What if I’m singing and someone else is playing an instrument?

Why can’t someone who believes it is wrong to worship using a musical instrument sing when there is a musical instrument playing? The person singing is not playing the musical instrument.The person singing is singing.

This is the song book I grew up with.

“It would be a bad example. It would look like you approve of the musical instrument. The music doesn’t stop halfway across the room. Everyone in the congregation is worshiping with the musical instrument.” What if a man prayed incorrectly during the worship service? Were you a bad example if you worshiped with that congregation? What if a man worshipped alongside a woman with a head covering on when he did not believe in women wearing a head covering in worship? Or worse, what if a man worshiped alongside a woman who was not wearing a head covering, when he believed she should be wearing a head covering (as about 5% of members in the non-institutional churches of Christ believe–I Corinthians 11)? What if you worshiped alongside a teenager wearing a mini skirt to church? Wouldn’t it look like you approved of her mini skirt? Wouldn’t you be a bad example? What if you were on vacation and worshiped at a Church of Christ that had some odd beliefs, beliefs that your church back home did not have? (This has happened to almost everyone at least once in the Churches of Christ.) Were you being a bad example by worshiping with them?

The apostle Paul said in Romans 14 that one person esteems one day above another (Sunday), and one person views all days the same. Obviously one person is wrong in this case, they can’t both be right. Yet the apostle Paul said not to worry about it. Let the two worship in peace. So we could have someone worship by singing while someone else worships by playing a musical instrument. One of them could be wrong (as in Romans 14) and we could accept one another. In fact we are commanded to accept one another.

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About Mark

I was raised in the conservative non-institutional churches of Christ and attended Florida College in Tampa, Florida. I served as a minister for 8 years in the non-institutional churches of Christ, and 4 years at a mainline church of Christ in Vermont.
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3 Responses to What if I’m singing and someone else is playing an instrument?

  1. reyjacobs says:

    “What if you were on vacation and worshiped at a Church of Christ that had some odd beliefs, beliefs that your church back home did not have? (This has happened to almost everyone at least once in the Churches of Christ.) Were you being a bad example by worshiping with them?”

    I think in many congregations if they found out about it, you’d have to make a confession.

    “The apostle Paul said in Romans 14 that one person esteems one day above another (Sunday), and one person views all days the same.”

    If I extend your logic (or Paul’s) to its ultimate conclusion, I would find that Paul himself didn’t practice what he preached. We find, after all, in 1st Corinthians 11 that some brethren want to have an agape meal and Paul tells them they can’t “when you come together, it is not to eat a lordly supper” but must rather eat Paul’s symbolic meal of a pinch of bread and a swig of grape juice. But Jude was in favor of larger agape meals! (Jude 1:12) Now, why couldn’t those brethren who esteemed agape feasts have their agape feast and those who esteemed the Eucharist have the Eucharist? Yet Paul bans the agape feast “if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home!” and legislates only the Eucharist may be observed (despite that another apostle favors the agape feast!!!!). How uncharitable of Paul.

  2. garycummings says:

    Paul does not ban the agape meal in favor of the eucharist. It is the way, the agape meal was done. Some people ate it like a buffet at Shoneys, while others got drunk. Some people got sparse pickings and they missed out on a glass of wine thanks to gluttons in the church. That is what Paul was against -gluttony and abuse of the other brothers and sisters.

  3. Darla Kearce says:

    Perhaps you will be interested in a couple of my experiences. I am learning more about the CoC after moving to TN from FL; people here still identify themselves to us as a “Campbellite.” We specialize in communicating the gospel to children. I was firmly reprimanded by an elder that it was wrong to picture Jesus smiling because it is not mentioned in the NT. Can we imagine the person of Jesus of Nazareth stone-faced as he greeted and embraced children as in Mat. 18? Also, we were booked by a forward thinking person to do live puppet program Sunday AM at a TX CoC. Our song tracks have instruments. There arose dissension among congregants. Some believed that because we were under a different roof than the sanctuary building it was okay. Others said that the covered walkway connected the two structures and it was not okay. Ultimately, they put us in another building and transported children to us. One CoC mother commented that she was on a puppet team as a youth, but “our puppets sang a capella of course.” What happened? What could have been an outreach event to kids who do not go to church – who do not know Jesus – turned into an inward focused conflict. So sad. I pray that strict, overt adherence to NT “authority” is not a covert devotion to Christian elitism.

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