I came across Colossians 3:16 and a thought on my mind for a long time gained stronger conviction. I have been thinking for some time that church music selection needs some guidance. As a former music minister and present senior pastor, I have dealt firsthand with music selection. It’s not easy, but it’s important – and especially to the Lord. Colossians 3:16 reads, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thanksgiving in your hearts to God” (ESV). The question is not hymns or choruses but content that produces spiritual benefit. So, here is my top 3 reasons for careful church music selection:
#1. Music selection is a means of teaching. The context of Colossians 3:16 is “teaching and admonishing.” One of the ways we teach and challenge each other to grow spiritually is through speaking and (apparently) singing about the truth of Christ Jesus. Our music selection should include songs that matter for the spiritual growth of our people. This means that the songs we sing should enable the congregation to know God better.
#2. Music selection is a means of giving thanks. The music style debate was foolish but the music content debate should rage with greater fervency. We need songs that sing about the goodness of God in creation, in salvation, in judgment, and in perseverance. Songs of thanksgiving focus on the person of God and His great actions. Many ancient hymns concerned themselves with thanksgiving as it connects with God’s creative work. We need an expanded repertoire of worship songs focused on thanksgiving. After all, the heart attitude we must carry through every trial is that God is good!
#3. Music selection is about the rich indwelling of Christ. People memorize music quickly compared with other means of memory. We should serve a steady diet of songs people can memorize and sing, whistle, hum, and meditate upon throughout the occasions of life. If we concerned ourselves with teaching worthy songs as discipleship, we would repeat the songs we sing in church more often. People would know the music and, as a result, could meditate on Christ via the song. Music would then gain its real purpose: to be a Christ glorifying, Christ indwelling medium for Christian instruction and growth.