The Degeneration of Modern Worship Music

What is happening to worship music in the last 1o years?

Many modern worship songs are no longer about bringing praise and glory to God.

Many modern worship songs are no longer about theological truth taken off the pages of Scripture.

Unfortunately, much of modern worship music is a copy-cat of the tunes and cliché phrases in current pop music.  Thanks to Gabe Bogdan, check out the worship song below:

“I can feel your presence here with me

Suddenly I’m lost within your beauty

Caught up in the wonder of your touch

Here in this moment, I surrender to your love”

That is a far cry from theologically correct worship as in the song “Lord I Lift Your Name on High” from just 25 years ago:

“You came from heaven to earth 
To show the way 
From the earth to the cross 
My debt to pay 
From the cross to the grave 
From the grave to the sky 
Lord, I lift Your name on high”

Even without hearing the “lost within your beauty” song, it reads much like a teen pop song, the kind that rolls at 140 bpm and sets the stage for lust…

Speaking of lust… Let us define lust…Webster’s dictionary defines lust as “intense or unbridled sexual desire.” Then what would be the purpose of the following lyrics in Jesus Culture’s “I am in love with you” song?

“Everyday my heart is in lust for You, So I will abandon myself to You”

Such songs do not describe the “Holy, Holy, Holy” God of Isaiah 6, but a god of lust, a god of personal relationships, and a god of emotions.  That is not my God.

The Triune God of the Bible will not receive the worship of “strange fire” brought about by compromising the message of praise and worship with lyrical content from the world.

Instead we will continue to delight in songs such as this one:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

image credit: metrolyrics.com

40 comments on “The Degeneration of Modern Worship Music

  1. Amen! I prefer those good ole gospel songs and miss hearing them. Unless I play them at home there is not a Christian radio station in my area that plays the “oldies” I find it very difficult to get into a worshiping mood listening to the new songs. ~ Blessings ~

    • I like the new and the old, but some of the new stuff is just very, very shallow. There is one song that goes for like 7 minutes and all the sing is “I will pursue you”

      Image standing or sitting in church repeating that line… oh…

  2. Wow, I guess I’m really sheltered from what’s happened to worship music today. Do they really sing “lust” in a worship song?? We sing both old and new at our church services, and the worship team works closely with our elders to make sure that the worship songs are exactly that: worship!

  3. I do remember hearing “lust” in the worship song and thinking “what??..let’s go back to the verse and ‘see’ if i’m right”.
    Had discussions with some people regarding new modern worship songs and that. They were speaking the truth and i’ve also decided to be true to my God and pay attention and i pray for To be enlightened regarding the verses that are against Biblical truth.
    God help us..

  4. I have to say, This is just ridiculous. We don’t live by rule and regulation, We live through grace! These songs are expressions of love and gratitude to our savior. To count them as lust is like counting David dancing before the lord as vulgar. Don’t shame other Christians for worshiping differently than you, Open your heart and allow the holy spirit to move. Write a praise song to your God and let it be sweet and wholesome in your own heart. I am actually sickened by this article. What matters is someone’s heart condition. Not your view of what a good worship song is. Different songs allow people to worship and give thanks differently.

    • Anna, I am sorry the article made you sick. For something to make someone sick, it has to be beyond bad. What exactly was it?

      The fact that I pointed out the truth? The fact that some irreverent and uninspired songwriter is bringing teep-pop terminology into worship?

      Let me tell you what makes me sick:

      Worship leaders who are not born-again leading our American and Romanian brethren in worship.

      Worship leaders who dress metrosexual on stage, skinny jeans, dark gothic attire and who try to perform as if in front of an audience, like at a concert.

      Also the idea that someone’s heart is all that counts. The heart does count of course, but the OUTSIDE WILL SHOW WHAT IS IN THEIR HEART.

      Now, if you are attentive, I wrote “many” not all worship songs.

      We have great modern worship songwriters, such as Tomlin, Redman, Kauflin. I do not count Kim Walker in there. At the upcoming Romanian youth convention in Arizona, I will be leading worship with songs by both Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman. But the word lust will not be in the songs.

      And the word “lust” truly should make you sick when using it to worship God.

      • What made me sick was the attitude of your article. Your response also has the same attitude. I was merely saying that there are many kinds of worship…I did not endorse using the word lust, although synonyms for lust would be, to long for, desire, or yearn for, It would have been a better idea to use one of those, I agree. But, It makes me sick that you would assume someone dressed “metro-sexually” or in skinny jeans are non believers. It makes me sick that you would jump to judgment of a fellow christian for a clothing article or a poor word choice in a song meant to worship the God you also worship. It’s sad that Christians are the first to shoot their wounded. I also didn’t say that the ONLY thing that matters is their heart condition, I meant that it is the most important element of worship. Sorry I did not specify that. I hope that you don’t judge these kids you are leading as harshly as you seem to judge other worshipers. I hope you lead them in a heart of joy and grace. I hope you don’t assume they are of poor heart condition when you see their skinny jeans and metro styles. I hope you do not condemn those kids or scare them out of service with your attitude.

