(405) 425-5070

Dallas music publication features a cappella worship service at The Hills Church of Christ


Sunday a cappella worship at The Hills Church of Christ. (Photo by Mac McCann, via blogs.dallasobserver.com)

What is The Hills Church of Christ in North Richland Hills, Texas, doing in the Dallas Observer’s trendy DC9 at Night music blog — alongside stories about the Goo Goo Dolls, Neutral Milk Hotel and Brad Paisley?
Actually, it’s the a cappella worship service at The Hills that has the Observer’s attention:

With the lyrics on the big screen over the stage, the church sings classic hymns like “Holy, Holy, Holy” and “Blessed Assurance.” It’s one of the few a cappella services in the area. “We do the a cappella services well,” Lead Worship Minister Ryan Christian noted. “It’s vibrant, so they still love coming to attend that.”
The Hills only offered a cappella services until six years ago. They began offering instrumental services hoping to attract new members, to the disappointment and disapproval of some of the more traditional members of the Churches of Christ. But their risk seems to have paid off: the instrumental services are more popular, especially among new members, and attract a more diverse congregation. The 11 a.m. service at the North Richland Hills campus even has a Spanish translator.
The a cappella services are led by one of the church’s three twelve-member praise teams, which rotate each week. During every third week, when one’s group is scheduled to perform, the members meet for about two hours on Wednesday night and then on Sunday morning for about two and a half hours, including the service time.

Read the full story.

  • Feedback
    It’s a shame your COC went to musical instruments. Saints should not be going to church to be entertained but to praise God by making a joyful noise when we sing a capella. We should not worry about the size of our congregations… we should be concerned with our true believers who we know are retained for their interest in the word not for the possibility of the entertainment.
    Sister Jule
    August, 1 2013

    First of all it’s the word of God, the gospel message that should be drawing people to worship. Christians are told to sing from their heart, not play a piano, organ, guitar or fiddle. You change one thing about worship and before you can bat an eye, you will be a denomination. That goes completely against God instruction for His church. By the way, who got the new revelation to change His orders??
    Patricia Bailes
    August, 1 2013

    Amen Patricia!
    Sister Jule
    August, 1 2013

    Good to see The Hills church drawing positive attention to the Lord’s church. Having a choice to worship with or without instruments can only draw more people to Christ. I wonder how many Non-Christians read The Observer? Will they be drawn to church of Christ? I think yes.
    Alan
    August, 1 2013

    Yes, the Bible clearly says, “sing and make melody in your heart”. It clearly does not say you can only do this without instruments. In fact some folks can only do this with instrumental accompaniment. Can’t we draw them in? Is it causing you to stumble? The Bible does not say “do not use instrumental music”. (The Jewish faith prescribed it under God’s old testament law.)
    The men that started our movement, the Restoration Movement, identified with denominations especially in the earlier years. Why do we now say any denomination is to be unacknowledged? The essential stance of the church of Christ is that we, more than any other group naming the name of Christ, use the scripture to motivate us to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbor as much as we love ourself.
    It certainly is more comfortable to sit in a pew on sunday, sing acapella, hear an inspirational sermon, and go home for lunch and afternoon t.v. To return again for another hour or two before next sunday. Hardly a new testament pattern.
    Al Diana
    August, 1 2013

    I love A cappella music and was raised going to church with only that. I myself still prefer A cappella. I just like it better. But I don’t understand why so many people think that if you have an instrument you are only having it for “entertainment”. Why can’t you use that alone or along with singing as the same beautiful worship to the Lord as A cappella. Many times in the O.Test. musical instruments were used in the worship to God. They were not entertaining themselves. It was pleasing to God and they were worshiping Him. If we are only entertaining ourselves by using an instrument, then that is wrong in my eyes, but if we sing A cappella and are just entertaining ourselves and not in worship to God as we sing, is that not just as wrong. Our focus and our instruction from the Lord as Christians should be “JESUS” and helping all those we can to come to HIM. May Christ’s love be in us all.
    Florence Warwar
    August, 1 2013

