Secular Music In Church?

There’s really no good way to start this article other than to jump right in and acknowledge the chasmic divide on the issue.

Each side of the debate has valid and even scriptural points.

The issue at hand then, is not so much whether we can play secular music in church, but can the church choose unity as we move forward?

What direction are we moving anyway?

Are we going together or are we tearing ourselves apart? Is the type of music that we use in church something that we will allow to divide the body of Christ?

I can tell you with confidence that there IS a solution and it very much involves the shifting landscape of how we do ministry.( a great book on this is Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition) )

The book begins with a little history lesson. Sometime between 1960-1980 secular culture in America appeared to be threatening the sanctity of the Sabbath as commercial businesses began opening their doors for patronage on Sundays.

American Christian parents were thrown for a loop as they recoiled from what was now available to their children during a time that was supposed to be structured and sacred.

What was frightening and appeared even heretical on the surface actually revealed a longstanding issue. The home had become a place of secular culture and biblical teaching and Jesus culture was relegated to a two hour (maximum) window for one day a week.

In homes that were not particularly secularized, many were still guilty of having pushed off their responsibilities onto the church for guiding their children spiritually.

Church should be a place where our children grow in the Lord and learn. However, scripture makes clear that this instruction and cultural norm is primarily the parents job.

“Is the type of music that we use in church something that we will allow to divide the body of Christ?”

Recently, when I learned that our church was not only singing secular music on Sunday mornings but that we may be doing so more often, I felt the uncertainty and anger that many of the parents during the 60’s to 80’s might have experienced.

It wasn’t because of my children, but because I was concerned for those entering the church and how they might miss out on the holiness of our God.

Then I reconsidered the culture of our particular church.

Jesus is so central to the home that Sunday morning can be for the sole purpose of reaching those far from Christ.

The church is finally moving outside the four walls, into our homes, and we are able to use the “temple” as a place to engage in questionable activities like “eating and drinking with sinners” and playing the “wrong” music.

This is something to celebrate!

Consider what Jesus did. He was able to engage in these things without sacrificing His holiness. In truth, it actually highlighted his grace! The saving grace we are trying so diligently to share with the world.

Why not use the buildings as a new place for outreach and allow the Lord to turn our hearts and homes into the places of worship they were meant to be?

Or would you rather return to the days children attended church because “there’s nothing else to do”?

We could sing only songs that pull primarily on the hearts of those already familiar with them, and keep living in disordered, broken homes with broken hearts and raising children to leave Jesus at the alter instead of carrying the His Spirit within. How about we go back to these “good old days?”

I think we can all agree this is not the answer.

The difficulty is agreeing on how much discomfort we are willing to endure as the American church continues to change. Surely we can look to Jesus for guidance here.

Lastly, I’ll tell you how I got to this understanding. Remember when I said I was upset about the music?

Well, upset is an understatement!

I was LIVID! I had scripture to support my opinion. I had “righteous” indignation. I had people who were willing to listen and agree (even if only in part).

It wasn’t until I considered a powerful move of God I had seen that I received revelation in this area.

Imagine the possibilities if we let culture “infect” us the way Jesus let our sin infect Him.

You see, some years ago I was with a Muslim friend of mine and her alarm sounded to pray. I decided to pray with her.

She showed me how to wash and the different cycles of standing and kneeling. I did them all alongside her, only I was praying the Lord’s Prayer in my heart.

It wasn’t that I was quiet for being ashamed of Jesus. She knew my belief. So much so that after the first cycle of prayer she was shouting at me to “leave Jesus!” and saying I was “going to hell!”. (that second part sound familiar?)

After it all, she turned to me sobbing and said “you have a heart like God wants. Maybe when you make it to heaven you can ask God to bring me?”

I had said nothing.

You see, this is what God can do when we allow Him to move us outside our comfort zones and leverage truly being “in the world.” Now imagine this kind of thing happening in a church where someone is surrounded by believers!

Imagine the possibilities if we let culture “infect” us the way Jesus let our sin infect Him.

I hope my failings and revelations bring clarity for you who have ever struggled over this.

I hope you consider that our church will continue to change and go inward so that we can pour more out.

I hope you are enlightened and encouraged by this display of valiant grace from our uncontainable God.

Your sister,



2 thoughts

  1. As I have come to expect, you have a way of diving to the center of a topic and deconstructing it. This is a topic that I have wrestled with at great length, and only received similar revelation, as you have very eloquently outlined here, from one of our church leaders on this topic. I am so grateful that you have taken the time to point out what lengths we, as the church, should be willing (and able) to go to, in order to bring the lost into the fold!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen! Thanks for sharing Jason! It’s always great to hear that God is confirming the same things to His children. It’s not without struggle for hardheaded people like me, so I have a gratitude and (empathy? Haha) for our leaders at Lifepoint as they patiently encourage us.


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