A New reformation in worship music

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created.” Psalm 148:1-5 

Music is a precious gift from God and of God as part of His created order in the universe. In the beginning, “When the morning stars sang together, all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Job 38:7

The universe sings, galaxies sing, planets sing, our Earth sings, all creation sings.  We as created human beings are privileged and honored to participate in creation of music to glorify God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit within the confines of this physical realm.

Music has always been an important part of my life since the age of six when I began singing in choir and landing the highly esteemed role of Pinocchio in my first grade musical.  My passion for music continued grow throughout my school career in musical theater, choir, and first chair clarinet in middle school. I love to sing.  

After giving my life to the Lord in 2001, my hearts desire to sing Christian music, rather than secular music, began to blossom and grow.  I truly appreciate all types of music, styles, and different artists. Music evokes emotion and can flood your mind of melodies that bring joy, sorrow, peace, comfort, anger, remorse, encouragement, motivation, complaint, victory, and other feelings we were created to experience. 

In fact, reading the definition of emotion should cause us to stop and consider the meaning as we continue through this article.

Emotion – a feeling, passion, reaction, response.  any strong agitation of the feelings actuated by experiencing love, hate, fear, etc., and usually accompanied by certain physiological changes, as increased heartbeat or respiration, and often overt manifestation, as crying or shaking. or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.  

Distinguished from reasoning or knowledge?  Meaning, set apart from reasoning and knowledge.  Are we to worship the Lord by setting apart all reasoning and knowledge only to gain an emotional fuzzy gooey feeling of God’s warm tender love? 

“For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding.” Psalm 47:7

Being called to serve in worship music ministry over the last 10 years, for several churches, and in most recent years as a traveling guest worship leader, has provided an interesting and growing perspective on the current state of what we call “worship”.  This can of worms is about to explode, and it’s sure to make some of you squirm with an uncomfortable feeling as we face the reality of our culture’s version of Christian music.  

Unexpectedly over the last year,  the Christian music that I once loved, chose for a Sunday setlist, and led vocally in over 300 church services began to sound foreign, confusing, like clanging cymbals, with lyrics that started my head spinning in bewilderment, as I began to question the repetitiveness, empty phrases, metaphors, romantic-type linguistics, and trans-like euphoric state that is somehow supposed to help us reach the next level of intimacy with God.  

Let’s begin with Good Good Father, originally written by Housefires and covered by Chris Tomlin.  Rated as one of my least favorite worship songs, not only because of the mindless repetition and mantra that haunts my short term memory all day, but because this song slightly turns down the road of romanticizing a relationship with God and focuses heavily on a human perspective of a Holy Almighty Creator.  I choose this song to address first because the the lyrics aren’t in your face heresy, but heavy on fluffy empty words, and especially light on sound doctrine. 

Let’s ask a serious question.  Have you ever heard a “tender whisper of love in the dead of night” from God?  Have you heard a “thousand stories of what people think God is like?” The songs begins with thousands of possibilities of what God is like and is summed up by hearing a tender whisper of love in the dead of night? How do we know where this whisper is coming from? 

Many other religions summon and count on such things to happen for revelation or get gain a warm fuzzy feeling in their gut.  

However, we have God’s holy infallible Word, Holy Spirit-breathed and preserved over thousands of years.  We do not need to depend on a “whisper of love in the dead of night” to hear from the Lord.  His Word is authority.  Why should we consider a thousand stories of what people think God is like, when we have the Holy Scripture to depend on.

Why are we singing about trying to figure out who God is in this song?  Not to mention the mindless repetition that focuses primarily on who I am.  Before we move on, I have to address on more line in this terrible, terrible song.  “You are perfect in all of Your ways, to us.” Including “to us” at the end of this phrase is limiting who God is to our finite perception.  This song is used as “worship” all across the world in church services, utterly empty of sound doctrine and theology, and yet, because Chris Tomlin made it popular, there’s nothing to see here folks. 

This is only the beginning of what the Holy Spirit revealed after extensive hours of research, prayer, and determination to uncover the truth of modern Christian music. 

I asked the Lord, “How could I have fallen into this deception unaware?” I spend time in God’s word daily, in prayer, and test all things in research for truth in the age of deceit in which we live. 

After undergoing a series of major spiritual and physical battles, including battling colon cancer in 2011, I fell into a dry period and was searching for something “more” in my walk with Christ.  Something that would cause me to feel the presence of God, to feel the connection with the Holy Spirit, to experience a spiritual encounter, to feel the atmosphere change and set my soul on fire, to awaken my spirit to the next level – all to gain a deeper knowledge and experience with God.  

A dangerous prayer. 

As a worship leader, the responsibility in front line battle was not something I took lightly, and felt compelled to bring only the best worship music on a Sunday morning before the Lord and His people.  So naturally, I sought the help of the Top 100 PraiseCharts songs and stayed mostly in the Top 25 to be “relevant”, meaning a good amount of Bethel music, IHOP, Hillsong, Jesus Culture, Vertical Church, Gateway and Elevation Worship.  A pastor with good intentions, and who knew what I was going through, gave me a Graham Cooke “Prophetic Soaking” CD along with the suggestion to check out the teachings of Bethel superstar Todd White. 

