When should you ask your church to stop singing a song?

When should you ask your church to stop singing a song? Imagine three scenarios:

The song is cheesy

Okay, perhaps “Shout to the Lord” is dated now. Maybe you think it’s cheesy; maybe it is. But here’s the key question: Does everyone in your church think the song is cheesy? If so, retire it. But if there are still people in your church for whom the song is deeply meaningful, this is a great opportunity to exercise Phil. 2:3, “in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”

Besides, there is probably someone in your church who thinks your favorite songs are cheesy.

The song is poorly crafted

This one is trickier. “As the Deer” is quite poorly crafted. It’s linguistically schizophrenic, jumping forwards and backwards through 300 years of the English language, sometimes within the same sentence. But what it says is true, even if it’s poorly crafted. And if others in church love it, perhaps it’s another opportunity to exercise Phil. 2:3.

The song has bad theology

Simple, right? Not quite. Some songs are misunderstood. (This happens more often than one might think.)

Other songs are clumsily worded.

Some songs perfectly reflect the theology of another church’s theological tradition, but maybe not yours. A preterist church wouldn’t sing “I’ll Meet You in the Rapture,” and a rapture church wouldn’t sing the preterist radio hits. (If they have any.) (If they do, I would be intrigued to hear them. But I digress.)

Finally, some songs are outright heresy. If a song denies one of the central truths of Christianity, or even a point on which all Protestants can agree, definitely don’t sing that song. It’s probably wise to also stop singing songs that don’t align with your church’s distinctive doctrines. As far as clumsy wording, that simply comes down to just how clumsy we’re talking about.

Beyond that: If everyone in your church likes all the same songs, chances are everyone is the same age. But almost every church would love to be multi-generational, with saints of 9 and 90 years old. If you are, you’ll have different musical preferences. And that gives us plenty of opportunities to exercise Romans 12:10: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”

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