They say that music is a universal language. Every culture has their own style and in many of those cultures, history is passed down through song. Music has been a huge part of my life. I can still remember some of the songs my siblings and I listened to while headed to our family vacations.
Like many things, my taste in music has changed over the years. There came a day where children’s songs were beneath me, then I discovered “praise choruses”, but I only listened to those at church. By high school, my genre of choice was modern country. But after becoming a mom something in me changed that caused me to give up country music all together. That change: I began actually listening to what I was singing.
I don’t listen to Christian radio anymore. Just as with Country music, I began to really listen to what was being said and sung and I wasn’t thrilled with the pattern I was seeing.
- The songs were overplayed. I’m not sure if this is true for all radio stations, but the Christian ones have an annoying habit of playing the same song over and over again to the point where the listener has tuned it out, or switched to a different station all together. For me, an overplayed song stops being effective in relaying a message to me, which is what christian/worship songs were designed to do in my opinion. Ultimately though, I felt that this pattern of overplaying ignored the implication of Psalm 96:1 “Oh sing to the LORD a new song” (emphasis mine).
- The message seemed shallow. Not only were the songs repeated many times throughout the day, the lyrics of those songs were also repetitive. Maybe I’m being a little harsh but as unfathomable as our God is, I find it hard to believe that today’s Christian artists can’t find more to say about him than what they’ve already put in the song. That’s not to say there isn’t a time and place for repetition, even the angels before the throne are repeating “Holy, Holy, Holy” the difference is that they are singing about the character of God, not man. (More on that in a minute). The bottom line is that we serve an unfathomable God who has left us thousands of his written words in the Bible. In my opinion, this eliminates any excuse for songs that only consist of a very few lines repeated again and again.
- The songs had the wrong focus. Here is my belief that has developed over the years and it serves as the driving force in choosing what I listen to. God created all things, including music, to bring glory to Himself. But so many mainstream Christians focus on the creation (people) rather than the creator. I realize this might be a fine line to walk, but I’m going to try. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have songs reminding us of who we are in Christ, sometimes I need that need that reminder myself. But if that song is only written to make me feel good about myself and doesn’t lead me to worship the God who rescued me from who I was, then I believe that song misses the point.
John Cooper, leader of the Christian rock band Skillet (notice I did not say worship band) recently wrote a warning to young church leaders that would be worth your time to read. Basically, he was calling these young people to go back to the basics and focus on and hold fast to the Word of God that they may be able to see the truth, not form their own. I believe the same message can apply to the Christian music community as well. If we are not careful to focus on the Word when we sing, we could very well end up with songs that hurt our walk rather than help.
What does all this have to do with parenting? In short, everything. As Christian parents it is our job to train our children in truth, to shape their view of God. And one of the easiest ways to do that is through music. Please don’t hear me suggest a legalistic approach and never listen to anything secular ever. Your entertainment choices are between you and God. But please do hear this: like movies and T.V., music, even Christian music, can have a way of desensitizing us to the truth. It can feed us incorrect doctrine or an improper view of God. And if we aren’t careful, it can lead us astray completely. Pay attention to the words you sing in church. Teach your children good songs whose lyrics come directly from Scripture and maybe even compare them with secular music (if they are older) showing them the difference between two. Check out Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church by Keith and Kristyn Getty and help them to understand that purpose of music is to bring glory to our immensely wonderful Savior God.