Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller offers these criteria that sound generally useful in evaluating music that may be used in church services. I just listened to an Issues, Etc. segment from August where they applied these criteria to the three most popular praise songs on the CCLI charts at the time. These were not just Christian pop songs, but songs actually written for and used in church services. This concept is a bit foreign to us, because we use our hymnary for almost all the sung music in church, with the occasional exception of sacred choir music. But I think the criteria Pastor Wolfmueller offers may prove helpful for evaluating the text of any song.
He notes that most of these praise songs used in worship are characteristically not didactic in nature. That is, they don’t teach anything. Instead, he calls them mystical in nature, meaning that it’s meant to induce an internal (emotive or psychic) experience of the presence of God, rather than about any objective act of God for us. Here are the criteria:
- Is Jesus mentioned? By name or concept?
- Is the song clear? Does it use sentences or sentence fragments?
- Is it objective or subjective? About what God has done or about what is happening inside me?
- Are law and gospel present and rightly divided?
- Is there any false teaching? (Or any teaching at all?)