    The First Century church did not use instruments, and they still had some of the Apostles to guide them. … As for me and mine, we will worship God in the truth of the Gospel!
    David Moore
    August, 2 2013

    Whoever said you couldn’t worship God with your heart while playing an instrument? David was certainly loved by God. He worshipped God AND played an instrument while doing it. What was God’s reaction? Criticism? Abandonment? NO. He LOVED David’s heart. Are we going to totally dismiss David because he was Old Testament news and we can’t find a single mention of an instrument in the New Testament (being a “New Testament” church)? If we do, we have judged more harshly than God himself and have missed the whole point, or dare I say, the whole heart of the matter.
    jason
    August, 2 2013

    I think this is awesome. I love to see that y’all have taken worship to heart regardless of whether it is the instrumental service or the “traditional” service.
    I personally love to worship passionately and I can do so with instruments or without. But I desire worship, not people going through the movements without passion. I have seen a capella worship become old and tired and instrumental worship become loud and concert like…neither of these are useful to me.
    I applaud The Hills church for doing such a good job that they have caught the attention of those around them.
    Jessica Knapp
    August, 2 2013

    One brother says he opposes Christian use of musical instruments because the apostolic church had no instruments, he thinks. They also had no hymnals, no communion cups, and never use automobiles or electricity. If we want to be just like the church when it was led by the apostles, we have many things to discard. What would help the anti-instrument position would be to find a contrary word from an apostle concerning use of musical instruments when singing to and about God. It’s obvious there is no apostolic prohibition for musicians serving God with their God-given talents. Yet some people today make such a law and think they’re pleasing God by doing so.
    Ray Downen
    August, 2 2013

    God gave us instructions of what He wants in worship services and not what you want, it’s that simple.
    Sandra Jones
    August, 5 2013

    New Testament is clear about the matter: “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord” – Ephesians 5:19.
    The history books are clear about the matter: older historians and encyclopists who dated the introduction of instrumental music in church worship from the early 600s.
    Do we add cheese with the bread during the Lord’s Supper so it will taste better and attract more people to our assemblies?
    We should remember what happened to Eli and his two sons in 1 Samuel in chapters 2-3 when we ignore the doing of ‘what is right’ in the sight of our God. (I know the instrumental people don’t like it when we argue the use of “unauthorized fire” by Nadab and Abihu).
    Dennis
    August, 6 2013

    To me it is pretty clear. If you cannot read about it in the New Testament worship, it must come from the traditions of men making the worship vain. Matthew 15:9
    Richard Roberts
    August, 8 2013

    It’s funny how churches that have broken out of the traditional mode by doing things like instrumental music in worship also tend to be the churches having the greatest impact in the world. Maybe they have leaders that are seeing something that people who won’t even allow themselves to experience what’s going on in these churches before making a judgment see. I challenge anyone here to pray, fast, and study as much as they can about how things were actually done in the first century before like the leaders of these churches have done before making a critical comment about the way a church like The Hills is drawing attention to their church which in turn is drawing attention to Jesus. Read books by authors like Frank Viola, Danny Corbitt, N.T. Wright, Jay Guin. You don’t have to agree with everything they write, but it will force you to consider things you didn’t even know about before because you were uneducated about certain things you thought you knew everything on. And remember, these people love Christ too! There is background to the Bible that will change what versus that include words like psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs mean compared to what tradition has taught us.
    Adam Legler
    August, 8 2013

    The challenge has been and always will be: Where do we find any New Testament verse that shows instruments in Worship? Enough said!
    Tom H.
    August, 8 2013

