Forgive me if this thread is redundant. From time to time when I am planning worship sets a "secular" song will come to mind. I'm not a huge fan of re-writing mainstream lyrics to "Christianize" them--rather I recognize that truth can be found in many songs and that any truth is God's truth. Any noble sentiment is a reflection of the character of God, even if it is voiced by a person who does not know God personally. Examples of songs I've used include:
"You're In My Heart" by Rod Stewart--(chorus only) and I usually change the lyric to "you are my Savior, you're my best friend."
"Shine" by Collective Soul--(chorus only)...I usually tagged it on the end of "Mighty to Save"...
"Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen--(chorus only)--I guess everyone has done that one...lol
"Lean on Me" by Bill Withers
A few weeks ago I spontaneously sang a little snippet from "Yellow" by Coldplay--just the "Look at the stars, see how they shine for You--and everything You do."
Lately I've been wanting to put together a multi-media montage about the cross and salvation to be accompanied by "Soldier" by Ingrid Michaelson. "and so it goes, this soldier knows the battle with the heart isn't easily won...but it CAN be won (goes to picture of a person at the cross)" Gives me goosebumps thinking about it...
What are your ideas?
I agree with the idea that many existing realities in the world also align with truth in the Word. The two aren't as mutually exclusive as some like to claim. This is true with music as well. One of my favorite songs is Pink Floyd's "Time"- it's not 'Christian', but it contains truths about life, living, and death. Heck, the whole Dark Side of the Moon is that way. The album covers life, death, wealth, fame, violence, inner being, many topics of the human experience that Christians experience as well. I also agree that one who does not know God can contain Godly characteristics. All men were made in God's image, not just Israel or Christians. So it only makes sense that certain characteristics are endowed to us by our Creator God. The difference is how we use them.
However, to say any truth is God's truth could lead into a whole digression into many Eastern philosophies and New Age relativists worldviews where there are no absolutes and 'truth' is whatever is truth to you and it's ok that it's different than truth to me. I've been there and it's a confusing place to be.
More to the point, I know from my own experience to take a song and take lyrics out of context because one line can be interpreted to fit what you want to do, it comes across as phony. Think of all the people that 'proof text' the Word to fit a shallow agenda- we usually question their sincerity and sometimes sanity. In fact, that's how most cults start.
That could happen here. Songs are generally written to communicate a central point, message. etc. To your point of re-writing songs to 'Christianize' them, taking current lyrics out of context to Christianize them isn't any different, in my view. To take Rod Stewart's song and change one word is kind of like plagiarism, or at the very least putting 'words in their mouth' that aren't part of the original message.
I'm not saying that it's bad to listen to the music or anything like that, but with all the 'Christian' songs we have, why couldn't you find one of those and make the same kind of montage? Or, use secular music that expresses the realities of life and montage that, segue into a Christian song that expresses the hope and strength in Christ?
I don't want to discourage the creativity, I'd just make the point that it may be served with a different medium.
How on earth is saying "any/every truth is God's truth" opening the door to eastern religion, New Age, etc? The whole point is that there IS absolute truth...which means that if something is TRUE it must have originated from the only absolutely true source, which is GOD. I did NOT say "every CLAIM of truth is from God." That seems to be what you think I said. My point is that even an unregenerate person says things that are true sometimes, or teaches PARTIAL truth. If you separate their truth from their non-truth, you will still find that the truth part originates in God.
Trent, I'm torn. I see what you're saying. At the same time, I'm trying to look at this from the congregants' view. What is the true motive/purpose for intentionally using "mainstream" songs (in whole or in part)? How do they bring people to God's heart? Even though every mainstream song has some kernel of truth, does it truly express God's heart for those he loves?
I realize that as Christians we need to remove whatever stumbling blocks so people can come to Christ freely and without guilt. It is also true that we should not use our freedoms to cause others to stumble. Telling someone to "Get over it" is not a valid response to our freedoms in Christ (I not referring to you, just stating that as in general). What does it say to the people sitting in the seats that gave up "mainstream" music because God moved their hearts to seek music that honors HIM alone? I've met many of them, and they still struggle with the whole mainstream/worship music tension. So, I'm wondering how much the church is helping them with this tension.
I apologize for taking the antagonist view of your thread. My hope is to see this from various angles to ensure this is a God-led decision as opposed to a "hey, this is cool. Let's try this. I don't care what people think" kind of mindset (again, speaking generally here). So, please forgive me if you're not getting the response you desired. I wish you many blessings to you and your ministry. May God always be glorified in everything we do.
Melanie Siewert, Christ's Servant
This exact same debate gets recycled at least once a year on TWC...I'm staying away from the debate by answering Trent's original question...
Daughtry's "Home" during a sermon about the prodigal son.
The Band Perry's "If I Die Young" when talking about death and eternity.
Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" when talking about the truth of God contrasted with the culture around us.
Foo Fighter's "My Hero" when talking about living an extraordinary life.
Lee Brice's "Love Like Crazy" when talking about marriage.
Billy Ray Cyrus' "Busy Man", The Beatles "Eight Days a Week", The Rolling Stones "Satisfaction", and Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" when talking about simplifying life.
Pink Floyd's "Money" and the O'Jays "For The Love of Money" when talking about finances.
U2's "Beautiful Day" just because it's a great song.
The Byrd's "Turn Turn Turn" when talking about the seasons of life.
Five for Fighting's "100 Years" when talking about living a life of legacy.
John Mayer's "Daughters" on Mother's Day.
Off the top of my head...
Not to add to the debate, but I hear the argument "but what about the people listening"...we've been using secular songs at church for years (again, with a very intentional and clear purpose) and have not once received anything but positive response (or at least, nothing less that a neutral response from some) from those in the congregation.
Shalom, brother Trent! Personally, I steer clear of bringing mainstream music into my worship setlists for several reasons...the most preactical of which is: there's plenty of inspired, authentic worship songs available to accomodate almost any theme we might feel lead by God to invoke, so why bother inserting a mainstream song? Another inportant reason, in my situation as a worship leader in a recovery ministry, is that many addicts have close ties between mainstream music and their acting-out behaviors with alcohol and other substances. Using mainstream songs in a worship setting could be a source of triggering their old hurts, habits and hang-ups, which is the very last thing we want to do in worship. Thus, I keep the worship set close within the bounds of what I find on CCLI, for example.
This isn't to say that I'm against using mainstream songs in larger brush strokes because I agree that God does use unexpected sources to relay inspiration to humanity (e.g. Baalam and his donkey). I've been in worship settings where Beatles songs and Simon & Garfunkel songs have been used, for example, and it's been entirely appropriate. A little strange at the moment for sure, but appropriate nonetheless. I would just caution each of us to know our congregation and realize whether or not whatever songs we are using are helpful in facilitating their eyes being turned toward Jesus. That's all.
Love re-purposing those songs if they work for the congregation. It seems you are being smart about what parts you use. It really comes down to the congregations acceptance. they shouldn't pause and stop worshiping because they are confused or want to just listen. I'm sure you will be able to discern that.