I Hate Church Music

It was profoundly liberating to me when I finally realized that it I could hate church music and still be a Christian.

I didn’t necessarily have an epiphany about it; it was a realization that I sort of grew into. But I definitely had a growth spurt on one occasion in a worship service. After yet another dry, repetitive, plinkity-plink, white bread praise song, the pastor jumped up on stage and said something to the effect of, “If that song didn’t make you want to jump up shout ‘Glory!’ then you better check and make sure you’re really a Christian!”

And I thought, “Wait a minute. This is not God’s official music. It’s just an attempt to be relevant by a songwriter who grew up watching VH1.” Then I checked, and yes, I was still really a Christian.

So I can freely say that, no, I do not like church music. As liberating as it feels to say this out loud (and I do every time I get the chance), I still often feel like a lone voice not singing in the wilderness, because a lot of Christians think that if you are a Christian you have to like praise and worship music. That’s why it feels so good to see an article like this:

Why I’ve Stopped Singing in Your Church 

 

As best I can sort through my own muddled and messy thoughts, I think there are three things that really bother me about the worship music in many Evangelical Christian churches today: 

1. They’re really, really simplistic. There, I tried to keep the words small. You certainly put a lot of work into doing that for me each Sunday. It’s not just that most of the lyrics are simple — as in easy to understand. It’s that so many of the songs remind me of the ditties we sang at camp — when I was ten…. 

2. They’re all pulled from the latest Top 40 Worship channel. Or so it seems. Most songs I hear in evangelical churches of late have been written in the last decade, if that…. 

3. They repeat. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. And rep — all right. See what I mean? Really, really annoying. Really. The first time we sang the simplistic ditty, I could tolerate it though I thought the infinite God of all creation deserved better. By the fifth time, I was hearing echoes of Jesus warning about vain repetitions. But once you went softer and slowed it down on the seventh time, it really began to resonate with my soul. 

Not. 

Please. Stop. Now.

Yes, yes, and yes. I grew up singing out of the Baptist Hymnal, and thinking how plonking and stuffy all the songs were. Then I started going to a cool church with a contemporary worship service. [Note to non-evangelical readers: “contemporary worship” means something very specific. It’s one of those shorthand Christian slang terms we use, like “love on,” which means to show kindness and compassion to someone, or “fellowship,” which means, “to eat.”] After a few months of being exposed to the much hipper praise and worship music, I realized the Baptist Hymnal wasn’t so bad.

9 thoughts on “I Hate Church Music

  1. I can’t believe you would say something like that. Church music is awesome. That must be the devil talking in you. 🙂 hehe. Just kidding. From, your loving wife.

  2. Apparently (according to his autobiography ‘Surprised by Joy’), C.S. Lewis didn’t enjoy church services because he couldn’t stand hymns.

    I wonder what he’d make of the dross we sing today. I love hymns (maybe because I wasn’t brought up with them) but we hardly ever get to sing any in our church. If we could all settle on chanted metrical psalms then I think opur church services would be much the richer for it.

  3. That’s one of the things that I thought when I was working through my own feelings about church music: “If C.S. Lewis were here, would he really be enjoying this? And would he be questioning his own salvation if he wasn’t?” I doubt it.

  4. I think Hillsong are good most of the time, especially the upbeat ones.
    But most local churches are very lacklustre and cheesy. My local one recently had us singing a cheesy song telling us to clap our hands, stamp our feet and point in the air if you love Jesus.
    Alright for kids but not for adults. I just stood there with my arms folded while the adults with their cheesy grins were doing the actions.
    It’s probably the most fun they’ve had all week!

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