August 27, 2008

Ask Anything Wednesday: Christian Musicians in False Churches

Welcome to Ask Anything Wednesday. This month I am answering another great question. Please keep them rolling in! Just submit your question--on anything!--in the comments section below and I'll consider responding to it in our monthly feature.

"Is it ok if Christian Music Artists perform at the churches of false teachers?"

To arrive at a biblical and wise answer to this question, additional questions must be asked first. Three questions to help think through an answer are:

1) How severe is the false teaching of this church?
2) In what context will I be performing?
3) What is the purpose of my performance?

Let us briefly look at these questions in order.

First, how severe is the false teaching of this church? While all doctrinal error is bad and harmful, there are degrees of falsehood. Christians may disagree over many issues, but some truths are so foundational to our faith that they cannot be rejected without denying Christianity itself. If a false teacher and his or her congregation spurns our Triune God, the God-man Jesus Christ, or His gospel, then they are not a true church at all.

Second, in what context will I be performing? If it is in a worship service of a false church, then the Christian artist needs to decline. A follower of Christ must never participate in idol worship. However, if the performance is simply a concert that is taking place in the building of a false church, then this could be acceptable.

Third, what is the purpose of my performance? Is it to worship God? Is it to evangelize? Or is it to glorify God through playing creative and beautiful music? Again, leading corporate worship with a false church is not an option. At the same time, singing about God and His redemption through Jesus Christ may be a means through which God saves people. But two conditions should be met in this case: 1) I must be upfront about my intentions with the church's leadership. While this would likely end any opportunity to perform in a false church, it is the only way to remain above reproach. 2) I must be clear enough in my proclamation of God's truth that those attending understand their need to repent and turn to Christ. Of course, I do not believe that Christian musicians always need to perform as a ministry. In this situation, it would be best to refrain from singing in any church building so as not to confuse people with my intentions.

Answering questions like these should help a Christian artist wisely assess where it is appropriate to perform.