    Dennis, to many, the clear meaning of a Psalm meant the possible inclusion of instrumental praise, as many of the Psalm’s mention. Perhaps what’s so clear to you isn’t so clear to every other Christ follower. Perhaps this is an area that falls under Paul’s admonition to not pass judgement on another’s opinions (Romans 14:1, NASB)and not judging the servant of another (Romans 14:4). That so many Christians don’t see the point as clearly as some might suggest that it’s not a core doctrine of the Bible (hard to imagine that music could be). Perhaps if we each decided to follow our conscience on the matter, without judging others who differ, we might make a step toward the unity for which Christ prayed. And perhaps we wouldn’t consume so much time and energy on this issue which doesn’t seem (at least to me) to feature very prominently in the teachings of Christ.
    RK
    August, 8 2013

    The instructions for the “worship service” – a term never used in the New Testament – are that all things be done for edification. That’s it. There are no more instructions beyond that. If the instruction is to sing “psalms” and the psalm commands “praise him with trumpet and strings,” one would be hardpressed to label it sinful. If the apostles associated themselves with temple worship, and Peter, John, and Paul certainly did in Acts 3 and 21, then by necessary inference, it isn’t “sinful.” Now, whether instrumental worship is beneficial in addition to lawful, there might be a discussion. But in terms of explicit instruction and restriction… good luck with that one. Sure sounds like a disputable matter, right along side the meat sacrificed to idols and observing special days.
    Alan
    August, 8 2013

    This article could have very easily been written about any number of denominational churches: praise team, changing “traditional” worship to attract a diverse group, etc. These things seem a little worldly to me- by that I mean like most everyone else in the world. Let God’s holy Word make the impression and draw people in to fellowship and learn. Better yet, why don’t we GO OUT and take the Good News to others as we were commanded. Let’s not lose sight of what our focus should be. Jesus told us plainly. This should never even be an issue to those who study His Word. “There is [only] one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all…”
    Green
    August, 8 2013

    Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
    When one takes the time to read everything the Old Testament says about instruments in worship, one will discover that God gave very detailed instructions. He said what instruments to use, how many instrumentos to use and how to make them. He said that only men from the Tribe of Levi were to play the instruments. The instruments were only played in the city of Jerusalem, at the tabernacle (later the temple)and over the burnt sacrifice. These specific instructions for Old Testament temple excluded women from playing, excluded men from other tribes from playing, excluded the instruments from being played in other cities and for other worship occasions. King David wrote Psalms to be accompanied by instruments played by the men from the Tribe of Levi, over the burnt sacrifice, in Jerusalem at the tabernacle (later the temple) as instructed by God. Young David strummed his harp for King Saul, but did not worship God with it. During Babylonian captivity, read the Psalms the men from the Tribe of Levi wrote. They hung up their harps for 70 years, because they could not play them in another city. When Ezra and Nehemiah returned with the people to Jerusalem after captivity, the Old Testament temple worship was restored. When synagogues began to appear during the time between the Old and New Testaments, there was not any instrumental music, for this happened only in Jerusalem, at the temple and over the burnt sacrifice. At the time of Jesus, He would never pick up an instrument to play in worship to God, because He is from the Tribe of Judah and would have disobeyed God’s instructions. Jesus never said, “Look at Psalm 150 as instructions for New Testament worship.” Psalm 150 is specific that the instruments are to be played in “His sanctuary” in Jerusalem and you already who could do it and when they did it. One cannot go back to the Old Testament for authority for use of instruments in New Testament worship. New Testament music for worship was only singing for 600 years. When the first Pope brought the instrument in to worship, it divided the church. The use of it can from pagan influences and not Old Testament authority. History shows that the major denominations started without the instrument in worship for lack of New Testament authority, and later some brought it into their worship and divided everyone of them. Let’s promote unity and follow the New Testament Scriptures which have all truth. Let’s allow the death of Christ on the cross be what draws people to God. Take the time to read the whole Old Testament for yourself and discover what I have shared with you, instead of just repeating what others have said. With love in Christ, Alan
    Alan
    August, 8 2013

