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Music in the Church – Are You Happy?

TRC Music Editor, Karmann Powell, leading worship at You Matter Ministries, serving the homeless in streets of Phoenix.

TRC Music Editor, Karmann Powell, leading worship at You Matter Ministries, serving the homeless in streets of Phoenix.

A disturbing trend in worship music has become more noticable in recent years. Christian radio stations are dictating the music in the church. Worship leaders are not going any further then what’s popular on the radio to find songs for Sunday’s service. Worship music in the church is becoming more like a juke box than a time of praise and reflection. In fact, some churches are reaching past the Christian stations and bringing songs into the church from the pop stations.

I read an article by a local pastor inviting people to church to hear the worship team play the Pharrell Williams’ song, Happy.  He had a list of reasons justifying the worship teams selection–none of which were biblical.  Other churches must be doing the same thing. A couple of weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a church copyright organization encouraging churches to license Happy so they, too, could play it in their church.

Is it me or is that a blurring of the lines between the Godly and the secular? There are songs I sing, some of which I’ve written, where God is present. What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong, immediately comes to mind. I hear and feel God’s presence every time I sing it. However, it says nothing about God or contain any scriptural truths. It teaches me nothing about the bible, about Jesus, about grace and mercy. It just makes me feel good.

As a worship leader and music director of North Valley Christian Church, it is my responsibility to vet the songs we sing for biblical correctness and appropriateness. I ask myself, “what does this song teach? Is it based on biblical truths or scripture?  Does it support the pastor’s sermon and edify the congregation?”

A song like Happy, while it might be fun and make someone feel good, has none of the benchmarks of a song I would include in a Christian worship service.

It seems many churches have lost sight of the importance of corporate worship. We are called to be holy, to be set aside. Does bringing secular music into the sanctuary draw us closer to God? Sure, it might bring some people through the doors, but it does nothing to further their walk with Christ.  It makes it harder to tell the difference between the church and the world.

I personally think the church should be taking its music into the world.  This includes contemporary Christian, as well as country, folk, blues and  bluegrass gospel, spirituals, and traditional hymns.  God created music for His people to worship Him. The world has twisted it around and uses music to its own ends and purposes, often to worship the music makers. Isn’t it time for the Christians to take back the music? Think about it.


Singer/songwriter Karmann Powell is a "genetic" musician from a musical family. She is the lead singer of the award-winning Karmann and Kompany band; worship leader/music director for North Valley Christian Church in Phoenix, Arizona; and former Music Editor for The Relevant Christian magazine, currently a columnist. She is a wife, a mother, and a former real estate agent. In her spare time, she is a substitute teacher. www.karmannpowell.com or www.kandkband.com