Music & Worship Policy
May 15, 2007
Grace Bible Church, Wappingers Falls, NY
This document contains the beliefs, thoughts and convictions of the Elders of
Grace Bible Church on the topic of music and worship and our church. We trust
that the reader will seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit as he reads and
deliberates on the material presented in this paper.
Except where God’s Word speaks definitively, we have come to this study with
an open mind to understand the principles of God’s Word that may apply and to
let the Holy Spirit guide us in our beliefs and decisions. We encourage the
congregation to keep that same open mind and to conduct their own search of
scriptures. Though we have our own our own likes and dislikes of various music
styles and our own thoughts regarding worship, the final criteria for all of our
beliefs and decisions is "What does God’s Word say about that?" Nothing
in this document should be contrary to God’s Word. However, there are many
decisions that must be made in a music ministry that the Scriptures do not
directly address. We believe that the guidelines given in Chapters Two and Three
will be an aid to those making decisions regarding appropriate music for Grace
Bible Church services, ministries and gatherings.
We recognize that there is a real problem that has developed in some churches
in that they have become overly focused on music styles and tastes often to the
neglect of true worship. We believe that the priority and primary focus is to be
on the worship of God and on what God expects from each believer in worship.
While music can be part of our worship, it is only a part of it and not the
focus of it.
The purpose of this policy paper is to bring unity to this church in this
sensitive area of music and worship. We also trust and pray that it will provide
direction and guidance to all of us as we seek God’s plan for Grace Bible Church
in the areas of music and worship.
MUSIC AND WORSHIP STUDY
Over the years there has been much discussion regarding music and its place
in worship. This has been true of churches in America in general and true of
Grace Bible Church in particular. While music has always played a part in the
worship of God, as evidenced by the Psalms, it has been since the 1960’s that it
has increasingly become a source of division within the church. This is largely
due to competing genres of music reflecting the styles that are popular within
the culture at large which is then aggravated by the selfishness of those in the
church who demand their particular style for the services. An additional element
that has been added in the last couple of decades is the importance of music as
a method of outreach within so called "seeker services." The emphasis is then
placed on playing styles popular to secular culture as a means to make
non-Christians more comfortable within a Christian worship service.
Over the years Grace Bible Church has had many people visit who have judged
our worship service solely by the style of our music. We have also experienced
contention and division in the past with individuals who insisted on having
their particular style and philosophy dominate the worship service. In dealing
with such contention it has been the desire of the Elders of Grace Bible Church
to set forth a broad policy regarding music and worship in order bring
understanding and unity within the congregation and dissuade those who would be
Much material has been gathered over the years. One particular resource was
the Music & Worship Policy developed by Waukesha Bible Church, Waukesha,
Wisconsin. They had developed their policy over the course of several years as
they considered the employment of a Minster of Music & Worship. Much of the
following policy has been taken from that document since it was carefully
crafted, well written and expressive of our own convictions.
CONGREGATIONAL WORSHIP SERVICES: MUSIC AND
Definition of Worship. We believe that individual worship is a
concentrated expression of an individual’s heart, soul, mind and body in
response to the revelation of the Triune God whereby we declare His worth.
Purpose of Corporate Worship: Corporate worship is the gathering of
Christians as a congregation for the purpose of worshiping God together.
Corporate worship should reflect the unity of the body of Christ as, "we are
all members of one body." While individual worship may be as diverse as the
personalities involved, corporate worship seeks a harmony and unity as we
respond with "one voice" in honor and praise of our creator.
Scriptural Guidelines Regarding Worship:
“¢ The singular audience in worship is the Lord Himself. (Revelation 5:11)
“¢ The One who glorifies Christ through us is the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians
“¢ The goal of all true worshipers is to glorify God. (Revelation 5:12-13)
“¢ Worship of God involves: (Mark 12:30)
1) Our passion because we love Him. (Praise)
2) Our minds because we want to know Him better. (Edification)
3) Our will because we want to obey Him more completely. (Obedience)
“¢ Worship should be a way of life for each Christian. (Romans 12:1-2)
“¢ God is a worship "seeker" and what He seeks are "true worshipers." (John
“¢ Music is a legitimate part of the worship of God and has Biblical
Job 38:7 – First record of a musical response to God & His work
Exodus 15:1 – First record of God’s people responding with music to God &
The Book of Psalms – Lyrics of songs sung in worship of God. Includes
notations on various musical instruments used in worship.
Congregational Worship Service
1. Purpose: To assist the believer to individually and corporately
worship God through praise, edification and obedience. We believe God is the
"seeker" of the true worshiper and that we enter into His presence in numerous
ways including prayer, music, testimonies, and Bible teaching.
