Worship: music, lyrics and theology

A chorus on a Sunday morning is sometimes more memorable than the sermon.

Test the theology of your worship songs!

It is well known among teachers, scholars and leaders that in Christian gatherings deception gets 'sung' before it becomes part of a group’s doctrine, and then mission. So it is worthwhile to really scrutinise the words and themes of the songs we sing.

Why is this so important? Apart from the above statement, Sunday morning can be a time where our guards are down, from the weight of the previous weeks work; the challenges and demands of one sort or another. A congregation may therefore very easily and submissively sing through a worship set without really engaging the ‘doctrine' part of their brains.

Lyrics become doctrine and then mission

Church culture can sometimes display some alarming examples of poor or wrong doctrine, and at best patchy thinking. What we must remember is this: songs and hymns can sometimes be the only or even the primary source of Bible knowledge for some (especially those with special needs). For others it compliments private study, however in both of these cases ‘steering’ always occurs. This is why it is essential that songs and lyrics underpin, compliment or add to a person’s good doctrine and not confuse or corrupt it. So doctrinal accuracy really does matter!

In Spirit and Truth

Many song-writers make great efforts to ensure that their songs are theologically accurate. This can be efficiently done by referencing Bible translations, or chatting with Bible scholars, theologians or whoever really understands the meta themes of the Bible text. The Bible asks us to stay close to people with a proven relationship with the Holy Spirit. Spirit and Truth must be in place together and not just one or the other!


So to end, work in ‘spirit and truth’ to check your relastipnship with the Holy Spirit and test that with teh Bible. Try to understand hermeneutics (how we interpret the Bible). Worship leading comes with great responsibility, and it is the same as teaching in its gravity before God.

To avoid division and deception the safest music lyrics should focus on what is called milk doctrines. In essence creedal (summary of agreed orthodox truths) and psalmic (the psalms, or relating to the Psalms or based on themes from the psalms). While this list is vital it is not exhaustive. 

Some great topics for a worship song:

Centrality of Christ

Sacrifice of Christ

Majesty and power of the Creator

Intimacy of the Holy Spirit

Faith in Christ

Healing of Christ



Judgement of God

Millennial regin of Christ

The Eternal State with God (Our future hope)

Freedom from all kinds of oppression

Destruction of evil

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