        • Dear Anna, all I did was tell the truth and point out that our worship is infiltrated by elements found in the world, and you jumped all over this in an emotional way.

          Now, lets be reasonable. I will guarantee you that I will not scare anyone out of service no matter how they are dressed or how they behave, whether they are Christians or not…

          But we must judge leaders differently. They must be a model for their audience, wounldn’t you agree?

          Should we not hold them at a high standard, especially when it comes to the lyrics of their songs?

  5. Very good points touched in this material! Some of the Romanian worship composers are trying to spice up the things unfortunately stretching way over the normal sense of some words or expressions just for the sake of being original when in reality they are shallow and immature.

  6. “Amazing Grace” was once a “new-modern worship song and many old hymn tunes were adapted from bar tunes. Furthermore, many of the Gospel songs I grew up with and are still used in many rural churches are theologically unsound yet no one decries that fact, they simply choose to bash/trash the new!
    God could care less what WE think about worship because worship is not for or about us – its all Him! I’m glad God puts “a new song in my mouth” and praise in my tongue!
    While I agree, there are some shallow worship songs today, that is nothing new – shallow hymns have been sung and revered for centuries! Stop fussing about personal preferences and worship JESUS!

    • TS, thanks for the comment. You are correct about older songs as well. Some are theologically unsound, but I would say that trend has intensified lately.

      Also… There is no comparison between “in lust for you” and “amazing grace how sweet the sound”

  7. Pingback: The Degeneration of Modern Worship Music | Delight in Truth | Christian Music Jukebox

  8. Delight in truth… you are touching the two major idols of the modern Christian , his entertainment (also known by them as “worship”) and the freedom to be sensual (in Christ of course)
    The majority of the modern church is apostate…Look where the majority is , and you run the other way…..For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it…..

  9. Pingback: The Degeneration of Modern Worship Music | Delight in Truth | Worship Leaders

  10. Pingback: SIDNEY WAS A PIRATE | Wings of the Wind

  11. Delight in Truth, this is so true in so many ways! It’s really unfortunate how many of our most commonly sung worship songs are totally lacking in the rich, God-glorifying kind of theological truth that we should expect from worship songs. To be fair, I think there have been a number of shallow worship songs/hymns from past generations (e.g. “Gimme that old time religion”), but I think the proportion and general prevalence of shallow songs has definitely risen in the last 15 years. Amen to your post.

    Still, I wouldn’t completely right off all contemporary worship writers (not that you have done this). I think there is a sizable core of songwriters that are writing amazingly deep stuff. For example: The Getty’s, Stuart Townend, Shane & Shane, Laura Story, The Ember Days, Jeremy Camp, and much of MercyMe’s work as well, whom you quoted from above. Hillsong United has produced plenty of theologically rich work over the years, though obviously some of it is better than others. (Watch for The Getty’s… they’re producing a ton of amazingly God-glorifying work). I wish our churches and youth gatherings would focus more on the theologically rich core of modern worship music and give less attention to the fluff. I’m right there with you in wishing for more biblical truth in our worship music, but I also think sometimes it’s easy for us to see present situations as worse than than actually are.

    It may help for us to have different categories of “Christian” music. Some music is packed with theological truth, artistically good, and yet is not very conducive to corporate worship (in a church setting). An example of this might be something from Casting Crowns or Gungor. Other songs may be great for corporate worship, but make lousy car music. So we really need different categories by which to judge our music. Ultimately, I think it is important to remember that songs are just a medium for true worship of our Creator. Songs are not something we offer up to God, as a gift in and of themselves. Rather, they are simply a medium for our hearts to engage Him in the same way that we (hopefully) are engaging Him throughout our day. Insofar as a song helps us toward that end, I think we should sing it.

    • Daniel, thank you for your comment. It is very well balanced and packs lots of truth. The bands and songwriters you listed have a history well written songs for the glory of God. The older Hillsongs seem much more inspired than the new ones. I stopped following them for that reason…

      I actually love many of the contemporary worship songs, but generally speaking I agree with you that they are more shallow. The tone in my article put off some folks, but I felt I had tax the kind of language used by JC…

      God bless you!

  12. I was actually just thinking this to myself a few weeks ago as I was listening to a local Christian station. So much of the newer stuff has no depth whatsoever and is so much more focused on “me” than on God. I seriously wonder if some of these stations actually read the lyrics of every song they play and compare it to theological truth or if they just play whatever is supposed to be “hot”. There are a few songs I’ve heard that I think could easily pass on a secular station. They aren’t promoting sin per-se, but they don’t even mention God or Christ and just talk about how sad they feel or how broken they are and they need help. There are worldly songs with that same message by bands that aren’t Christian and certainly aren’t looking to God for help. Anyway, enough of my soap box. Keep up the good work!

