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Music in the Church

By Whitney Parnell Westside Worship Pastor

I’ve been a student and leader of worship in the church for upwards of 20 years. I’ve wondered many times if music is really necessary in church. Why do we need it? Do people actually like it? Is it just about performance, or is it actually helping people encounter Jesus? Through my questions, I’ve found many reasons why music is important, but here’s the number one thing I always come back to:

Imagine you’re having a bad week. Not horribly bad, just the busy, meeting-filled, stressed- about-money, always-running-late, arguments-with-your-kids kind of week. Think about Sunday morning. You park in a busy church parking lot, walk through a crowded lobby where you paste on a smile and wave at people whose names you forgot again, and you hope people don’t notice the fruit snacks lodged inside your toddler’s shirt (oh, that’s just me?).

You’re ushered into the sanctuary where the pastor is preaching the message. You sit down in total quiet and you know what? It’s really good. It’s got really valuable information and a special message from God straight to your heart. And yet, as hard as you try, you cannot make your mind be still. You can’t stop thinking about big things, little things, important things and what you’ll have for lunch. Here’s the problem: Your right brain is bossing around your left brain and won’t let you focus.

This, my friends, is why we need music in the church.

We live in the day and age of instant gratification and technology at our fingertips. We’re simply not trained to shut off our right brain at a moment’s notice, and when it comes to church, we shouldn’t have to! We have the ability to connect with our Creative God, who gave us both right and left brains as ways to connect with Him.

When we walk into a sanctuary where music is playing, colored lights are flowing, and artistry is on display, our brain breathes a sigh of relief. We connect. We tune in to the life-changing message brought by the pastor. The lyrics remind us why we came to church in the first place. We’re filled with thankfulness for His sacrifice, His victory, the Amazing Grace He freely gives, and we’re led through repentance into deeper intimacy with our Maker we wouldn’t otherwise have.

Worship music helps us take full advantage of the gifts offered in church; the presence of God, the message, the community and fellowship, and connection with our Creator.