So we’ve stirred up a little bit of controversy at the church I serve the past few weeks by using secular songs as background music during the greeting time. (As a creative team, we were a little surprised, because we began the practice in November of 2010 with Miley Cyrus Party in the USA; and the church has used secular songs for 13 years) Personally, I think it’s a great compromise between making a cultural reference without creating a performance environment, which is one of the values that shapes our worship services.
I digress. So, here’s the policy I wrote and shared with the elders that will be shared with the church. I’m posting it here to aid and abet my fellow church creatives:
Position statement regarding the use of “secular” music during the Assembly:
1) All Truth is God’s Truth, regardless of the source. The personal righteousness of a creator or artist has surprisingly little to do with the truthfulness of their work. Many humans who deny God in their personal lives create artifacts that celebrate His Truths. We make no apologies for using work (music, video, stories, quotes or otherwise) by non-christians which contains Truths of God and/or Scripture.
2) Not every action during a service or assembly is intended for corporate worship. We assemble the church for a weekend service for a variety of reasons: fellowship, worship, teaching, celebrating, sharing, testimonies & announcements. Generally speaking, corporate worship songs are songs we sing to God. Sometimes there are songs we sing for fun, for teaching, or to edify the body. Our current Harpeth Songs Project is a great example of this.
3) Music is a part of how we participate in our culture. God has not asked us to withdraw from our society; he has called us to reach our community and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with them. For that reason we from time to time make use of secular music, as an act of hospitality towards those who are unfamiliar with church culture. Similarly, we also sing a hymn every week as act of hospitality for those who grew up in church, so they might hear something that is familiar to them. 1 Cor 9:20-22.
4) There is no clear boundary between the Sacred and the Secular. The whole earth is His, and everything in it. Any attempt to delineate the vulgar from the holy fails, and places us in God’s seat. Man looks at the outside, but God judges the Heart. We use worship music by despicable and fallen Christian musicians- some are adulterers and frauds; we also use music from atheists and pagans that is profoundly worshipful to those of us that know God. Strange as it may be, all beauty is God’s, whether it is brought to life by a faithful Christian or outright pagan. To us, this only reinforces our belief that God is alive and active in all men, just as he used Rahab, Pharoh, and Pilate’s wife in the Bible.
5) We currently use secular music in the following ways:
- As a teaching example (negative or positive)
- As an act of fellowship/hospitality
- To knowlingly participate in our culture.
This blog has a mixed audience, so I’m sure there will be lots of discussion. Keep it kind.