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Metal Ministry

Helen Thorne | 15 Feb 2013

It's good to have a variety of musical styles on a Sunday. Wesley wrote some great hymns - so do Sovereign Grace - to name but two stables that I love to go to for songs that inspire my mind and encourage my heart.

But while there is much more diversity in church music than there was 40 years ago, most congregations still work within relatively mainstream musical styles. Most but not all.

A recent article caught my eye. There's a church in London where the music is soley heavy metal - spiritual edification through Thrash (complete with an animal skull adorning the church venue).

There are certainly concerns that could be raised about the way that church operates. The lack of expositional Bible teaching strikes me as a worry at the very least. And one would hope that every mature Christian would be willing to acknowledge the need for a sacrificial attitude when it comes to personal preferences on musical matters rather than seeking to gather with like-minded people alone. But its existence does raise some interesting questions...

There are groups of people who have felt disenfranchised from other churches they have attended in the past. They have felt looked down upon simply because of the music they love, the clothes they wear and the clubs they frequent. They may have had a genuine faith or a genuine interest in the gospel but found their local congregation unwelcoming in some way. So it's worth pondering:

  • Is the music in our church a hindrance or a help to those who want to find out about Jesus?
  • Would we help the lost more by singing less?
  • How far should our engagement with different musical styles go? We don't want to compromise on doctrine and, of course, we want people to be able to sing the songs with relative ease but other than that, is the sky the limit?
  • Is there a cultural dress code in our local congregation? Whilst modesty and propriety are good, having a church 'look' can risk giving the impression we're more like a country club than an open community where all are welcome.

And most importantly,

  • Have we really grasped the fact that God looks on the heart not the outward appearance of people? And calls us to hold similar views as well?

I think it's unlikely that heavy metal will ever become the norm in most churches. But it's vital that, if someone from the heavy metal scene enters our church, they should feel loved, accepted and able to engage with the gospel that will both liberate, transform and fulfil them to the glory of God. Food for thought ...

Tim Wilson

12:56 PM GMT on February 19th
You're totally right. The church music we consider as 'Unthinkable' are other people's favourites.

On a less extreme level, it seems to me that evangelical churches tend to use solely the classical and the Coldplay singer-songwriter alternative styles, when in many areas RnB and dance reign supreme. Food for thought...

Helen Thorne

Helen Thorne is Director of Training and Resources at Biblical Counselling UK. She formerly worked with the London City Mission and has written Hope in an Anxious World, Purity Is Possible, Walking with Domestic Abuse Sufferers and 5 Things to Pray for Your City. She attends Dundonald Church in Raynes Park, London.