    If someone wants to do a thorough study of this subject I would recommend Old Light on New Worship by John Price. He addresses the topic from a comprehensive scriptural and historical perspective.
    For those who rely upon OT figures like David as support for the use of instruments, do they also support modern use of animal sacrifices like David utilized?
    The entire Tabernacle/Temple experience was intended to impact the senses of the Jewish nation (audibly, visually, etc…). Admittedly, trumpets only were authorized by God under the Tabernacle system, and other instruments were utilized under the Temple system. However, even this focused approach was largely abandoned under the Synagogue system after the captivities.
    Eric
    August, 8 2013

    Eric, wasn’t instrumental music in the Old Testament temple practice established when the Temple was constructed? It wasn’t included in the Law of Moses, which contained the laws of Old Covenant worship, like the sacrificial system and the burning of incense. These were (animal sacrifice and incense burning), it seems, the things that were types and shadows (things included in the worship at the Tabernacle). These were the things mentioned in the Hebrew letter that were a part of that system. Not the instruments which came many generations later. I don’t think we can put the playing of instruments in the same category as these types which pointed to a greater spiritual reality that would be fulfilled in Christ.
    This clarification is perhaps why you don’t see any Christian group arguing for the addition of animal sacrifice and an altar of incense.
    Prior to the introduction of the instruments at the temple, David seemed to feel free to accompany his singing with instruments, with no command in the Law to do so. And he often directed others to do likewise, did he not?
    RK
    August, 8 2013

    The Dallas Observer’s reporter described it well!
    Venue: “With the lyrics on the big screen over the stage.”
    Praise team: “When one�s group is scheduled to perform.”
    Even their a cappella service is a stage performance.
    Click on my link for “Sing to the Lord,” which explains why God omitted instruments from New Covenant worship.
    Roy Davison
    August, 8 2013

    These comments are an example of WHY Jesus prayed the prayer he did in John 17: “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” And then we wonder why we are not having a greater impact on the world. God forgive us.
    David
    August, 8 2013

    As soon as I see intrumental worship where everyone gets an instrument, I might be persuaded to try it. Until then, I’m out!
    Kevin Landreth
    August, 8 2013

    It’s great to see the diversity of music being used within the CoC. It’s time to stop majoring in the minor issues. Issues that we CoCers have such weak arguments for. Praise God for The Hills and may Jesus’ name reach more and more through these brothers & sisters of ours.
    Nathan
    August, 8 2013

    RK,
    Not exactly. The use of trumpets only were authorized under the Tabernacle system. (See Lev. 23, Deut 12:28,32)
    Eric
    August, 8 2013

    “Speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where it is silent.”
    The New Testament is silent in two areas: The <i>approval</i> of instrumental music in our praise services, and the <i>condemnation</i> of instrumental music in our praise services. And instrumental music was very much a part of the various cultures the apostles missioned to and wrote to, so they were not unaware of its presence throughout their world.
    Regardless of my personal beliefs and perspectives (I happen to disagree with instruments in corporate praise as used at The Hills and other churches of Christ), I have learned from scripture that this is not a matter worthy of outright condemnation – because scripture CLEARLY condemns so many other things. And yet we get bent out of shape over THIS?
    Think about this: In Acts 3, people sold their homes and property, gave that money to the church leaders and they gave it to those in genuine need. Today, all members, including the unemployed, paycheck-to-paycheckers, the retired, etc give money to the church leaders who turn around and invest it in church property — land, buildings, AV systems, signage, paid staff, rec halls, busses… I could go on. Doesn’t that sound a bit backward from Acts 3? These are readily observed in most of our churches of Christ. How are these not “adding to” the sufficient practices of the first century church?
    Simple: We see them as an extension of our existence as a congregation, despite the abject absence of command, example, or inference (and who said inference rises to the level of command, anyway? Careful there…). We strive to be excellent stewards and to make wise choices for God’s glory. Likewise, our brethren who use instruments see them as an extension of praise — <b>essentially employing the same principle we do</b> for everything from individual song leaders to slide projectors, steeples and staff.
    Either way, we’re ALL sinking millions of dollars into STUFF that will burn instead into mission efforts, domestic and foreign, that save souls from the fire. Churches around the world and here in our own country are shriveling up and going away because we’re too hot to get a praise band (when singing is just fine) or new kitchen appliances (when the ones we have work fine) or a playground (when the kids seem happy playing tag, ball, or hide-and-seek in the yard or field) or “whatever THING it is” that will only show the community and the lost how serious we are about saving and keeping their souls. I admire the congregations that do more with less, who know better than to appeal to the materialism of the world.
    The New Testament is silent in two areas: The <i>approval</i> of instrumental music in our praise services, and the <i>condemnation</i> of instrumental music in our praise services. But it is abundantly loud and clear about what’s important to the heart of Christ: What have we to show for that?
    Joe
    August, 8 2013