2. Strategy: We do not believe that planning for the Congregational
Worship Service should be driven by strategies exclusively designed to make the
non-believer "comfortable." We believe it is appropriate to plan other occasions
that are "seeker sensitive." Those other occasions need not be construed as
"worship," in that the non-believer is incapable of worshiping the true God for
he does not know Him.
3. Evangelism: We believe that all preaching is inherently evangelistic
in that it is the presentation of the truth of God. We also recognize that on
occasion the Congregational Worship Service will be more focused on evangelism
in that the message will center on the good news of the claims of Jesus Christ
and His promise to save those who believe in Him from their sin, and
non-believers will be specifically challenged to place their trust in Christ.
4. Participants: All who participate in leading the congregation in
worship should know the Lord and be serving in the spirit, not the flesh. The
goal is worship and not performance. When someone draws attention to himself,
not God, he becomes a performer, and that is contrary to true worship. Our
prayer is that every believer in the congregation comes prepared to participate
in worship rather than to just observe. The participation of members and
non-members will be according to the GBC Ministry Involvement Policy.
5. Acceptable Elements: The leaders of Grace Bible Church believe that
there is more than one style of worship format acceptable in the Congregational
Worship. A worship format is simply how the basic elements of corporate worship
are organized to fit together. The basic elements of corporate worship may
include some or all of the following: Prelude, Call to Worship, Scripture
reading, Invitation, Audible prayer, Silent prayer, Offering (and offertory),
Postlude, Sermon, Ministry Reports, Praise, Thanksgiving, Quiet meditation,
Confession, Lord’s Table, Baptism, Choral Anthem, Special Music, Testimony,
Appropriate Announcements, Drama and possibly others. We believe that those who
plan morning worship must have the freedom to select and arrange these elements
as appropriate. The purpose is to enhance the teaching goals and basic themes of
the scriptures being presented. What is commonly construed as our "order of
worship" must remain flexible to accommodate the instruction and worship goals
as the Spirit leads.
About Drama; We believe that Jesus’ use of parables indicates that
the use of drama in edification is certainly acceptable and therefore a part
of worship. (A parable is a word picture that serves to bring understanding
concerning one main point). We would encourage the use of drama to introduce
or emphasize a major teaching in the corporate worship. We envision drama
utilizing minimal sets and costumes. The emphasis is on its use as a tool to
accentuate a major point of teaching. Caution must be exercised that it
neither draws attention away from the message, for it would then fail in its
purpose, nor to draw attention to the participants, for it would then become a
performance instead of worship.
About Dancing Dancing as part of the worship of God is found in
many places in the Scriptures (Exodus 15:20; 2 Samuel 6:14-16; Psalm 30:11;
149:3; 150:4; Ecclesiastes 3:4) and since there is no prohibition on it in the
New Testament we believe it can still be a legitimate part of worship today.
However, caution must be exercised since dancing can also be very worldly in
form and function. Dancing as part of worship may be allowed at Grace Bible
Church under the following parameters:
* It must have a godly focus and not be mere entertainment.
* It must be modest in dress, style, movements and choreography.
* The music used must meet the policy requirements of the church
* All dances are to be reviewed by the Senior Pastor or his delegate for
approval before it can be scheduled into any worship service. Dances in
other ministries must have prior approval by the leader of that ministry.
Final decisions are reserved to the Elders of the church.
* Spontaneous dancing will not be allowed in any worship service or
ministry of GBC.
About Dress. While style and manner of dress may vary with
the particular ministry and its setting, immodest dress is never acceptable
(see Modesty for Women and Modesty for Men guidelines). Our
purpose is to help people focus on God and any manner of dress that calls
attention to an individual distracts from that purpose. Therefore those that
participate in any ministry from the platform on any regular Sunday worship
service or any special congregational worship service must meet the following
* Clothing must be modest in appearance (as above). (1 Timothy 2:9).
* Appearance should be reflective of the reverence due God and therefore
neat, orderly, and well groomed and never sloppy, disheveled, or unkempt.
* Those with specific questions about the above should talk with their
ministry leader, an Elder, Deacon or Deaconess as appropriate.
* Beyond the general requirements, the particular requirements for any
specific ministry are to be determined by the leader of that ministry.
