Pastoral Ministry

How Music Prepares the Environment for the Message

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Picture this scenario: A worship leader at a youth rally plays an energetic song. After the song ends, he attempts to share a serious message with the audience. The problem is that the students refuse to quiet down long enough to hear what he has to say. Why did this happen? How did this worship leader’s good intention to share a word from the Lord fail to impact the lives of these students? The truth is that he does not understand how music prepares the environment for the message. To put it another way, the students’ refusal to quiet down was because the music aroused their emotions, which generated an excited and loud audience unable to receive his message.

Many pastors, worship leaders, and congregations can relate to scenarios like this. In fact, these types of situations often seem to be self-inflicted. Some ministry leaders do not take time to think about how all the components of a worship service fit together.

Simply put, we need to do better at allowing the biblical text to drive both the sermon and the songs.

“Why?” you ask. Music sets the appropriate mood for the message and complements the preaching of God’s Word.

Here are two ways music contributes to the worship environment and correlates with the message.

1. Music prepares the hearts of those in the audience.

God designed music to generate emotional responses in people. The question we ought to ask is, “Based on the text, what emotions ought to be awakened?” A text like Ephesians 2:1–3 addresses the sinful nature of human beings. The content of this passage means the music we select should prepare the audience to feel the weight of their sin before we step into the pulpit. If we were preaching on Isaiah’s throne room experience from Isaiah 6:1–8, this requires singing that causes those in attendance to respond in wonder and awe of God. When properly executed, music can complement the message and better prepare the hearts of those gathered to hear from God’s Word.

2. Music is often more memorable than messages.

As preachers, this one might hurt our feelings.

People in the pews are more likely to sing worship songs throughout the week rather than repeat quotes from our sermons.

That is the nature of music when compared to rhetoric. This does not mean that our preaching is less important, but rather that songs have a different purpose in the forming God’s people. It does mean we need to think about how to incorporate the theology of our messages into our musical worship sets. In other words, music should be used to emphasize the doctrine or doctrines of the text. When music and the message are in unison, God’s people will leave loving and knowing him more fully.

Preachers and ministry leaders, we must make it a priority in our preparation time to collaborate with one another in the selection of music from the sermon text. The importance of collaboration among ministry leaders is imperative when it comes to music and the message. May we think more deeply and strategically about how the musical element of worship creates a text-driven environment that reinforces the theological principles proclaimed from God’s Word for the benefit of God’s people.

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  • Preaching Moment
  • Worship
  • Worship Leaders
Jeremy Bell

Jeremy Bell serves as the senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Holland, Texas. He is married to Katie, and father of Avery, Landon, Addilyn, Lincoln, and Levi. Jeremy is a three-time graduate of Southeastern (M.Div, ThM, and PhD). You can find more of Jeremy's thoughts over at

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