Four questions for assessing whether a song, book, etc. should be used in ministry

“Over the years at Watermark we have examined countless songs for clarity, from ‘Away in a Manger’ to ‘Reckless Love.’ We constantly ask ourselves questions like, ‘Is it accurate to describe God’s love as ‘overwhelming, never-ending, and reckless?’” - TGC

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Jay's picture

This is a very, very helpful article.  I'll be passing it along to others - thanks for the link!

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

....but I'd add one thing; does the song help God's Word resonate with God's people in its genre/etc..?   There are some genre that work well in some languages, cultural/ethnic/racial contexts, and the like that simply do not work in others.  Going outside of church music, there is a reason opera is at its most amazing in Italian--it has to do with verb conjugations and noun declensions filling the rhyme and meter.  The "offbeat" nature of klezmer (including some delightful renditions of the Psalms) mirrors how words are stressed in Hebrew and (to a lesser extent) Yiddish.  Take it to a language with inconsistent stress--say Japanese or English--and it is going to be much harder to make "work" poetically.  

One might suggest, along these lines, that there are certain songs for which a plausible theological case can be made--e.g. "Reckless Love"--where the setting simply does not work.  You can even have it with no "royalty issues", no questions of whose bad ministry you're helping, etc..  It just doesn't communicate the Word of God to the People of God in a meaningful way in that context.  

And on the light side, when I saw "Reckless love", for some reason the song "Muskrat Love" came to mind.  Thankfully the voice on the former is not Tennille!  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.