    Let’s all take a deep breath about this issue about instrumental music. Is it a heaven or hell issue? Scripturally speaking, I don’t think it is.
    Folks, we are letting Satan divide us and prevent us from sending forth the gospel of Christ when we start bickering about whether or not God allows instrumental worship. I submit to you, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we do not know enough to judge the hearts of others. Only God can do that.
    I am of the belief that God’s grace is sufficient enough when it comes to people who worships Him with instruments. He knows the hearts of those who are worshipping Him, and I suspect that He values the worship of one whose heart is full of praise in an instrumental music setting compared to one who just sings the a capella songs with his thoughts on things other than worship.
    I am NOT going to judge others for their desire to worship God with instruments. That is not my place to do so, and is is not your place to do so either. So, with that in mind, why can’t we all just work with each other in the spreading of the gospel and saving the lost and let God deal with the issue of instrumental music in a worship setting.
    After all, I am sure that is more pleasing to God rather than just bickering about instrumental music while others are losing their souls.
    Stephen Maple
    August, 8 2013

    When my wife and I visited the Hills a year ago, we went to the a cappella service. One thing that impressed us was that the only singing that we heard was the praise team. As we looked around us, it became clear that hardly anyone in the audience was singing. I use the word “audience” and not “congregation” because it certainly looked as though people were there to enjoy the professional quality of singing.
    Years ago at another congregation, instrumental music was introduced. The music was so loud that all the singing was drowned out.
    A secondary problem of introducing issues is that those who do so violate other basic Christian teachings. One is that the Scriptures give no instructions for using instrumental music, and for 600 years, the church did not. Another teaching is not to cause a brother to violate his or her conscience. Still another is not to divide the church.
    It seems that every 100 years we fight over instrumental music and split congregations. Satan must be very happy.
    Ed Wittlif
    August, 8 2013

    Years ago my daughter attended a religious private school. I brought my mother for one of the school’s evening programs. Some singers came on stage and sang their hymns with guitars, tamborines, drums, etc. We weren’t critical but when we were driving home we both agreed that we were SO THANKFUL that GOD wants us to only “SING”.(we’re not distracted by the loud beat)
    Singing alone helps us to sing with our heart &amp; soul while we’re obeying God’s word as part of our worship to HIM. And isn’t it great that we all share in that singing with HIS body, the Church. To me that’s beautiful, even if one member can’t carry a tune, we’re singing praises to the Lord together the way God wants it.
    pam
    August, 8 2013

    I grew up with “speak where the Scriptures speak; be silent where the Scriptures are silent”, and have lived long enough to observe that most of our problems in the church can be traced directly to “speaking where the Scriptures are silent; and remaining silent where the Scriptures speak”.
    I am heartened by those who have responded to this article by calling our attention to Jesus speaking, praying in John 17:21 for the oneness of all believers. Calling the Body of Christ to make His prayer our own has become my PASSION! May we all not only speak what Jesus speaks, but also pray what Jesus prayed!
    We would love to send a FREE* Jesus’ Prayer Banner (*certain conditions apply) to any church that will hang it where all can see when God’s people gather for worship around the Lord’s Table. For full information email us: [email protected]
    Tom (Jn.17:21) Mackey
    August, 8 2013

