Is Keith Getty Right?: Who’s Deciding On The Music You Use In Worship?


Keith-Kristyn-Getty-1Keith Getty resides in Ireland, but from September to June, he works in America. America was the most obvious strategic place to come, since he believed that so much of the church’s leadership around the world is still orchestrated in America. 


The Gettys started their unique American ministry in 2000. They indicate that they came to America to “write the hymns and be stewards of the hymns.”  

They believe that today’s worship music is decidedly directed by “Wall Street.” The deciding force in what music makes it into the local churches’ worship services across America, and beyond, are the companies listed on Wall Street, not main street.

Keith Getty is a clear and persuasive voice in the fog of the CCM debate, a debate that continues to take place among and in today’s church. If you would like to listen to him, make the argument, here is the link.

However, other substantial factors may play into the decision as to what worship looks like in the local church. I would suggest that at least two other factors have a prominent impact . . . .

√ ministry compartmentalization, and
√ theological education.

Ministry Compartmentalization:  There is a tendency for pastors to see themselves as the “one leg of the stool.”  Their job is to step up at the appropriate time to fulfill the preach-teaching role.  The “commercials”[1] & musical components are the task of others. 

The music leader (paid staff or lay song service conductor ) selects the congregational music, who and when others sing or perform, and the “genre” mix — or not. That is his or her lane. The pastor stays in his lane, indicating to the song leader what the thematic road is, and now and again, swerving a little into the other lane. The “informed or uninformed taste or opinion” of the music leader guides the selection. What that music leader values and enjoys is what shows up on Sunday morning with marginal pastoral input. Whether the music has serious pastoral endorsement, or ministers to the people, is not as important as what he/she values and enjoys.

The pastor is “happy to accommodate” with such an arrangement. There are far fewer decisions that have to be made by him and less mental distractions before he takes the stage.  However, without meaningful and genuine “like-mindedness,” the road can become fairly bumpy for both pastors and people.  The separate lanes can lead to a crash when members or pastors see the church moving in a different and unwanted direction.  It is usually the “music man’s car” which is most crumbled in a crash.

Theological Education:  The theological education of a good number of pastors is lacking or meaningfully absent. [2]  Whether it be mis-educated, inadequately educated, and even uneducated pastors, they become complicit.  Some — maybe far too many — pastors lack the theological background and/or have musically educated themselves by reading and/or listening to men like Keith Getty — and yes — those of other persuasions.

In 2020 ! — a seminary education is seemingly less valued as necessary than it was in the past. [2] There was a time when such an education was unavailable, or financially non-pursuable, and it was understandably acceptable. Today, when it is available and financially feasible, a weak or absent theological education is not rightfully deemed as unacceptable.  

What we see today is . . . . 

  • full online degrees
  • fewer classes / “semester hours”
  • shortened programs
  • credit for life-ministry experience
  • little personal exposure to some of the best and finest seminary professors
  • a loss of interaction with others going into ministry
  • the discipline of semester deadlines
  • fewer seminaries and decreasing enrollment
  • stranger seminaries
  • a business degree seen as qualifying for pastoral ministry
  • fast and easy ordination or ministerial licensing — or neither
  • churches with short and/or shallow statements of faith
  • less emphasis on holiness and sanctification
  • etc.

Why would we expect otherwise? 

Why would we or should we expect a discerning, discriminating, and/or judicious understanding of church music to be part and parcel of many ministries.  I say that not to argue for a position, though I have one.  But to make the point that leaders of local church ministries may disagree, but they should be able to learnedly and thoroughly “argue” their position — theologically and musically.  “It is a matter of taste or personal opinion” — does not qualify as that, nor is it persuasive!

Is Keith Getty Right?
Is it Wall Street, Not Main Street Who Is Making The Decisions?

Yes! . . . But! 
Not without the permission of many others in local church ministries!


1. The varied elements which keep God’s people informed as to what is happening in this-or-that ministry.  It includes the verbal announcements, the video clips, reports on what is happening in this-or-that ministry, birth/death/sickness items for prayer, etc. 


Is Seminary Really Necessary?

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