Diversity and Music Within Pentecostalism
When I was a teenager, all I wanted to listen to was Kirk Franklin and gospel music. I wanted every church service to have loud music and people jumping and running the aisles. I thought revival happened when the preacher was shouting, the music was unbearably loud, and I was standing to my feet every other minute to shout amen. I have matured a lot since teenage-hood, and find myself wanting more diversity in musical worship and the opportunity for silence in a worship service.
Revival is not something which is based on the tempo of music or the outward expression of emotion and praise. Revival is a refreshing which happens deep within the soul, mind, heart, and spirit. Revival is when our being is challenged to grow more into the image of God. I have often received this type of revival is the most quiet settings of silence. This type of revival can happen in a church service or even in your home.
Music is an outlet and inlet. Music often becomes a conduit for expressions. Pentecostals are known for their exuberant worship services, and often humorous expression of emotions. In a Pentecostal service you will see people jumping, shouting, running, clapping their hands, slain in the spirit, kneeling at altars, laying hands on one another in prayer, crying, laughing, and maybe even standing in silence. There are many forms and expressions which can be seen in a Pentecostal service. These emotional expressions are good, but they must be based on more than the tempo or beat of the music. Music manipulation can be spiritual abuse. Emotional expression must be grounded on the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Emotional expression must come from the supernatural working of the spirit. Many times I have seen people cry in the altar, but never have a life change. I have seen people “repent” for their sins, but never turn from them. Repentance is a turning away from sin, and surrender to God.
I’ve seen many different styles of music in the church. I’ve experienced contemporary, hymns, gospel, and mixes of all of them. I’ve liked one style over the other, and sometimes I have even forgotten about the words and got caught up in the instrumentals. The lyrics of the song are important. Lyrics should express correct doctrine and teaching from the Bible. Often, the songs we sing in church do not tell the gospel story. There is a sort of “love story” in the songs, but sometimes it isn’t the love story of the Bible, but rather from secular and worldly motivations and passions sneaking into our music and song. Styles of music will always change in a church, but we need to consider different age groups. When we stop singing hymns, we cut an older generation off from their history. When we only sing contemporary songs which have no theological depth, we don’t teach the right doctrine. If we are going to use music as a method, let’s use it the right way.
In the pulpit, I sometimes here song leaders tell the people to worship. I’ve even done this myself in the past. I hear an almost disgust if people aren’t jumping, crying, and shouting. Emotional expression is different for each person, and varies from one culture to the next. To impose your emotional expression on someone else is immature, and unrealistic. What are your expectations for the music in a service? Do you want people to hear the gospel message through the songs? Do you want people to receive God’s grace? Or, do all you care about is how high someone jumps, how fast they run, or whether or not they are clapping their hands. Please be aware of different needs within the congregation. Some people may have health issues which prohibit them from constantly standing up and sitting down. Some people may not have the strength to run around the aisles. This doesn’t mean they are lesser Christians, or not worshiping. Worship is more than standing and sitting. Worship is the way we interact with God on a daily basis, and how we live to bring glory and praise to our heavenly savior. Lead as an example in worship, rather than tell them what to do. The scripture gives commands, not us.
A couple of years back people starting singing in English and Spanish in their services. It was like the cool thing to do to add a line of Spanish. If songs are sung in a different language in a church, it should be because there are people in the congregation who speak another language and need to sing in their native language. I certainly think we should incorporate more cultural diversity in our song services. Heaven is going to be filled with all different kinds of praise and worship! Let’s practice for that great and mighty day!
What are your thoughts? How can we use music to help bring people closer to God? How can we use music to help share the gospel message? Post in the comments below.
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