Scripture declares—and we believe—that music in the context of worship should be biblical, thoughtful and excellent. These qualities should pervade all areas of musical activity in the church with the ultimate goal of bringing glory to God. Worship music properly involves God’s children in the activities of praise, prayer and proclamation, with God Himself as the subject and object.
We believe that music employed in gathered worship (including wedding ceremonies, memorial services, and other types of worship services) should be:
- Biblical—All songs sung should be doctrinally sound, and not in conflict with the clear teachings of Scripture. (To this end, the elders occasionally alter lyrics in songs in order to bring them more into line with Scripture.)
- God-centred—Texts and hearts should be focused on God, who is the subject and object of worship.
- Excellent—God deserves the best we have, and so our music—melody, harmony, rhythm, form, lyrics—should be of the highest quality possible. At the same time, we recognise that excellence is no substitute for offering God worship in a right spirit.
- Spiritual—Without the work of the Holy Spirit, our efforts are meaningless. Music is not intrinsically worship, and so, without due caution, we can be guilty of worshipping the music rather than the Saviour to whom the music is offered in worship.
- Prepared—Because of our desire for excellence, the music employed in worship is carefully selected, adequately rehearsed, and presented by musicians who have prepared themselves before God for worship.
Music is an integral part of corporate worship. The congregation ought to be fully involved in singing, listening and even learning from the music employed in worship.
Special music items are prepared by the church choirs to be sung as an act of worship during the corporate gathering of the church, and occasionally at other special events. Special music items at BBC are:
- To the glory of God—Special music is intended to assist the congregation in worship. While it is performed by skilled musicians, and is frequently uplifting to the soul, special music in the church is not a “performance.” It is music offered in worship to the glory of God. (One natural outworking of this principle is the relative rarity of applause following special music items in corporate worship settings.)
- Excellent—As with congregational worship music, special music items are selected and presented by those who are gifted by God in the area of music. (See “Worship Music” above for more detail on this issue.)
- Edifying—Special music and special musical events prepared by the music ministers of the church are designed to bolster the spirit and the mind. This is accomplished through thoughtfully-selected and well-prepared items and programs.
- Evangelistic opportunities—Occasionally—for example, as a “Christmas special”—the church choirs will prepare a musical concert, which used as an opportunity to both edify the saints and to potentially evangelise unbelievers. We believe that faith comes by hearing God’s Word, and while music is not in itself God’s ordained means of gospel proclamation, we use such concerts and performances as a platform for attendant gospel proclamation. All such concerts are open to everyone without charge.
Music is a powerful medium that teaches and communicates things in deep ways. It can easily overpower other verbal or written teaching. Music is never neutral—it will always affect listeners either positively or negatively.
It follows, therefore, that musical choice is essentially ethical in nature. Unbiblical texts and musical styles associated with worldliness must be avoided in the context of worship. (This principle holds true in the believer’s personal choice of music too!)
It is our prayer that, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, those entrusted with the music ministry of the church will be able to determine and minister that which is honouring to God and edifying to His church.