Why Good Church Music Is So Hard to Find

Why Good Church Music Is So Hard to Find August 1, 2012

Worship Week continues on Bill in the Blank at Patheos with a post by Keith Guilford. You can connect with him on Twitter or leave a comment below.

This guest post is in response to Why I’ve Stopped Singing in Your Church:

The current American Evangelical culture seems to have become quite different than the secular American culture, but really the similarities are striking. While one culture might read books by famous pastors or TV evangelists and the other about 50 shades of light black, both are experiencing the same troubling problem of finding quality.

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Where has all the quality gone?

Quality is hard to find these days. Television is full of overnight celebrities that can’t act, sing, or dance. They are just famous for being famous. Modern Christian music is mostly repeated power chords copied from bad secular musicians and the lyrics usually repeat capitalized pronouns to the point of near torture. Television and music aren’t the only affected aspects of our culture. The Christian book stores are full of “fill in the blank” bible studies and the modern movies are mostly repeats of successful movies of the past or comic book remakes.

The upturn in consumption of media has produced more media, but not better media. More people are consuming more media in different ways than ever before. Some listen to church sermons on their mp3 players while working out, while others read blogs and books on their tablets during their train ride to work. Take a short walk down any urban street and notice how consumed people are with various forms of media.

Cashing in but missing out

This revelation has grabbed the attention of the companies that produce and market. To cash in on this new trend, they have taken to producing more, but society lacks in numbers of talented individuals to produce these new movies, songs, and books.

The marketing of this media is a sort of hypnosis of the general population. A few famous people are payed to talk about or mention how much they like something, and suddenly we find a relatively unknown pastor at the top of the New York Times bestseller for a writing a book that does nothing but badly rehash 50 year old ideas from C.S. Lewis.

The marketing executives are preying on our laziness. They feed us quantity and disguise it as quality. Those of us that eat what we are given rather than finding quality of our own drink up the garbage as if it were fine wine. A lazy existence is one that reads the popular books and watches the popular movies because we think everybody else is doing it. Pretty soon we’ve eaten so much garbage that we can’t taste quality because our bellies are full of mediocre food.

Is church worship following the crowd?

There are numerous studies on social pressure, and this probably isn’t the place to dive into how we tend to copy what we see around us, but take into account the typical evangelical worship service. Think about how the most moved people all react to being moved by raising a hand. If this action were a real personal response to a feeling of movement, the actions would all differ as our experiences are all different.

Instead, we see a lazy action. We see a copy of someone else.

Many have recently complained about the music in churches being too simple or not having much quality, but the real problem isn’t the music. The problem is with the culture that produces the music. The continued promotion of mediocre musicians and the copying of the music has saturated the entire industry with cheesy lyrics and repeated samples from nursery rhymes. This is true in both secular and christian music, but probably more true in Christian music as it borrows heavily from itself as well as the secular world.

As Christians we must remain diligent about surrounding ourselves with quality in all ways. We must find a church that not only preaches quality, but puts it back into the community so it grows. The church must, once again, become the breeding ground for quality.

We must stop the lazy culture of copying before we can have better music, more fulfilling sermons, and ultimately a better relationship with God.

Do you agree with Keith that the degrading of quality in culture is to blame for mediocre church music? Do you even agree that church worship music has been degraded at all? Leave a comment here to share your opinion.


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