The question of whether churches should sing songs from controversial sources is not new. Even famed 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon wrestled with it when compiling a hymnal for his congregation. Kenny Lamm explores Spurgeon’s perspective to glean insights for modern worship leaders.
When selecting hymns, Spurgeon prioritized songs that best suited his church’s needs and identity. He also wanted to include both proven hymns and the best new songs of the day. Lamm notes effective worship combines timeless and current elements.
Interestingly, Spurgeon didn’t reject songs based on the author’s character or doctrinal issues with their church. Rather, he evaluated each song on its own merits – if the lyrics aligned with sound doctrine, he included it. Lamm suggests Spurgeon would approve singing Hillsong and Bethel songs in church if the texts are biblically sound.
Of course, today’s celebrity culture complicates things – songs are closely tied to high-profile leaders and movements. Lamm acknowledges we can’t know exactly where Spurgeon would land on this issue had he come across it today.
Nonetheless, Spurgeon’s wisdom remains relevant. Worship leaders must actively and prayerfully assess all songs, old or new, on theological truth versus associations. Spurgeon’s approach provides a thought-provoking framework to navigate controversial music choices. Careful discernment enables our song selections to powerfully reflect our church’s identity and values.