10 Recommendations to Gospel Artists from a Loyal Fan and Concerned Pastor

I am a loyal Gospel Music fan. For years, I have joyfully collected Gospel CD recordings. More recently, I download music from iTunes. I rarely go anywhere without my iPod. Keys, wallets, cell phone, and iPod – don’t leave home without them!

I love Gospel Music. Praise and worship. Traditional. Contemporary. Old school. New school. You name it. I like it all. Even quartet music is starting to grow on me!

Ultimately, I love music. But I especially love Gospel Music. However, most of the Gospel Music on my iPod, I would absolutely freak out to hear performed in an actual worship service on Sunday morning. The music may sell a lot of records. But it is not music that is appropriate for public, corporate, Christian worship services.

Gospel artists, know that you have my full support. I love your work. Many of you are very gifted and talented. And I pray that God will use your ministries to his glory. However, as a pastor, I am concerned about how your work shapes Sunday mornings in many local congregations.

Concerning music in worship, Paul exhorts:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16, ESV)

Note three things about this verse: A variety of music is acceptable in Christian worship. Music used in worship ought to teach and warn the saints in all wisdom. Music in worship is to cause the word of Christ to dwell in the hearts and minds of the saints more fully.

Even though you are performing music as a part of the music industry; as a Christian, you are not exempt from these instructions. The Lord will hold you accountable for the music you perform in his name, just as he will hold me accountable for the sermons I preach in his name. So sing, play, and write to the glory of God!

Here are ten recommendations you should consider as you strive for spiritual excellence in your music ministry:

1. Write and sing songs that exalt the Godhead, rather than songs to and about the congregation or audience.

2. In many instances, simple is better. But be careful not to dumb down worship by only writing and performing simplistic songs. 7-11 songs – where you keep saying the same seven words eleven times – are not edifying. Write a text. Make a point. Give us something grand about Christ and the gospel to listen to, sing, and think about.

3. Please stop doing so much talking before, during, and after the songs. Just sing. And let the lyrics speak for themselves.

4. Take the time to have a pastor or Bible teacher review your lyrics, to help you think through the theological, doctrinal, and textual implications of your lyrics. (Hopefully, it can be your pastor. You do have a pastor, don’t you?) Word of Faith teachers do not count on theological grounds.

5. Be sensitive to the fact that your recordings influence many local churches, music departments, and worship services – for better or for worse.

6. You may cause us to miss your point about how good God is if you are simultaneous trying to show us how good you can sing.

7. Do not give “shout-outs” during the songs to your record company, producers, fellow musicians, band members, home town, or… you get the point. What’s that about?

8. You dishonor the entire worship service and set a bad example when a pastor invites you to sing and you do your “set” and then leave.

9. Stop speaking in tongues on your recordings. Many of your listeners do not speak in tongues. And many who do believe that tongues should have an interpreter. Carefully study 1 Corinthians 12-14. And think about what you are communicating in a recording of worship music.

10. Stop addressing cities in your music. “Praise him, Detroit.” Or, “Sing it with me, Houston.” You are not leading cities in worship. You are leading the congregation you are leading. Hopefully.

Here is one more recommendation for free:

11. Please remember that it is not about you!

What recommendations would you give to Gospel artists?

NOTE: This is a repost of a previously published article by HBC2

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • JHett Precious,Beloved

    Many points I understand,I just think we have to even in our correction be fluid with the Spirit of God that we also also are not discouraging! The greatest. 7-11 song was God is good and His mercies endure forever! The Lord inhabited that so much so the priests weren’t able to do their tasks! As a song writer,yes I invite everyone to explore outside of our “churchy” euphemisms and quit being lazy about our language and messages.
    Our negroe spiritual and Paul Lawrence Dunbar speak doesn’t speak now, so surely we can find some new ways and topics that people can hear! That hold the Gospel’s truth! We’ve let go of these and thous to make it understandable, I think that music has will do the same shifts! Mahalia and Thomas Dorsey weren’t accepted,Edwin Hawkins,Tramaine,! She was pulled on the carpet for “fall down” in the clubs,Edwin for o happy day on jukeboxes, bishop Hawkins for his hair! Clark sisters even with the correct lyrical values! Folk started wearing make up and the church had to recognize the work of God not the packaging! I get choo tho, in this climate of oversexualization, there has to be for all of us a closeness to The Lord that He can whoa nelly!
    JHett Precious,Beloved

  • Kenneth stavis

    I am a music minister from Connecticut and I applaud this article. I am having trouble right now as I write with choir members and praise team singers.

    Many are watching TV; radio; YouTube and other videos and want to sing what they are hearing and seeing. The debate is about what’s popular opposed to what is edifying to the church. I urge our staff to not ultimately sing for self and what I like and want but what God wants and then the Pastor who knows the direction that the congregation goes.

