The final point of this series brings these principles to consider.
21.The frequently debated issue between contemporary praise songs and hymns is a false issue because every song we sing was once contemporary. A wise leader is more concerned about the theology of a song than he is about when it was written. He uses a smorgasbord of musical forms and arrangements. The quality of music, and most of all its theology, is the issue!Amazing Grace, part of the richest history in music, was once a contemporary song. And you may rest assured that not everyone hearing this song for the first time was an ardent fan. Numerous “contemporary songs” have already embedded themselves in the corporate evangelical conscience, and many others “perished” after a couple of years. The same is true of music from every era. So let us resolve not to spend time uselessly debating with the brethren that which is not debatable. Rather let us see to it that what we ask our people to hear and sing is replete with excellent theology.
22.Watch your men. Are they participating and, if so, how? If a fourth or more are not singing, the songs are not well chosen. Move to other hymns that they have known since childhood. The men are the weathervanes here, not because men are more important than women or youth, but because they tend to be less musically gifted or inclined to sing publicly. If men are singing lustily, everybody else will be singing energetically.
23.Many churches spend too much money on the licensing of music written or performed in the last 50 years. Most of the music for which they pay is neither lasting nor memorable. On the other hand, more than 600 hymns in the hymn books are public domain and do not cost the church a penny. Use your money to win the lost – not pay licenses! The organization that receives these “tithes” is called Christian Copyright Licensing International and the Church Copyright License. A church with about 50 members may be out $100 while a megachurch may be expected to pay $2000 or more. First, do your average church members have any idea of the cost they are paying? And while I have no objection to a musical artist making money from a product any more than I would of a pastor receiving a book royalty, this does have a way of putting the wrong shoe on the foot, and the tendency toward commercialization of music grows worse. The greatest songs cost nothing but effort to offer praise to God, and one is not supporting an industry that is often not noted for holiness.
24.Remember that worship can be in music, but such is neither the full content or the essence of worship and must not be so defined. Reading the Word of God, giving as stewards of possessions, sharing testimony, offering prayer, the exposition of Holy Scripture, and appealing for decisions are also essentials of worship. And every one of these actions are aspects of worship in which every worshipper becomes intimately involved.
25.On the other hand, the music pastor properly understood is one of the most essential leaders in the congregation. He needs to be chosen by the pastor, and he must work hand in glove with the pastor to produce great opportunities for the worship of God.
26.Under no circumstances should anyone working to lead worship force the preacher to have to recover the congregation as he begins preaching. For example, I once had to follow a “band” that featured a trap set solo just before I spoke on evangelism. Of course, there was no musical content or theological content. Alarmingly, the drummer made the thing sound like a withering blast from an AK-47. Naturally the curious audience wondered how on earth I would ever get to my message. I had the same concern.
The work of the musicians should lead naturally into the message from the Word of God to be delivered. In every way, the message should be complemented by the music, whether congregational or some special group.
Patterson’s twenty-six laws are in keeping with the disclaimer I offered at the first. I wish that others sporting more knowledge than I would take up the subject of these last five blogs. Nor do I wish to constrain you to adopt my position. Rather I deeply desire “to stir up your pure minds” to the consideration of these matters. Our youth in large numbers no longer attend our churches. Church membership is in decline. To the degree that these statistics reveal the spiritual secrets of the hearts of men, I am happy to see them. To the degree that they demonstrate the failure of the church by adoption of the world’s stage, I remain desperately sorry. May God aid his ancient people!