There Is No Such Thing As Bad Music?

“What if you’re church band was playing Hillsong style songs with a drummer bent on playing the polka?”

I had coffee with my pastor this morning and part of our conversation turned to expressions and styles of music. He told me a story of being in Nepal on a mission trip and seeing the worship and a Nepalese church. It was foreign to him in a very literal sense. It was not “his thing”. But he saw of Jesus was glorified in the hearts and songs of these brothers and sisters. Before he would have said that the worship music was bad, but now he wouldn’t dream of it. What changed? God redefined “bad” music for him. How do we define it?

WE NEED TO REDEFINE WHAT “BAD” MUSIC IS.

I’m not a big fan of Chris Tomlin’s music. He’s written some good songs, but over all his music, his style,production, and his voice don’t do it for me. But when I hear one of his songs I recognize that the band is tight, the songs are well crafted, well produced (for the style). In other words, it’s not bad.

Neither is the song “All Consuming Fire” by War of Ages. The band is tight, masters of their musician, the words are biblical, and it’s played with passion and well produced (for the style). In other words, it’s not bad. It’s also heavy metal with a lot of screaming that a lot of folks in my church would think is horrible.

The point is that if we haven’t already we need to get past the idea that a style or expression of music is “bad”. It may not be our thing, but it’s not wrong just because we don’t like it.

THEN WHAT IS BAD?

Let’s say a church band was doing a song of the new Chris Tomlin record, but the bass player wants to do funk slap bass or the keyboardist has an old church pipe organ going and is playing like it’s the hymn sing at grandma’s church. That’s bad.

Church bands are often like a secular cover band. I know guys who love 80’s metal but play in 80’s or 70’s pop/rock cover bands. What if they started doing Metallica style riffs over Sweet Home Alabama? The band probably wouldn’t get booked again. What if you’re church band was playing Hillsong style songs with a drummer bent on playing the polka? Seems funny but it happens in churches all the time, the band has an identity crisis.

Bad Music isn’t when a band plays a style you don’t like. Bad music is when the musicians in the church lack unity and a clear purpose in playing. Bad music is when musicians in the church won’t humble ourselves and our likes to serve the song, and there by serve the church.

WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?

Are you in the band? Then listen to your leader, listen to what others in the band are doing, and then play (or don’t play) accordingly. If you’re worship leader asks for a certain sound or vibe, don’t just go back to doing whatever you want to do.

Are you the worship leader? Be clear. Have a vision, and don’t be afraid to tell someone no.

It’s not a type of music that’s bad, but how we approach it, and with what attitude.

Disagree? That’s fair. Leave a comment and we’ll talk about it.

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3 thoughts on “There Is No Such Thing As Bad Music?

  1. I agree with this! Something I’ve developed that’s helped me is thinking in positives (as opposed to negatives). Instead of thinking “This sucks” (negative) I instead say “I enjoy this only about 15%.” (Whereas I may say I enjoy Radiohead 100%.) A style may not strike my fancy, but I should not going completely destroy it and insult those who like it. The point is that there are all types of music, and music is divisive and personal. It’s only bad when attitudes are nasty, people aren’t on the same page, the sound isn’t unified… We glorify Jesus with our attitudes and our oneness and our excellence. Styles, though… That is something that varies widely throughout the kingdom of God.

  2. I FEEL this post, for sure. For the most part, our church bands gets along well musically and some sometimes even rise above our own average abilities to make some excellent music by not having different vibes clashing against one another. Although…. there was that drummer we had for a while that seemed to inject a jazz fusion latin flavor into fairly straightforward Chris Tomlin and Hillsong songs. Argg!

    We are a product of our influences sometimes, for better or worse.

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