This is the second part of a review that appeared in our June/July issue, chosen to chime with the needs of home worship. To read the first part click here
‘Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement: Confessions of a Former Worship Leader’
by Dan Lucarini
Last issue our review dealt with worship leader Dan Lucarini’s reasons for abandoning the relentlessly loud, concert style worship fashionable in some of today’s churches and why baby boomers, who came into church leadership in the mid-1980s, are largely responsible for importing secular music styles.
Lucarini also shows why the popular arguments for contemporary Christian music (CCM) are, in his words, “wrong or misleading”. Usually these arguments are, variously:
“It’s all a matter of personal preference and taste / We’re just trying to reach the unchurched / Music is amoral / God made music – isn’t all music inherently good?/ Show me where the Bible says rock music is evil / Doesn’t the Bible teach it’s OK to use different music styles to reach people?/ A blended service will please everyone / It’s the heart of worship that matters, not the music / Didn’t Luther and the Wesleys use contemporary music in church? / CCM is easier to sing than hymns / Isn’t God using CCM to save and disciple teens?”
There isn’t room here to give Lucarini’s answers, but his reasons are convincing; he deeply regrets changing several churches’ music to CCM.
He states repeatedly and firmly that hard rock music (and its musical cousins such as soft rock, pop/rock, country rock, and easy jazz) is “unavoidably associated” with immorality and closely imitates the world’s music system: “Changing the lyrics and substituting Christian musicians cannot remove that stigma.”
A people-centred entertainment that makes the participants feel good
Contemporaries, Lucarini points out, have changed the meaning of the word “worship.” Instead of it meaning a God-centred focus, in which believers bow in reverence and humility before him, worship has come to mean a people-centred entertainment that makes the participants feel good.
He also suggests that much of CCM is actually more difficult to sing than hymns.
And what about reaching teens? Lucarini points to the idolising of Christian music performers, the “screams of pleasure when they walk on stage”, and says he has not seen good ‘fruit’ from using CCM with teens: “Even with the ‘good Christian alternatives’ we gave them, instead they craved more worldly music and their love for the world seemed to increase rather than decrease.”
Lucarini also claims he was staying away from helping with music in his new church, despite his expertise, for fear of corrupting their worship with his instinctive pop/rock sound.
The author lists four helpful biblical principles for evaluating worship music: 1. Avoid any preference or style that can be associated with evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). 2. Recognise that freedom in Christ has limits (1 Corinthians 10:23). 3. Don’t let your preferences put obstacles in another believer’s path (1 Corinthians 8:9,12). 4. Be a builder, not part of a demolition crew (Romans 14:9).
The book is also positive; Lucarini thoroughly explains what kind of music he now uses to honour the King of kings.
Simple home worship
If you do have a copy of ‘Mission Praise’ turn to no 75, ‘Christ is surely coming’ by Christopher Idle, based on Revelation 22. It is sung to the tune of ‘Land of hope and glory’ – simple!