Worship is meant to be God-centered. The Father seeks worshippers who worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Spiritual worship is according to the design of the Holy Spirit, who always shines the spotlight on Jesus Christ. He, in turn, being called the truth, glorifies the Father by being the exact representation of His Being. Worship “in Spirit and in truth” is therefore Trinitarian and Christ-centered. Moreover, God’s glory is most visible in His grace, and the pinnacle of God’s grace is the cross. So, true and Spiritual worship is God-centered, Trinitarian, Christ-exalting, and very often focused on the work of Christ on the cross.

Our worship style can best be described as contemporary. We embrace what we consider to be a spiritually healthy mixture of modern worship songs and timeless classic hymns.

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. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:16-17

We understand that listening to or singing a song in church does not endorse everything someone believes. We look at the lyrics and confirm they are trustworthy and Biblical before the church sings them. The songs we sing cannot be entirely separated from the church, ministry, or leaders they come from.  We must practice discernment and cultivate the ability to test everything we hear by the Word of God (Acts 17:11).

We are not saying that a pastor, artists, or producers are unbelievers or have wrong intent with the music they produce. Still, we must realize that there is more baggage that comes along with it. Church leaders must train and disciple the saints to be discerning. Throughout the Bible, there are warnings about false teachers. For that reason alone, we should take our responsibility seriously and watch out for them.

It is our conviction that we will not lead the church in singing songs by Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, Hillsong Music, Elevation Worship, and others because of several concerns.

Theology & Doctrine
Leaders in these churches are a part of the Word of Faith movement. Word of Faith teachers combines a variety of unbiblical ideas. Because each teacher is independent, they might teach things differently but share the same foundational errors. Some of these false ideas include, but are not limited to, the following:
– Faith is a force, and words are the containers for that force.
– Being made in God’s image means we share in His divine nature.
– Salvation brings health and wealth as the right of all believers.
– God speaks to Word of Faith leaders directly.
We should acknowledge that every Word of Faith teacher also says some true things. It would be unwise, however, to look the other way when lies mix with truth. To make their claims coherent, these teachers must twist Scripture, distort its obvious meaning, and go beyond what God has said to fanciful ideas about the spiritual realm.

Bethel Church is associated with the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement. Bill Johnson teaches that humans can speak things into existence by faith or even command God to speak them into existence. According to Johnson, physical healing was purchased in the atonement of Christ, and God’s will is always to heal.
The Pulpit & Pen website outlines several of Bill Johnson’s false teachings, including Kenosis, Osteenism, Retanism, Kenyonism, and Montanism.
Hillsong Church is part of Australian Christian Churches (the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God). It believes in speaking in tongues and that the supernatural sign gifts of the first century are still in operation today. As an Assemblies of God church, Hillsong does not believe in the believer’s eternal security, which relates to the doctrine of salvation. The Protestant Standard website has an article that is worth reading.
Elevation Church is part of the Association of Related Churches (ARC), a church-planting organization with a broad statement of faith that intentionally excludes some reformed doctrines. Steven Furtick (Elevation Church) holds views that align with Modalism’s heresy, denying the Trinity’s distinct persons. He teaches that “God broke his own law” and infers Modalism, a belief that God changes forms (or modes) between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. On the GodWords website, the writer cites the false teachings of Steven Furtick.

When we sing or listen to songs, we often associate them with the artists or ministries behind them. Suppose a song is connected to a church or movement with questionable theology. In that case, it can inadvertently lead people to explore other teachings from that source. Attending concerts or events by certain worship groups can expose individuals to more than just music. These gatherings often include preaching, teaching, and ministry moments, which can shape people’s beliefs. For example, people may want to know more about Bethel’s “supernatural school of ministry” because of their excellent music. It’s essential to consider the impact on believers who might be led astray by poor theology.

Financial Support
Many worship music groups release albums and sell merchandise. When you buy their music, you directly support their ministry financially. Streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube pay royalties to artists based on the number of streams. By streaming worship songs, you contribute to the financial well-being of the artists and their ministries. Attending worship concerts or events supports the artists and their ministries and contributes to their financial sustainability.

Churches pay for CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International) licenses, allowing them to use and perform copyrighted worship songs during services legally. These licenses ensure that songwriters and artists receive fair compensation. The artists and producers obtain royalties each time music is used in rehearsal, congregation worship, and live streams. Your financial support reflects your endorsement of the group’s theology and mission. It’s essential to consider where you invest your resources prayerfully.

As believers, we have a responsibility to exercise discernment. We should evaluate the lyrics and the overall context, theology, and impact of the music we engage with. It is essential to weigh the potential influence of worship music beyond its immediate lyrics. We don’t need to agree with someone on every point of doctrine to buy or listen to their music. Still, we must examine the ramifications when theological issues arise, especially when we use that music in congregational worship. Discerning believers must seek truth and grace in their worship. We don’t need to be paranoid, but we do need to be vigilant. May everything we put before Jesus’s church ensure that “we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph. 4:14).

Contact Michael Stocklin