not be the Gospel! Because, when the dead preach, the congregation knows there is something wrong. They may not know what is wrong. In this state, because the heart wants ‘something’ and when it does not receive that ‘something’ from the pulpit, that heart assumes the problem is either the age of the congregation, the age of the preacher, the fact that there are few young people in the church … or that the music sucks because there are no drums, guitars, tambourines, flutes, cymbals and guitars. As an example, take the music. The music being dry and slow and soft means the church is boring to some. Yet, every argument needs to find the answer in whether the pulpit is alive or dead. The proper questions to ask are, “Does this church (in its preacher / pastor) teach the Bible properly? Is the preaching expositional (i.e., is the text explained)? Is the pastor / preacher born again?” You see, if the person or people preaching are spiritually dead, the church will be boring, yet if the person or people preaching are born again, then the church will be alive irrespective whether the music is alive (or whatever else the complaint is).
So, if the preaching is expositional and the gospel is preached to confront the hearts of the hearers and some feel the church is boring, then they need to look at their own heart. It might be that such people are themselves spiritually dead and are looking for something to meet their spiritual need, thinking that music might do it … or younger people or a change of pastor might do it … where the problem might be lying right there in their heart! The way you analyze a church is by starting with yourself and asking,, “Am I born again? Do I want to grow spiritually? Do I want to be obedient and fulfil my God given role in the church?” Then, you ask, “Is the preacher born again? Does he try hard to bring the Word of God faithfully to the congregation … or is his message not explaining the text? Is he entertaining the people or is he seeking to hit the heart with the Sword of God to convict for repentance, faith and life change?”
Dear God, thank you for every preacher who explains Your Word faithfully. Kindly help preachers to be diligent as they study to prepare a healthy spiritual diet for their people. Help us hearers to hear with spiritual ears. Amen.