Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Evaluating Church Music

This came out of some recent discussions I have had about what sort of music is appropriate to have children sing in a worship service.  However, I believe these broader principles would apply to church music across the board.  What do you think of these?

Questions for evaluating music to be used in a church service:

1. Is it Christian? If a Jew or Mormon or Buddhist could sing the song without pause, it is likely not a Christian song.

2. Does it mention Jesus (Christ) by name? Titles such as Savior and Lord are not wrong, but songs/hymns are most clear when the proper name is used. It leaves no room for confusion.

3. Does it mention the cross? Or does it speak nebulously about God’s love apart from this central teaching?

4. Does it balance Law and Gospel? (Especially troublesome is if Gospel is absent)

5. Does it suggest salvation has to do with my work, decision, commitment or heart, or does it rather make clear that we receive everything as a gift from God alone?

6. Does it rightly show our good works as a response to God’s good work in Christ, or does it leave the impression God justifies us in response to our action? Could it give such an impression?

7. Does it specifically teach some false doctrine (like the Rapture, for instance)?

8. Does it refer at all to the Means of Grace (Word and Sacraments of Baptism and Communion)? Or does it suggest we receive from God apart from such means?

9. Does it make prayer into a sacrament (which offers grace)? Does it suggest a certain prayer must be prayed to invite Jesus into our hearts? (Decision theology)

10. Is it scriptural? There should be a strong scriptural connection, rather than lofty and abstract concepts tied to no particular text.

11. Does it present a corporate view of the church, or does it overly emphasize the importance of the individual? (Us/We vs. I/Me) “Me-and-Jesus” music should be avoided.

1. Is the music beautiful?

2. Is the tune appropriate to the text? Does the “mood” fit?

3. Is the music inappropriately difficult for the singers?

4. Does the tune carry “baggage” (i.e., a familiar Christmas tune should not be used in Lent. Likewise certain secular tunes have strong associative ideas we might want to avoid)

5. Does the music “play on the emotions”? This should be avoided.

6. Is the music reverent?

7. Does the music have a timeless quality, or is it too strongly associated with a narrow style?


Mark Hunsaker said...

When you say: “Does the music 'play on the emotions'...” what do you mean?

I've heard this type of language before and I'm trying to understand it...

It would seem that all music evokes some kind of emotional response, perhaps you are suggesting that we should limit music to certain types of emotions. If that is so, which types?

Thank you,

Preachrboy said...


While I freely admit that most of the considerations in the "music" section are subjective....

I think it's sort of like the old (can't remember who said it) definition of pornography, "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it"

When it comes to music that plays on the emotions, "I know it when I hear it"