For a little over a year now, we've been opening our services with a secular or mainstream Christian song (that may even be found on pop radio). We've gotten a handful of questions about why we do this. We've been hit with the accusation of profaning the holy and taking away from the sanctity of a worship service. When discussion began around this topic, there were a lot of "hot sports opinions" on it. If I'm honest, I wrestled with it quite a bit myself. In the past, I had definitely found myself on the side of arguing that secular music had no place in the church. Much prayer and discussion went into making this decision. It was not something that was done simply for the sake of "being cool".
We are blessed with the privilege of being a church that has many "non-church" folk on the weekend. Each weekend, we have many visitors that are estranged from the church. There are those who have been burned by the church and/or simply have a bad taste in their mouths toward it for one reason or another and there are some who may have never even heard about Jesus.
That being said, we feel that Jesus was very clear in his instruction of the Great Commission. "Go." We are to "go" and tell the good news of Christ. We are to share the Truth that has been imparted to us. In the world and context in which we live, it is important to relate to people before you begin to share with them. The apostle Paul got that and we see him modeling that idea in Acts 17:22-34.
Paul is in Athens and he's talking to a group of Athenians and probably some other Greeks. These Greeks would have been intelligent. Some were philosophers, others may have been business men passing by. They all had one thing in common. They were not Christians. They were worshipers of either intellect, money, or the pagan gods like Zeus, Ares, and Athena. (particularly Athena...Athens...hello?) As Paul was walking through the Areopagus, he noticed the shrines built to the different gods and noticed the one "to the unknown god." He used that moment to tell them of God Almighty. In telling them he references two Greek poets, with these lines,
"In him we live and move and have our being."
"For we are indeed his offspring."
The writers of these poems would've been seen as Greek pagans. They worshiped false gods. They would not have been seen by the church as "wholesome people". Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that bands whose songs we cover are not wholesome people. Nor am I saying that they are evil pagans. I'm just giving an example.
Paul used the truth found in these to poets writings to point people to the truth of who God is. When we cover secular songs before our services, we are doing the same thing. We use songs that relay truth. We use the truth in those songs to help disarm the walls that people put up when they walk into the doors of the church. Today's music artists are in many ways our modern day poets. When we cover those songs, we are basically saying, "as your own poets have said".
We want to do anything and everything we can to help people feel comfortable as they walk into our party that we throw every week for our Savior. We want to show them truth that they may recognize and then show them where that truth truly originates from. We want them to meet guest of honor, Jesus. After that, we want them to use those same methods to tell their friends and family about this Great Savior.
So in a nutshell...that's why I believe doing secular songs in church is a good thing.Acts 17:22-34