Why would we allow “Secular” music in our worship services?

Some of you may have noticed over the past few weeks at Ridgeview, that our song selection is widening, and not everything in our worship services can be found on Christian Radio. There are people out there, (of course none that attend Ridgeview, we ran them off when we popped popcorn for the God on Film series) who don’t think that this is a good idea at all.

I went to a worship conference recently that opened the afternoon with a song by Chris Doughtry, and another by Matchbox 20. To tell you the truth, I was quite surprised. Why would anyone do this? Then again, why not? Chad Hall, in an article for CoolChurches (where I obtained much of my information for this article) says: “It is good, right, and effective to use secular music as a means of worshipping a sacred God.”

Now I know that there are arguments against this thought and practice. The main argument I've encountered is that a clear distinction exists between the sacred and the secular. Proponents of this position believe that rather than allow the secular and sacred realms to merge, the church ought to draw the boundaries very plainly. The argument is that only by demarcating the difference can people know the difference and thus be made more Jesus-like. This is not a bad concept. It rightly understands that there is a difference between God and the fallen world, and that the goal of the church is to make fallen people more like the former.

Unfortunately, the philosophy behind this attitude has led the church to disengage from the world to a faulty extreme. Take, for example the “dress code” for church: people put on their “church clothes” and go to church, where they are supposed to encounter God; once they get home, they take off these clothes and put on their “regular clothes.”

Music works the same way. People who love hymns Sunday mornings are not likely to have choir anthems in their CD players Sunday afternoons. People who love Chris Tomlin may be pumping Van Halen through the speakers Friday night before the game. The reason why secular music is needed in worship is that it bridges two worlds that should not be separated in the first place. By letting the secular seep into the sanctuary, we also allow the sacred to spill out of the church - out of the 10:30 hour, beyond the walls, into relationships and situations other than those we experience at church.

Can the Holy Spirit of God not redeem a secular song and use it for God's own purpose? I love the idea that He can! Ultimately, if worship time on Sunday can give a secular song a new “meaning” with spiritual implications, we have succeeded. From that moment on, every time Rascal Flatt’s “Life is a Highway” is played, our minds flash to the sermon “What Drives My Life.” Love songs about some girl/guy are transformed to adoration anthems to a loving God. That – is what worship is all about.


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