    I prepare for upcoming services by
    Listening, seeking God’s will ultimately wanting to edify the church. Many times I feel alone when I don’t all the time do what is popular especially after we have a rehearsal where staff have expressed their disdain over the selection. That feeling however goes away when God shows up in the service during the very song that I was told we shouldn’t be doing because it is not popular.

    I would like to hear your thoughts on this.

  • Jamie Brewer

    Write and sing songs a child could sing along with and enough with the rolls. I’d rather hear actual words.

  • Richard T. Hall

    Well spoken.

  • Tucker

    one recommendation…have the song have some type of Scriptural reference.

  • Wing

    I am in agreement. The sad trend is that you have church groups who try to emulate some of these groups. I’ve had to tell one of the groups in my church that they are not the Swann Silvertones or the Might Clouds of Joy. We don’t need you to introduce the song. Stand up, Sing up, Sit down. Thanks so much for expressing these thoughts.

  • http://twitter.com/CarlCollins9 Carl Collins

    This is ridiculous! He’s telling artists who, what, when, where and how to sing and produce their music. Get a grip dude and let people express themselves how they want! What’s next tell em what books to read and what people they can talk to! Let me worship and praise without rules and regulations. This is why a lot of people on the fence between the world and God stay on the world’s side because there’s always someone trying to preach about how they’re not doing something right. C’mon censorship is NEVER a good idea even in church!

  • Calvin

    Pastor Charles, this is a good and timely word!

  • Shamarr

    But all the Psalms arent about the GodHead are they? 

    • Truth

      I think that it is very important to note the purpose of psalms because they cover a very wide range of topics even though they are all about praise. They reflect the full range of human emotions but they are all directed to God

  • brien

    wow very very very good!!

  • Victor55a Williams

    I agree with you intirely HB. Each of your points, are right on point. As a gospel preacher and singer, I believe that the music used in a church service should be orchestrated to set the tone for the worship and glorifying of God. Then like a shovel it should lift and turn the soil of our hearts, to prepare us to recieve the word of God. It is also my oppinion that some of the music of today belongs stricly to concert. In the process of trying to please a new generation of young believers we as church leaders have allowed more of the world into the church, than taking the church into the world. As for me I want my church service to sound like I’m at church, and not out at the club.    

  • Bjgip

    I totally agree with you Pastor Charles.

  • Gospel Songwriter

    Very insightful and relevant. Thanks for sharing.  Too many artists have gone from ministering in song to being commercial. I teach gospel music songwriters that the Bible should back your lyrics. If not, then just state that you are writing an inspirational song. But any song that is written as a Gospel or Christian song, should have a biblical reference.

  • The Sports Photographer

    This was pretty good, but to me, JUST ME, your view is too traditional and doesn’t follow the cultural transition. I do have to agree with you, these are YOUR opinion.  One of the things I love about the bible is Jesus set a standard of relevant teaching. 

    1.  I agree with your first point.

    2. I disagree with you on this one. If you are a preacher of African American.. ( for the record, I am also) you know you have to repeat what you are saying the congregation in five of more different ways. Music is a ministry

    3. I agree with this one ONLY if the preacher don’t talk so much at the beginning , and at the end of the sermon, just preach and get to the point

    4. My questions is how are you going to put this to a beat YOU will purchase.. 

    5. Once again the preacher need to do the same, but if the leader isn’t why would the member who is a member would

    6. This must be why when christian leave church they say, man he hooped, and can’t tell you what the actual sermon was about.. 

    7. I agree with you, i believe the preacher should do the same.. I want to give a shout the Ushers, Audio dude, praise team.. I don’t understand why either

    8.  I agree the preacher stays in his office until it is time to preach, then comes out in the middle of song, preaches, when he finishes he goes back into his office.. 

    9. I wish preachers would stop that also.. Most of the congregation can’t understand speaking in tongue 

    10. I am the same, when a visiting preacher comes to town and talk about were he has been.. whats up with that…

    11. If preachers believe in this they would do more in their community and less behind the walls the community supports.. 

    After going through this , I realize the Gospel artist’s are imitating their pastors.. 

    I believe if the want to see change and growth, the head need to change and then the body will follow.. 

    At the end of the day I REALLY enjoyed your article 

    • Gospel Songwriter

      I may be wrong, but it sounds to me that you have an issue with preachers…lol.  Pastor Charles’ commentary was about the artists music as it relates to the Church. 

      Footnote: Contrary to your beliefs, many artists are NOT following their pastors’ lead. Many artists so want to “make it” in the industry, that they go against a lot of what they have been taught and the examples of good leadership. 

    • Truth

      I think the point is that we can get too caught up with ‘the cultural transition’ we know there are different styles and we all have our likes and dislikes but worship is about God, it’s about what He likes not us and I think that we very often forget this truth, when our worship of God gets sidelined by culture or tradition then something is wrong

  • Ministermatt2002

    Very Good Pastor!

  • Itaylor50

    Excellent!!!!