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Preaching to the beat of music - Inspiration or distraction?

Published:Thursday | April 26, 2018 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston

 is the norm to see some preachers in the throes of their message and hear music in the background. Be it the drum, the keyboard or the loud strumming of the guitar, the words almost seem timed with the music. The ‘amens’ and ‘hallelujahs’ go up without some even paying attention to the message as they seem more caught up in the excitement of the music.

Considering that the message being preached is supposed to be food for the soul, it begs the question on how much is actually being consumed, with the music fighting for a piece of the action.

To gain insight into the issue, Family and Religion reached out to Darren McKoy, pastor of Church of God in Jamaica and author of the book Real Answers For Real People. He, a preacher himself, said that music in the background is never an enhancement to the word but more is of an enhancement to the environment that is being created by the local church.


“The Word of God in its purest sense does not need enhancement. If it did, then we could also say that God Himself needs some enhancing as the written Word is what also reflects the mind, heart, and attitude of God,” he pointed out.

It is for this reason, McKoy said, that if a preacher needs music to beef up what is being said, then the point of the word of God would have been missed.

McKoy makes no bones about the fact that music is not necessary to deliver the word unless it is part of an illustration that the preacher is trying to make.

“There is a reason why the Church has what is called praise and worship, or in some areas ‘singspiration’, because that is a part of the whole worship experience. The use of instruments does have its place in the overall worship experience, and so does the pure Word of God. There is, therefore, no need to fuse the two to make the Word more effective,” shared McKoy as he stressed that what makes the Word effective is the Spirit of God.

A very blunt McKoy said that this method of delivering the message doesn’t say much about the effectiveness of the Word, but what it shows is that many preachers are not really saying much. In an effort to get the crowd worked up and in a frenzy, they include music.

“Sad to say, but most of us preachers don’t take the time to accurately divide the word of truth, and just like our Jamaican artistes, many preachers tend to do a lot of ‘pull ups’ on the pulpit because they run out of things to say. That ought not to be the case,” is the observation from McKoy.

With some preachers excusing the use of music during the delivery of their message as a means of getting full participation from the audience, McKoy said that all it does is play on people’s emotions.

Marketing Strategy

Indicating that it is the Spirit that draws men to the Father, he said that too many pastors are trying to use music as a marketing strategy to pull people to come forward.

“Also, people are naturally drawn to music, so even if you don’t have much to say, once you fuse music into your delivery, you will get a crowd hanging on to every note but missing the word. If you ask the congregation, maybe more than 50 per cent can’t tell you what the pastor said but will tell you that the message ‘did sweet’,” said McKoy.

In defence of some pastors who use music in delivering the Word, McKoy said that not all use music as a distraction. For some, it’s their style.

“In all honesty, a lot of preachers cannot adequately deliver a message without music. Truth be told, most have even convinced their members that if the Word is not accompanied by the music, then the message was not ‘hot’. However, that is a wrong approach, but it is where the church has reached, to some extent. And a lot of this is fuelled by television and televangelists,” he said.

McKoy said that the Word of God definitely doesn’t need any help or enhancement. He said that the Church must not allow itself to be boxed into the world of entertainment or getting an emotional high.

“The Word must be able to stand on its own, and preachers must be able to preach and teach it so that lives can be transformed and not just for people to feel good.”