    While I absolutely agree with the cited scriptures about God’s plan for unity (Eph. 4:1-6), how a person’s heart is the focus of NT worship (Romans), and how a church’s mission should be to preach the Gospel and serve others, I must respectfully disagree with the espoused notion that explicit, defined instructions under an old system (see Alan above) are license for global conduct under a different NT system, simply because it may be more appealing to some. In my opinion, to suggest that, is historically and scripturally misleading. Further, Solomon/Nehemiah/Zerubbabel continued/reinstituted animal sacrifices under the Temple system, so I fail to follow the distinction being made by RK.
    Likewise, reliance on what the first (many of whom were out of town travelers) Christian converts temporarily did in Jerusalem, in the days after Pentecost, as global commands for future churches, ignores the church models contained in the rest of Acts and most of Paul’s epistles. Deviation from that narrow conduct is not persuasive as permission for deviation as to worship. A stronger argument might be abandoning home churches for sanctuaries, even though Paul and others taught in synagogues.
    It has nothing to do with “judging” (Sometimes we forget to read the rest of Luke 6 AFTER verses 37-42, or to read John 14: 23-24). It should have everything to do with searching and understanding the scriptures.
    God should be worshipped on His terms, not ours.
    Eric
    August, 8 2013

    John 14:23: Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. NASB
    The inspired apostle John said in 2 John 9: “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.”
    NIV
    Doyal Wright
    August, 8 2013

    “One’s group is scheduled to “perform.”
    Will Stuts
    August, 8 2013

    A few questions that need to be carefully pondered:
    1. Why has it in recent years become the trend to ardently desire a
    favorable reception from the religious world? In fact, it seems
    to me that this has become the gauge that many are using today
    to gauge the success of their work. This is far different from
    the approach of the early church that I read about in the book
    of Acts.
    2. It is always a wonderful thing when non-Christians come to the
    services of the church. But are the thousands that flock to where
    instrumental music is being used in worship hearing the truth of
    the gospel? Are they hearing a message that is strictly grounded
    in a “thus saith the Lord”?
    3 What has brought about the change in the way some in the church
    are understanding how the Bible authorizes? It has not been that
    long ago when more members of the church understood the difference
    between aids (things being used to carry out what the Scriptures
    teach) and additions (adding to what the Scriptures teach). I
    believe more preachers need to dust off their old sermon outlines
    on “How the Bible authorizes,” and again fervently preach them.
    Colossians 3:17 still teaches, “Whatsoever you do in word or deed,
    do all in the name (by the authority of) of the Lord.”
    Bruce Ligon
    August, 8 2013

    For those against instrumental music in worship, I hope that you do not ever listen to the radio or go to a concert since worship for the Christian is their lifestyle according to Romans 12:1,2.
    And the Greek word for Psalms means with or without instruments, which you would have to take an effort of studying Greek and outside sources to know that.
    If we want to take the perspective that instruments could only be used like they were in the OT as far as who plays them and what kind, then show me in the NT where we should be doing three songs and a prayer before a sermon and then an invitation song like many C of Cs have done in the past.
    Jesus died to free us, not bind us to more regulations and laws. Let’s take the line that James did in Acts and make it easy for the lost to come to Christ. Instrumental music helps that in our culture.
    Adam Legler
    August, 8 2013

    Eric,
    I should clarify. The trumpets were not a part of worship at the tabernacle like they would later be used at the Temple. They were blown at times to commemorate certain festivals, and to be blown as a sign for various Israelite’s to set out from a camped position. This, at least to me, doesn’t seem to suggest that they are a part of the types and shadows that found there fulfillment in Christ, unless I’ve missed something.
    RK
    August, 8 2013