  13. I’m not a huge Jesus Culture guy either, but let’s be a lot more fair to them.

    Comparing it to Lord I Lift Your Name On High as being theologically sound?! It attempts to describe the whole Gospel in the chorus while missing the most important part…the resurrection!!

    Also, you conveniently stuck with definition #2 for lust, while the very next definition is an intense longing or enthusiasm, ie. lust for success, lust for life. My heart having an intense longing for God…actually doesn’t sound too bad.

    • The biblical/Christian sense of the word “lust” is one of a sexual nature, so the primary definition of the word applies.

      Also the resurrection is in that particular chorus “from the grave to the sky” 🙂

      • I dunno…there’s a lot of people that ascribe to ‘from the grave to the sky’ that don’t believe in resurrection. It kinda misses the earth part, if we’re gonna be nitpicky.
        And we use our native languages to communicate with God. If you’re purely going to define the word by what you call the biblical/Christian sense of the word, why bother referring to Webster in your post?

        • Point taken… Let me ask you, would you feel comfortable using this phrase in your prayer or worship knowing it’s connotation in both biblical and everyday vocabulary?

        • At the Council of Niceae, 1,800 bishops debated the Latin word that would be used to describe the “essence” of Jesus in reference to the His divine nature in the Trinity. At stake was the very doctrine of the Trinity. Words are very important in reference to our worship of God. Are we worshipping a god we create in our minds or hearts? Or are we worshipping the God revealed in Scripture. Sola Scripture.

          I would never say I lust after my earthly father. There are words I would use in reference to praise to my Heavenly Father that I would not for my earthy father, but lust would never make the list.

          Yes we hold leaders to a higher standard (James 3:1).

  14. I listen to Christian Radio (UCB & Premier) as often as possible and have not heard of “Jesus Culture” before reading this article. Do not postulate a trend because one little known group has poor theology.

  15. There are more viewpoints that may be pointed out. First, for mature christians, modern lyrics would not represent any threat, since they carry the right meanings in their hearts, they picture the right values. For newborns in Christ, who don’t have a strong position and understanding of Him, such lyrics my be confusing, they can overlap the right, biblical meanings and charge them with something else. For a long term prospective, lyrics with double sense would be dominant and that might represent a threat. So good point.

  16. Ministers are guilty as he went for glory, no longer true life of God ;
    accept any fear of losing our jobs pastor ?
    Why Christianity is no longer the order and heavenly glory gone ?
    Decay of Christianity , not to say he did not come Seducing a sudden .
    We make blogs and talk !
    Basically : when it will change?
    Or we want to throw , let him vomit Lord ?

      • . 🙂
        da, dl google nu stie sa traduca nici cit mine. 😉
        legat de “manifestraile muzicale” din biserici,
        spun ca o mare parte de vina o au pastorii,
        poate pt ca isi pierd slujbele;
        nu este comod sa fii hotarit , sa iei atitudini;
        daca lucrurile stau asa, Dumnezeu Tatal va ridica barbati adevarati care sa faca o reforma adevarata, barbati care sa nu accepte ca predicarea Cuvintului,
        sa fie precedata de o manifestare desueta a muzicii duhovnicesti, daca ma pot
        exprima asa.
        Avem nevoie disparata de o noua prezentare a lui Hristos,
        pina inimile noastre nu se vor deschide pentru aceasta,
        Dumnezeu Tatal va fi intristat si ne va varsa din Gura Sa,
        pentru ca am amestesct lumea cu lucrurile sfinte;
        s a pierdut slava si putem spune ca nu mai este viata
        si putere.
        Avem un nou pastor in biserica, care este si profesor de muzica,
        a terminat la Emanuel Oradea;
        se pare ca a schimbat fata bisericii;
        se ocupa si de corul tinerilor si de corul mixt,
        multumim Domnului , vedem ca mai exista “oameni din cei 7000.
        Speram sa nu l inghita majoritatea,
        este un barbat ferm, care ne a anuntat ca nu va face niciun compromis,
        daca este nevoit va da un pas inapoi.
        Numai pastorii si fratii adevarat interesati intr o schimbare reala,
        vor putea face ceva, pentru ca situatia s a degradat foarte mult;
        obligindu ne sa “stam muti, fara glas, ascultind cintaretii platii sa laude
        pe Domnul;
        orice gura trebuie sa o faca, mai ales cei care de duc la Adunare pentru inchinare,
        nu la spectacole muzicale.

  17. I see you don’t like Jesus Culture. Except some songs, I agree with you.
    Most of JC songs are irksome.

    Try Bethel Live. They’re from the same Church with JC but in my opinion they have the best worship lyrics in the last 10 years.
    For example: Forgiven http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34Tvwff3Ku0

    other songs of Bethel Live: For the Sake of the World, You Have Won Me, This is Amazing Grace, Our Father, Freedom, To Our God, etc.

    God bless you !

    • Welcome here and God bless you too!

      I used to like JC… they had some good songs in their early days (See His Love) but the last few albums have serious lyrical issues.

      Thx for stopping by.

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