6. Music: We believe that a variety of music styles are acceptable in the
Congregational Worship Service. We also believe that all music should be in good
taste and quality and be honoring and glorifying to the Lord. It should reflect
the musician’s best effort to honor the Lord. Music within the church has a role
in the teaching and admonition within the congregation and giving thanks unto
God (Col. 3:16).
a. Instrumentation and Music
While some have a comfort level with only certain "traditional" instruments
such as the organ and piano as the principle instruments of worship music, we
find that the Scriptures allow and even encourage a wide variety of
instruments in public worship. All forms of musical instruments are acceptable
for worship services provided they are played appropriately to enhance
the message being presented. All manners of styles that overpower, confuse or
otherwise make it difficult to understand the message will be discouraged and
may be banned. Excessively loud sounds will not be tolerated since they are a
source of physical irritation and even hearing damage (greater than 90
decibels sustained, and greater than 103 decibel peaks – and yes, we do have a
We encourage the use of a wide variety of vocal and instrumental soloists
and groups under these guiding principles of quality, good taste and honoring
to the Lord in the ministries of assisting congregational singing,
presentation of music to glorify God and music to encourage and edify the
b. Types of Music Regularly Sung by the Congregation.
1) Traditional Hymns: These include hymns and compositions which
teach Biblical doctrine and theology such as; "Holy, Holy, Holy," and
"Christ the Lord is Risen Today," as well as hymns of traditional
European Protestantism by composers such as Bach, Charles Wesley, Martin
2) Popular 19th and 20th Century "Gospel Music." These are songs
associated with American Revivalism and are well loved by many. They include
composers such as: Ira Sankey, Fanny Crosby, and John W. Peterson and songs
such as "Faith is the Victory," "To God Be the Glory," and
"Surely Goodness and Mercy,"
3) Contemporary Praise and Worship Music: We strive to use many of
the scripturally and theologically true "Praise and Worship" songs. These
include songs such as "As the Deer," "Awesome God," "Lord, I Lift Your
Name On High," "God of Wonders" and "The Heart of Worship."
c. Types of Music We Could Use More Exposure to:
1) Selections from great Classical Choral Works such as Handel’s Messiah,
Faure’s Requiem, and Bach’s B Minor.
2) Anthems from a variety of time periods, including contemporary.
3) Seasonal Choral Works.
4) We wish to see our congregation become familiar with new songs that
communicate an accurate scriptural message.
We wish to see our congregation kept current with the best of the great
music being composed, whether it reflects a classical, popular or
contemporary style. This will require people who are musically talented who
can learn and present these works.
d. Tolerance of others’ tastes:
We acknowledge that there are a variety of tastes, likes and dislikes in
our congregation when it comes to worship and music styles. Music should be
a way of creating unity instead of a cause for division. We will teach and
seek to follow Paul’s admonition"in honor prefer one another" (Romans
12:10). Those who cause dissension and division over music are subject to
warning and correction, and even discipline should they continue to be
contentious and divisive (Romans 16:17,18; 1 Corinthians 1:10-11; Titus
3:10,11; Matthew 18:15-17).
7. Accountability: We believe the Congregational Worship Service is the
most visible indication of the people and nature of Grace Bible Church. For many
people this is their only exposure to GBC. We also believe it is the best
occasion for our corporate worship. It is our desire to give our best to honor
and glorify our wonderful Lord during every service. We expect the Senior Pastor
to oversee all aspects of the worship services. He may delegate some of this
authority and responsibility to others, but he is responsible to the Elders for
all that occurs during the worship services. This is not to rule out spontaneity
during the service, but it is meant to say that there should be few, if any,
surprises for the Senior Pastor. The decision of what is appropriate for
Congregational Worship Services belongs to the Senior Pastor with any final
decision reserved to the Elders of Grace Bible Church.
Music in Grace Bible Church Ministries
(Other than Congregational Worship Services – i.e., Sunday
1. All music should be in good taste, of appropriate quality, and never
dishonoring to the Lord regardless of the group to whom it is ministering or
the purpose of the ministry or event
2.The particular group being served and the intent of the ministry are key
factors in determining the appropriateness of the specific music selected. We
expect that the many varied ministries and age groups to which we minister
will reflect a wide variety of types and styles of music.
3.What is appropriate music for a Congregational Worship Service may not be
the best for other gatherings and ministry events.
4. What may be appropriate music for a particular gathering or ministry
event might not be at all appropriate for a Congregational Worship Service.
5. All meetings of groups at Grace Bible Church need not be formal worship
services. The music used in a particular group should be appropriate for that
6. Even though we discourage performance for performance sake in a worship
service, we realize that performance has a genuine purpose in a church and are
not discouraging all performance music at Grace Bible Church.