    1 Cor 10:31, Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. NASB
    Doyal Wright
    August, 8 2013

    RK,
    While I agree trumpets were used in the manner you describe, they were also used in the “sacred assembly” and “at your times of rejoicing” and in conjunction with animal sacrifices. (Lev. 23; Numbers 10:10; 29:1-6). They were only authorized to be blown by priests as well. Numbers 10:8
    I also agree with Adam that the original Greek should be studied to fully understand the issue. There are 4 non-worship references to musical instruments in the NT (Matt. 9:23; 11:17; Luke 15:25; and 1 Cor. 14:7-8), and 10 references to singing (Greek word Psallos–Matt. 26:30/John 16:28; 17:1; Acts 16:25; Romans 15:9; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12; 13:15; and James 5:13) and 6 (Greek word Psalmos–Luke 20:42; 24:44; Acts 1:20; 13:33; 1 Cor. 14:26; Col. 3:16) recorded in NT. None of these events identify an instrument of any kind was used. While etymologists agree there are 5 historical meanings of these Greek words, they, and virtually all of the 1st and 2nd Century Apologetic writers agree the 1st Century meaning was to sing with human praise. The early church councils at Laodicea and Carthage also condemned musical instruments in worship as well.
    Eric
    August, 8 2013

    “For those against instrumental music in worship, I hope that you do not ever listen to the radio or go to a concert since worship for the Christian is their lifestyle according to Romans 12:1,2.”
    This is based on a misunderstanding of the Romans passage, fueled by bad translations that have appeared recently. The word mistranslated “worship” is properly translated “service” in most translations. The word pertains to the ritual service performed by a priest in the tabernacle or temple, and only appears five times in the NT, whereas words for Christian worship appear far more often. Paul, in addressing primarily the Jewish Christians throughout the book of Romans, is instructing them concerning the elements of the Christian faith that replace elements of their old covenant practices. Thus, everyone is a priest, the circumcision of the heart is important now rather than the circumcision of the flesh, etc. But, if we are all priests, then what is our priestly service/ritual? Paul’s answer is that we should serve God with our whole lives/bodies. For the other four uses of the Greek word, see John 16:2, Romans 9:4, and Hebrews 9:1,6. You will not find a reference to Christian worship among them.
    It is a shame that this passage has been abused by those with an axe to grind in favor of instruments. I note that they do not apply their interpretation consistently, as there is much we do in our lives seven days a week that can be pleasing to God that they do not propose to introduce into Sunday worship assemblies.
    Clark Coleman
    August, 8 2013

    1. According to scripture, what is God’s purpose for including music in the Christian’s worship to Him?
    2. What was/is man’s purpose for adding instruments to worship? (Hint: for nearly the 1st 1000 years after Christ, ALL music in Christian worship was vocal only.)
    3. Are the two compatible?
    4. If so, no problem. Do whatever you want.
    5. If not, and you choose to violate God’s purpose, are you prepared to accept the consequences?
    Trish Horner
    August, 9 2013

    Clark,

    Can you please clarify your last post? Which words for Christian worship are you talking about? It seems that you are backing up what I am saying. By using the same word that referred to OT worship, Paul is saying that things have changed and our worship is no longer defined by a worship “service” and we thus should not be judging or condemning for worship styles unless of course they are sinful in the case of sexual immorality and other sins mentioned in the NT.

    Your comment encouraged me to go back and look more closely at the word. The resources I’ve looked at say the Greek word in Romans 12 technically means “the service of worship”.
    Can you explain to me why Paul used the Greek word for Psalms that means with or without instruments when talking about singing? Is this interpretation wrong? What resources can I go to to confirm it?

