Tag Archives: Christian music

Does God Hear? by Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis

by Ken Ham on February 26, 2013

Many churches now place a heavy emphasis on praise and worship music in their services. While God loves good music, it’s important to make sure our priorities line up with Scripture. What does God reveal about “true worship” that pleases Him?

To begin this article I need to make something very clear. I love music. In fact, both my wife and I play the piano. I love to listen to Christian music as I travel—and I love to sing praises to our God as I worship in church.

Also, one of my closest friends is Answers in Genesis’s songwriter and singer, Buddy Davis. I have encouraged Buddy over the years to produce CDs of the many songs he has composed and presented at concerts at the Creation Museum and churches around the world.

Having said that, I want to address what I see as a problem—something that troubles me. I realize that when you begin to talk about music, it can evoke very emotional responses. But I actually don’t want to address music styles or content in this article (not that such is not important). I believe something else needs to be addressed.

A New Priority in the Church

I am in a rather interesting position to view what is happening in much of the church. I have traveled for over thirty years across the United States and to other parts of the world speaking at conferences and churches. I get to see patterns from a big-picture perspective. My observation holds true across denominations and national boundaries (with some exceptions, of course).

I would like to suggest that in many instances—particularly from my personal observation in the larger churches—music has become the dominant part of church services, and the teaching of God’s Word has become less of a priority. The same is true in certain Bible conferences, particularly those geared for young people.

Let me share just some of my observations. I encourage you to consider them carefully.

  • There is what they call a “praise and worship” time with a band usually on stage. The congregation, or audience, is asked to stand and sing for thirty to forty minutes—sometimes for an hour or so.
  • Now, as I look around the room, I often find that many people are not singing.
  • Many of the songs are sung over and over and over again.
  • When people finally sit for a sermon or teaching, this time is often less than the music. And many people seem tired and distracted.
  • Many times, the band’s words cannot be understood. You can recognize them only if they are shown on the screen.

Let me share a couple of personal experiences that show how this mindset can hinder the teaching of God’s Word. Sometimes a pastor says something like, “We tried to cut the praise and worship time so you could have the fifty minutes you wanted to speak, but I can’t really control what the worship pastor will do.” And so I often end up with less time than what I prepared for and what is needed.

Some worship pastors have said things like, “We’ll let you set your computer up after we’ve finished our practicing. After all, the praise and worship is the most important part of the service.” If I hope to teach God’s Word effectively, as the invited speaker, I need to make sure the computer works well with the church’s A/V systems.

I have seen this pattern in other countries too. Churches have a “praise and worship” time that is more often like a concert to attract people to the church, while the teaching time for God’s Word is secondary.

Now, to be sure, not all churches are like this, and I’m not saying churches should not have a “praise and worship” time. But if young people and adults get the idea that music is more important than the study of God’s Word, then where will they and their churches be spiritually in the coming years?

Biblical teaching and worshipful music do not have to be in competition. When properly done, both are important aspects of true “praise and worship” that glorifies and pleases the Lord.

No More Excuses

I have had many pastors, particularly youth pastors, tell me that music is where the kids “are at” today, and music helps keep them in church and attract others. But when I’ve been given opportunity to speak to these young people, I find they are filled with questions and doubts about God’s Word, and they desperately want answers that can’t be found in a praise chorus.

Let me give a specific example. I was asked to speak at a service for young people. I sat through almost an hour of loud music and couldn’t understand most of the words. Then I was asked to speak for only about twenty minutes because, I was told, “Young people can’t sit for long and listen to talks these days.” Then I could have a question time afterward.

So I did my best in twenty minutes and asked for questions. Those young people bombarded me: Where did Cain get his wife? How do you know the Bible is true? Why doesn’t God show Himself to us? What about carbon dating? How do you explain dinosaurs? How could Noah fit the animals on the Ark? We went on for over an hour.

Afterward, the youth pastor said, “I’ve never seen them so interested. I never knew Billy could even ask a question, let alone the one he asked. What happened?”

What happened? Well, the beliefs of these young people are being challenged at public school. From my experience, I know many of their doubts, and from the research we conducted for the book Already Gone, we know that two-thirds of these young people will leave the church by college age. So I began giving them answers to help them understand how we know God’s Word is true.

MANY CHURCH LEADERS HAVE ADOPTED MUSIC STYLES SIMPLY TO ATTRACT PEOPLE, INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON THE THINGS THAT MOST PLEASE GOD.

