Overseers Adam Diehl & Jon Paul Robles

In a word – no. I do not think a worship song can be TOO theological.

However – I DO believe a song can be so theological that it is completely unclear and vague — when not in balance. Or to be put more simply, a worship song can be more theological for its own good (if placed incorrectly). Remember – I believe leading worship is leading people through an experience with God – a journey. If you go on a theological journey with no regard for the congregation, you may have worshiped but you have not led.

For example, what on earth does it mean to raise our Ebenezer to God? The verse in the Hymn, Come Thou Fount reads, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come.” It’s deeply theological but for most of us its entirely useless — information without knowledge usually is. If you don’t know what ‘raising your Ebenezer’ means – then you probably shouldn’t keep singing it. And more pertinent for leaders — if your congregation doesn’t know what it means, you shouldn’t be leading them through it. (By the way, this explains it).

Another example is the modern song from Misty Edwards, Relent. The first portion of this song is a quotation from the end of Song of Solomon: “I’ll set You as a seal upon my heart; As a seal upon my arm.” It goes on with further quotation from the book. Talk about theological! I’ve heard argument on who is the speaker at this passage. And is the passage speaking of the church and Christ or solely a man and a woman? This is intensely theological, and for most of our churches, it would also be a useless lyric (if we don’t know what we’re singing). Furthermore – your church/pastor might not agree with its’ interpretation!

The point I’m trying to make is that “theologically thick and accurate” will not always yield a good worship song (however a good worship song will always be theologically thick and accurate). A good worship song will help your congregation worship God. This is impossible if its over their heads and they “know not what they do.”


Adjust it. Changing scripture is a no-no. But worship songs are not scripture (even hymns!). If adjusting a word or phrase of a song will help people worship, do it! (I strongly urge you to talk to your pastor first!). Gateway Worship decided to replace the original “Ebenezer” verse of Come Thou Fount with a completely new lyric about how Christ has “came and rescued me.”

Teach It. Sometimes a theological idea or word can be taught during a worship set between songs, enabling the next song to be understood. Other times it needs to come from the pastor during his message (especially if it will take a long time to explain). Misty Edwards wrote her song, Relent at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. If you’ve ever been there, you know that they have a strong emphasis on studying Song of Solomon. The preachers speak about it frequently. It’s a big deal to her group. When she leads this song with her group – they get it. Her group knows that her lyric comes from Song of Solomon, Chapter 8; and they all know exactly what that passage means to them. It’s great there – but it’s probably not going to be great in your church unless your congregation has a united theological understanding of Song of Solomon.

The Bottom Line: This is not a cookie cutter situation. Some songs are “too theological” to be clear in different situations, and in different groups. The bottom line is that I think we need to pay attention to what we’re singing and who we’re leading. What do you think?

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