I saw a conversation on Facebook the other day, and I may be way off, or opening a can of worms here, but I want to talk about the use of "secular" songs in worship services. This has been a popular trend lately, and there are usually two schools of thought on this subject. Typically, people are strongly for it, or adamantly against it. I seem to fall somewhere in the middle.
As far as using "secular" songs, I think there are some amazing songs that are not labeled "worship songs" that could be used in our worship services today. For example, U2 has many songs that could be used as worship songs. One of their more recent is 'Magnificent', an amazing song that talks about the majesty of our Creator and how every thing we do should bring God glory. There is also a Coldplay song called 'A Message', which tell us that Love should be the central message in all we do. Sounds a lot like Jesus' message in Mark 12.
On the other hand is the trend of singing the "popular" worship songs. Do we sing them because they are drawing us closer to our Savior and opening us up to see our relationship with Him in a new way, or are we singing them because they are on the radio or they are the newest one written by our favorite artist? (See my previous post "Song Fatigue" for more of my thoughts on this subject.)
The use of "secular" songs in a worship service, in my opinion can be used to enhance the service. They can frame the theme or message in a way that helps the congregation see things in a different way. Or possibly, the next time the congregation hears that song they will think about the scripture or message that was related to it. However, I have seen songs used in a service "just because". I struggle with that. If we aren't doing something with purpose, why are we doing it? Just to be cool, hip and trendy, or say that we do "secular" music at our church?
I also struggle with the re-writing of "secular" songs in order to make them "spiritual" or turn them into "worship" songs. I admit, I have taken pieces of "secular" songs and weaved them together with hymns or "worship" songs and made kind of a 'mash-up' of songs. But what I am talking about is taking a song and changing the words to be more 'Christian' while keeping the same melody and music. I know I am not the greatest songwriter in the world and don't have much room to criticize other songwriters, but why not come up with your own tune and melody for the words you have created? Sure use these "secular" songs in your worship services, but use them the way they came, don't change them to fit what you think or want it to say. If the original songwriter wanted to say something different, they would have!
At the end of the day don't let little issues like what songs to use take your focus off of our goal as Worship Leaders. Our goal is to create an experience for the congregation to worship our Savior. Whether that means just one guy and a guitar playing praise songs from the 70's, a full choir and orchestra doing the latest Brooklyn Tabernacle songs or a smokin' praise band doing the all "secular" tunes, everything we do should be pointing to bringing glory to God.
Those are a few of my thoughts. I would love to hear yours! Feel free to pass this on to your worship leader and pastor friends! Be sure to leave a comment here or on our Facebook page! Thanks for hanging out with me today!