    Saying this with respect, it seems that your interpretation is inconsistent. I am still in a church that only sings acapella. But I’ve worshiped with instruments before at other places and could not see what sin was being committed when everyone was sold out in praise and the NT gives more support for it than it ever does against it. It

    Adam Legler
    August, 9 2013

    Being a living sacrifice of religious service does not mean we may worship God any old way we please. To the contrary! All we do, including worship, must be done the way God tells us, rather than how we want. Doing all in the name of the Lord (Col. 3:17) does not mean that our burps are worship. In His name means “by His authority”! All our actions must be guided by His word. He tells us to break bread in worship, so we break bread (without adding baloney). He tells us to sing, so we sing (without adding instruments). Click on my name for “What is worship?”, an article defining worship and discussing all NT passages.
    Roy Davison
    August, 10 2013

    How ironic that the French Catholics are abandoning instrumental music in Worship with their great interest in restoration of the primitive church while we are trying to add it on.. I personally saw this with an assembly in Marseille directed in song by an ordinary citizen dressed in a sport coat and tie. He even beat time like us with our song leaders. “En Famillie” magazine has reported some 10,000 some years being immersed for the remission of sins. 100 % restored? No, but it is progress.
    Instrumental music in the Western churches is a cultural phenomenon dealing with upper middle class churches in competition. They are in the minority worldwide.
    Jean Paul Hundley
    Brussels Belgium
    JEANPAUL
    August, 10 2013

    Roy,
    Your article does a great job of describing the kind of spirit we should have when we worship and the fact that God wants our life to be worship to him. But it does not show proof of the NT giving commands about using instruments or not or really even how to do a worship service. It shows a great deal of how they worship in Heaven. But you make reference back to the OT when God apparently did not mind instruments.
    Since you listed several verses from Revelation about worship in Heaven, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind adding the following verses where angels are described having harps during this worship: 5:8 and 15:2.
    And since you referred back to the OT, you must be fair and include Psalms 150. If God is consistent on the spirit of worship from the OT to the NT, then why would He take away our options of worshipping him?
    Adam Legler
    August, 10 2013

    Dear Adam,
    Clicking on my name this time will take you to a video lecture on worship.
    Harps in Revelation 5:8 have symbolic meaning, as does incense (the prayers of the saints). Can you provide us with some “harps of God” (15:2)?
    You ask, “Why would He take away our options of worshiping him?” That is His business. He is the Boss. You know good and well that He <b>has</b> taken away options of worshiping him. So what is your point? Do you sacrifice a sheep at Jerusalem three times a year? The article linked to at my first comment, “Sing to the Lord!” explains why God has omitted instruments from NT worship.
    You misrepresent my article defining worship. Our whole life is <b>not</b> worship, but religious service. Worship is something very special we do at specific times.
    Roy Davison
    August, 11 2013

    I really appreciate the tone and spirit behind most of the comments so far. Normally we don’t allow people to address each other back and forth repeatedly, but the discussion has been civil and respectful, so I’ve given a bit more leeway than usual. Still, we are bordering on some real back-and-forth discussions here, so I’m going to ask that the participants contact each other via e-mail if you want to continue this dialogue. Thanks again.
    Erik Tryggestad
    August, 11 2013

    Regarding the actual article, it’s great that our churches can get exposure like this. Especially for the focus on a capella music, even if it is because it’s so unusual to most that it seems “kitschy”. Positive exposure is positive exposure.
    I’ll bring out something that I was taught by an excellent, wise hitting coach: Sometimes there is honor in letting a pitch go. Just because you’re dying to hit something doesn’t mean you have to swing at everything.
    For goodness sakes, people, let this one go by. Just focus on the story at hand and resist the temptation to start whacking each other with your Doctrinal Sluggers.
    Randall
    August, 21 2013

Filed under: News Extras News Links

Don’t miss out on more stories like this.

Subscribe today to receive more inspiring articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox twice a month.

Did you enjoy this article?

Your donation helps us not only keep our quality of journalism high, but helps us continue to reach more people in the Churches of Christ community.

$
Personal Info

Dedicate this Donation

In Honor/Memory of Details

Card Notification Details

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.
Billing Details

Donation Total: $3 One Time