7. There are a variety of musical tastes within our congregation, therefore
each of us must on occasion have tolerance for a type of music that we may not
8. The music we listen to in the privacy of our cars or homes may be
perfectly acceptable to the Lord, but may not be appropriate when meeting with
others. (Romans 14)
9. There is music that claims to be "Christian" but is "Christian" only in
the secular, not Biblical sense of the word. Like other forms of heresy, it
may never be used in any ministry connected with Grace Bible Church and we
strongly advise it be avoided completely even for personal listening.
10. Psalms 150 suggests that all instruments can be acceptable in worship
including brass, strings, winds and percussion.
11. We believe that God raises up gifted composers and lyricists in all
12. The decision of what is appropriate is left to the ministry leader for
the particular meeting subject to immediate review by the Elder overseeing
that ministry with any final decision reserved to the Elders of Grace Bible
The flow chart below illustrates our beliefs on how music should be selected.
Variety of Worship and Music Styles
Based on Ministry Activity and Audience
The flow chart illustrates the decreasing restrictions placed on music and
worship styles as the sub-group of the church becomes smaller and more
specialized. We start with the Sunday AM Service in which the whole congregation
meets. This group will require the most restrictions as the music and worship
styles need to be within the acceptable range of vast majority of the people
present. As the group gets smaller, such as in other worship services in which a
smaller subset of the congregation gathers, the music and worship styles can be
broadened. Because it is the more mature believers that tend to come to these
meeting they can be appropriately challenged with styles that might stretch
their tolerance. Moving into small groups, the group can decide for itself the
acceptable range of music and worship styles. Evangelistic meetings will use
music styles to target their communication of the gospel to the people whom they
are striving to reach. Personal worship and privately listening to performance
music will vary according to the individual’s taste. It must be remembered
that what we or a sub-group of the church may like personally may not be
appropriate and even offensive to others within the larger congregation. We do
not force our personal tastes upon others and especially so if those tastes are
This assumes that all the music used at Grace Bible Church will meet the
established criteria on point 6 of the preceding page; "all music should be
in good taste, of good quality and honoring to the Lord, no matter what the
service (gathering) it is in, to whom it is ministering, or the purpose of the
ministry." Even in the largest groups there also does need to be a
certain amount of tolerance by all since on occasion we may be uncomfortable
with what is done while others are comfortable. No one can insist that everyone
like their particular musical tastes. In this we strive to show preference to
one another in both directions.
"In honor preferring one another." Romans 12:10
Sunday AM Service:
Music &Worship styles acceptable to almost everyone
Other Worship Services:
Music & Worship styles acceptable to some – but a stretch for
Music & Worship styles vary based on their purpose
Music styles targeted to communicate to target audience for
Performance (personal listening enjoyment)
Music & Worship Commitment
I have read the Grace Bible Church Music & Worship Policy and agree to
abide by it.
I have read the Scriptural Guidelines and the verses referenced in them. I
will strive to be obedient to them and follow their principles so that both my
personal and corporate worship of God will be true and acceptable to Him.
I understand that the purpose of all worship is to declare the worth of the
Lord God and bring Him glory, therefore its purpose and focus is on Him and
never on pleasing myself or those listening to me.
I understand that corporate worship is to reflect the unity of the body of
Christ in worship of God and therefore I will not let my personal taste in style
and content be detrimental to that unity.
I understand that participating in leading the congregation in worship must
be done in the spirit and not the flesh, therefore I will make sure that I have
a God honoring attitude before any performance whether a solo or part of a team.
If I cannot get my attitude right, I will humbly refrain from taking a part in
leading and instead remain with the congregation while still striving to repent
and regain a God honoring attitude. If I am in conflict with someone, I will
strive diligently to be at peace with them so far as it depends on me (Matthew
5:23,24; Romans 12:8). If I have not done that I will refrain from taking part
in leading until I do.
I will follow the policy guidelines concerning dress and grooming. If I
realize or it is pointed out to me that I am not properly prepared, I will
change and properly prepare or refrain from participating in leading in worship.
If I am playing a musical instrument, I will strive to use my performance to
enhance the message being presented and never overpower it, confuse it or
distract from it. I will follow the policy guideline and refrain from playing so
loudly that it becomes a physical irritation to others
If I am singing I will strive to sing in such a way as to clearly communicate
the lyrics of the song. I will further strive to make sure that the lyrics have
a clear and God honoring message.
If I am performing drama or dance, I will follow the guidelines of this
If I am part of a musical or worship team, ensemble or choir, I will humbly
follow the directions of the leader.
If I am leading a music or worship team of any type, I will strive to lead
with humility and grace, but I will also ensure that goal of true worship is
kept in focus and that this policy is followed by all members of that team or
group. I will further ensure that what is performed is appropriate to the
particular ministry activity.