Churches of Christ with instrumental worship have been returned to listings in a national directory of the religious group after being left out for more than three years.
A national directory of Churches of Christ in the United States omitted 21 churches from in its 2009 edition because they used instrumental music in at least one Sunday morning service.Â That directory publisher, Nashville-based 21st Century Christian, has reinstated the churches that use instrumental music to the 2012 directory. This change was made along with a change in how the directory defines a Church of Christ.
The the decision returns The Hills Church of Christ in North Richland Hills, one of the nation’s largest Churches of Christ, to the directory’s pages.
Churches that continue to identify as part of the Church of Christ religious group and whose music is historically a capella will be included in the future directories whether worship services include instruments, according to the publisher’s website.
Dr. Douglas Foster, professor of church history and the director of the Center for Restoration Studies, acknowledges this as a positive revision to the directory. He said, a church might not want to remain identified with its heritage, but churches should not be dropped because someone else makes the decision.
“It recognizes the desires of congregations whose history and identity are clearly in the Churches of Christ, but who have chosen for the sake of outreach and evangelism to include services that use instruments,” Foster said.
Congregations that differ from the typical Churches of Christ have always been included in the denomination, he said.
Even though ACU is recognized as a Church of Christ university, students are given the opportunity to worship in a variety of ways on campus. This including the small group Chapel, Immersion, which features instrumental music.
Samuel Skeirik, communication graduate student from Knoxville, Tenn., appreciates diversity in worship.
“Different people learn best through different means: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, logically. I feel like it’s the same with worship,” Skeirik said. “We all want to draw close to the Lord, but He developed us to draw near to Him in different ways. One may be moved by a solidly constructed sermon, whereas another may find God in the dance of worship or the singing of song.”
But in most worship settings at ACU, the music will continue to be a cappella.
“I think the university will continue to honor the heritage of a cappella singing [in major worship assemblies], not because it is the only legitimate form of Christian worship, but because it is a wonderful tradition that encourages all to participate and that lends itself to allowing us to truly ‘sing to and encourage one another,'” Foster said.