I am a pastor in nepal , how do i teach my church and youths . I want a fresh prespective!
Should a christian listen to songs that are not christian in nature ? Or more importantly go sing on pubs to win others ? This has been bothering me!
Hi Prashant, thanks for being willing to share this tough question.
I believe that your question is split into 2 parts:
1) The Type of Music
2) The Location of Evangelism
1) The Type of Music
Andrew Fletcher (a Scottish political activist in 18th century) shared, “Let me write the songs of a nation, I don’t care who writes its laws.” He believed that songs have a way to steer the people in a certain direction that laws are not able to.
Interestingly, Ravi Zacharias was asked this question also by a youth pastor, and he gave some very interesting points:
- music is a very powerful instrument
- music will keep changing because taste will fluctuate from generation to generation
- see who the audience is, and see if the kind of music is something that will engage
Therefore, it is good to note that relevance is key. I do agree with this as well, and we can’t just take bible narratives literally.
And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:30)
Can you imagine if we take it literally today? We will have a lot of amputees around, haha.
Ravi Zacharias also added that:
- music is the language of the soul
- music brings the emotions into reality
- music is very seductive, and can make the means and ends in itself
- music brings with it an artistic mind, and it may sometime floats with emotions and aesthetics and not be anchored to reason and argument
- don’t let it become a God, let it become a means to point people to God
With music there can be errors in form, and corruptions of substance. In forms, everyone may differ, some may even be erroneous, but be wary of corrupting the substance where the intent is to point people to Jesus.
Of course, it has to be reasonable as well. It doesn’t mean we ban all love songs because they don’t have the word “Jesus” in it. I had this funny conversation with friends some time back where they were asking:
Friend: Did you know that any christian song can become a love song and vice versa?
Me: Really? How?
Friend: For a christian song to become a love song, change the word Jesus -> love. For a love song to become a christian song change the word love -> Jesus.
In the end, we must be practical, and understand that songs are after all an expression of emotions and creativity. Just because a song isn’t a christian song doesn’t necessarily equate it to being bad. An interesting thing to note is that love songs or even the idea of marriage actually stems from the bible:
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16)
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31-32)
Coincidentally, I am from Singapore, and our government just banned a heavy metal band’s concert because it has anti-religious (and even anti-Christian) songs. They were apparently approved at the start, on certain conditions (e.g. choice of songs), but it later become a social media flood that the authorities did not want to deal with. So it was banned just hours before the concert. A key point to note is that in Singapore, any criticism on any religion is prohibited, for fear that it will disturb the religious and racial harmony that we have (we have the chinese, malays and indians making up the majority of the population) and also have (buddhism, taoism, hinduism, islam, christianity, just to name a few of the larger religious groups). So the whole incident begets the question of where should the line be drawn: by the actions or by the representative individual (or group / band in this case).
2) The Location of Evangelism
I am sure many are divided in this area.
A) On one hand those who are for, will claim that we ought to evangelise:
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. (Mark 16:15)
And also to be relevant:
When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. (Mark 2:17)
He befriended the tax collectors and prostitutes who were considered the lowest in the social order in that day.
B) On the other hand, some will say that we ought to take social expectations into consideration:
Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall. (1 Corinthians 8:13)
And so if listening to “wrong” music causes someone to stumble in their belief, I abstain from it.
I think the better answer to this question of whether the location of evangelism matters, would be to consider the culture and context of where you are from.
In my culture, where it is very traditionally asian, drinking and pubs are commonly associated with being bad. If that is the case, constantly going to such places, will only lower your credibility when you are trying to reach out to others about the gospel. To give a more extreme example, your president / prime minister can actually frequent the red light district in hopes of trying to turn the place around and get the prostitutes to leave the industry. However, if you frequently see him / her there, would the people around feel that he is trying to do something about the industry or will they think that it is more likely to be some sort of scandal?
Though God sees the heart, but also remember that Man sees the action (or outward appearance), and you are ministering to Man, and not God. The appearance will to a certain degree matter.
Whether to reach out and evangelise in pubs or not, I would advise to just exercise wisdom:
Everything is permissible for me"–but not everything is beneficial. (1 Corinthians 6:12)
Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean it will definitely be beneficial. Furthermore, just because you want to reach out to people at pubs, and you can (based on society’s views), doesn’t mean that they will want to listen as well.
Hope this helps put into perspective your question about music.
Thank you so much it really helped me ! It really did !
I really appricate your view on this dear kenny .
As Nepal is also an asian country thanks for the last part of your writing it really helped me to put things on context …
@Prashant_Pradhan May the Lord Jesus grant you wisdom as you guide your youth! I’ve included some threads below that you might find helpful to read through - lots of good perspectives and thoughts. What I would say briefly is:
- a person should not violate their own conscience (Romans 14 / I Cor 8) - if they do not feel it is okay to go into a pub or to play certain music, they should not do so - but they also should not prohibit those who do have that freedom from doing so / condemn them
- a person should not place themselves in the way of temptation - if a person knows a pub will tempt to them to some sin or that certain music will lead their heart astray, they should forego it
- I don’t see anything inherently wrong with hanging out in pubs and sharing Jesus with people - so long as there is nothing unseemly occurring in the pub at the time
Thank you so much for your reply.
I really appreciate your answer…!!
For me personally , I think is very difficult to draw a line .
I see some of the youths passionately singing worship songs in church and again singing songs with lyrics that are vulgar with same passion.(pubs usually )
And that really bothers me !
I don’t know what do !?
@Prashant_Pradhan Ah, in that case I believe the Bible is quite clear - as Christians we should guard our lips and only think on those things that are good, true and upright.
Since you are the youth leader, could you organize outings for the kids where they could have fun out on the town without singing vulgar songs / drinking? Maybe try to provide them a fun alternative to going out with those who are influencing them in a negative way.
One thing we need to teach youth is to ‘choose friends wisely’ - we should choose friends who draw us closer to Christ instead of pushing us away from Him. It does not mean that we ditch our other friends - it just means we don’t go places with them that will cause us to dishonor our Lord and Savior.
Christ grant you wisdom with your youth to know their hearts and teach them wisely
Ephesians 4:29 - Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
John Stott has a great sermon on ‘the cost of discipleship’ - I think that is something youth need to understand as they walk with Jesus in the world.
@Prashant_Pradhan. Perhaps it may help your young people to consider before singing any song anywhere that they do so before an ever-present audience. This audience knows not just the appropriate song and venue but is intimately aware of the heart. It is not necessary for any of us to adjust His message as if we could sneak its life-changing necessity upon anyone.
I would only sing when and where the great Audience of one desires me too. Or wanted me too. Ultimately all that we do, think or sing we do before GOD. In such a partnership, we must always be guilty of considering how our behavior translates in the partnership. We may give our bodies to be burned but without love which is a reflection of GOD’s heart, its busy work. It doesn’t profit us or the people around us.
But you should be comforted to know, that even in great human error GOD calls us. GOD does not give up on any of us. If you encourage your young to consider GOD in all they do; as a leader, remember to do so as well. They will be watching and observing where your peace emanates from despite contradictory behavior from them. What should you do? Based upon your statements I think you are already doing what is needed. I will be praying with you.
I am really thankful for such a thoughtful reply to my question.
You have replied me very clearly and precisely.
Thank you so much once again
Thank you so much for your reply. Thank you for the perspective you provided it was really helpful.
Really liked the sermon by John Stott!