What’s the point of all this? Again, I’m not against having time for music. But I believe many church leaders have adopted music styles simply to attract people, instead of focusing on the things that most please God: music and vital teaching that most meet the flock’s needs and glorify the Lord. People want to hear solid biblical truth and answers to the skeptical questions of this age. They want to know how to live Christ-honoring lives and proclaim and defend the gospel to people who are thoroughly “evolutionized.”

Now, the Bible does not prescribe how much time should be allotted to teaching and music. But in a world that increasingly attacks the Bible’s authority, I submit that the pastor, more than ever, needs to equip his people with biblical truths so that they can function as true Christ followers (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

Furthermore, many churches tell their adults and young people that they can believe in evolution and history over millions of years, as long as they just trust Jesus. Or they totally ignore this topic. Yet I believe that today’s attack on God’s Word is the same strategy Satan employed in Genesis 3 when he asked Eve, “Did God really say . . . ?” This attack on the Bible’s trustworthiness is destroying the coming generations. Meanwhile, church members get together and have long “praise and worship” times that relegate Bible teaching to a much lesser role than music.

But is God hearing many of these churches? If we are compromising God’s Word and not teaching and obeying His Word as we should, is it possible that God would say to these modern churches what He did to the Israelites of old?

“Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments” (Amos 5:23). “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).

Amen! By God’s grace, may we get our priorities straight and help people to praise and worship Him as He deserves—giving primacy to His Word in all aspects of our personal lives and church services!

Ken Ham is the founder and president of Answers in Genesis–USA. He has edited and authored many books about the authority of God’s Word and the impact of evolutionary thinking on our culture, including Already Compromisedand The Lie.

Evangelical, worship?

For those who think that I’m being unreasonable in respect to “big-box, happy-clappy” “church”, I submit the following from John Stackhouse in Leadership Journal (Winter 2015 p 14). Leadership Journal is a great publication, all due respect to them and John Stackhouse, but neither are known for their support of “high-church/liturgical” worship.   

“As for reciting creeds, well, no: evangelicals normally do not recite creeds in our services. [help me out here, do you really believe that if you say Jesus a couple of times in a sermon and then make the rest of it about you, don’t do any of the things that Jesus told us to do or we do in order to strengthen ourselves in Jesus, that is being a Christian? Seriously how do you figure? We are told that we are supposed to take our relationships seriously and then we make the one with Jesus all about me? How does that work?] “Evangelicals that are not part of liturgical traditions – and that’s most of us – instead tend to worship in “hymn sandwich” [and what evangelicals sing are not hymns] services: lots of singing, with maybe a greeting and some announcements in the interstices, then a longish sermon, then more singing – with perhaps a collection and a closing prayer … No call to worship, no confession and absolution of sin, no series of Scripture readings (OT, Gospel, Epistles,) no congregational prayers, NO “OUR FATHER” [???], no Creed … And so on. It’s pretty bad – and it’s actually regressing…

…nowadays the trend-setting churches seem to have fallen back into two halves – singing and preaching – … that’s pretty much all there is to the service.” [pg 14 Leadership Journal]

Sorry folks that is not Christian worship! Throw Jesus’ Name around a couple of times and that’s Christian worship? Ya… No! Heavens, can’t mention sin! We have some sensitive souls here and anyway, we’re all basically good suburban-living people. None of that blood and gore stuff, the crucifixion? Just doesn’t work for us. There certainly won’t be a crucifix in any “Evangelical” sanctuary and ya, no cross either. Lord’s Supper? Body and Blood! Really? Confession? I refer you back to line 3 of this paragraph. And no Lord’s Prayer? What is the point? We were told to do these things, or at least we are honoring the Lord when we do this. The point of worship is to lift up and praise and worship God. One woman, from “evangelical” tradition, complained that I had my back to the audience most of the time. Ya, her words. No Creed? Really what do you believe? Ya, you, it’s all about you.

And gotta tell you, “sermons”? Pretty much Joel Osteen feel good, how can we have a better life, yada, yada. Hey there’s plenty of good Christian music out there. I have no problem with Christian music, I will sprinkle it into worship once in awhile to enhance the sermon. But, sorry, one reason why men do not get involved with Christian worship is because, when it’s singing, dancing around and a little gratuitous preaching, it’s hard to take it seriously. If guys really can’t see the point and have nothing to take seriously, they aren’t going to do it and this is alienating a lot of guys from Christ. The happy-clappy types will be called to account for the way that they don’t worship, that they make it too much about them and very little about Jesus.

This kind of worship is a travesty, it’s not worship. It’s self-gratification and mutual edification, but no room for God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Sorry, but we continue to look ridiculous and irrelevant to the rest of the world. If we don’t take Christ seriously, why on earth would the world?