A few women prophesied over me, only further encouraging my focus and desire on experiencing God in a whole “new way” through the anointed music, prophetic soaking and contemplative prayer.  One teacher suggested lighting a candle, diffusing essential oils, and entering His presence in quiet and be filled with “more” of His Spirit, like a dry sponge absorbing more and more of the Holy Spirit.  What? 

Red alert! 

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. 2 Corinthians 5:5 

How much of His Holy Spirit do we receive when we are baptized and born again? A full measure. We have everything for life and godliness. In Christ, we have been given every spiritual blessing. 

So then, why are we asking for more, with hearts of discontentment in our worship “experience”? 

The flesh wants more.  The Spirit is content.  The flesh wants to be satisfied, wants an experience, desires a sign and wonder, seeks good feelings. The Holy Spirit convicts and pierces the heart unto repentance. 

One morning, after an intense spiritual battle, I went into my prayer closet, put on some “anointed” worship music, and stood sobbing, singing, and begging God to give me some sort of sign, something tangible, something I could feel and experience.  Nothing.  

Proceeding into the shower singing and crying with my beloved Bethel playlist, something strange happened. A feeling like scales fell off my eyes and ears at the same time.  I dried my hands, paused the music, the sobbing ceased, and I began to look around the bathroom as if a predator were lurking in the shadows, defensive, alert, confused, and an overwhelming sense of being on guard.  At that moment, the Lord gave me a Bible verse in my spirit and everything began to come into focus.  

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 

2 Timothy 4:3-4

Talk about an awakening of Biblical proportions. I sat on the end of my bed and for reasons unknown to me, typed “Bethel exposed” in the YouTube search bar. For hours, I watched some of the most horrifying videos about Bethel’s New Age mystical theology, doctrine, School of Supernatural Ministry for young adults, Sozo prayer, and heretical teachings coming from leadership.  Of course, this led to more research on the theology of Hillsong, Jesus Culture, IHOP, and straight down the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) rabbit hole exposing many of our favorite artists and groups. More on the NAR later. 


Let’s consider this profound question and begin a real conversation on this most difficult, extremely sensitive, controversial and muddy topic. The intention of this article is not to bring division, but knowledge and discernment of the truth.  The greatest gift you can give someone is the truth. After immersing myself in research, I cannot unlearn what the Lord has revealed to me and what He has put on my heart to share. 

Consider these two questions. 

Does theology and doctrine really matter in the Christian songs we sing? 

Is it important to consider who composes Christian song lyrics and music, and what theology and doctrine in which they believe?

The resounding answer if yes, of course it matters, and the remnant body of Christ should be paying very close attention to the rapid decline in Christian music as it transforms into something very misleading, dangerous.

I’m afraid brothers and sisters that the rabbit hole is indeed deep with many twists and turns making it especially difficult to navigate.  Yet, no one really wants to talk about it. We are commanded not to conform to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. To influence the world as ambassadors for Christ.  Instead, we have allowed the world to influence the church, and in many churches it’s hard to tell the difference. 

Much of the “worship music” played and performed in most American churches is theologically dead, doctrinally bankrupt, romanticized, some downright heretical, and many songs are written with the intent to evoke a highly emotional and euphoric state in the congregation.  After all, isn’t church all about feeling all warm and fuzzy feeding our internal hunger for some type of experience or encounter with God? 

Let us not forget, throughout all of human history, music and sound vibration have been used across every culture for rituals to summon the gods, through the use of repetitive words, chants, beats and tones. This fact alone should cause us to pause and take a deeper look at what Christian music has become. 

Is there a difference between Christian music, worship music, and true Biblical worship, and can these terms be synonymous and interchangeable? 


Let’s start with a defining the terms.  Wikipedia provides the following definition of Christian music, and considering the source, the accuracy is on point, however I added emphasis by underlining certain key words. Don’t miss this or allow your eyes to glaze over the definition.  It speaks volumes. 

The Christian music industry is a small part of the larger music industry, that focuses on traditional Gospel music, Southern gospel, contemporary Christian music, and alternative Christian music. It is sometimes called the gospel music industry, although this designation is not a limitation on the musical styles represented.

Christian artists generally use secular styles, pairing them with lyrics that display faith and spirituality to varying degrees. Generally speaking, the industry is influenced by mainstream culture. Musical trends, for instance, follow those of the secular scene, though usually a few years behind. The Christian music industry carries the distinction of being the only music subculture whose content is labeled by its lyrical dimension rather than its music. Still, music within the industry is sold by its musical style rather than lyrical content.

Christian music’s critics point to the divergent interests of commercialization and ministry, which have, according to some, polar opposite goals. Aspects of Christian music have long struggled to gain general acceptance, even within the Christian community. What some see as secularization and a lacking of direct theology, others see as artistic ministry. This opens up questions of the definition of “Christian music” that have lingered over the industry since its inception. 


Is all music labeled “Christian” really Christian at all? What makes it a “Christian” song?

Is there a difference between worship songs and Christian music? 

Let’s face it, the American church is big business, and has its sights focused on catering to the younger generation though experiential music that creates an emotional response.  Just as the Wikipedia article exposes, the Christian music industry takes secular type songs and repackages it to Christians with positive, inspirational messages.  However, there is way more to it than a simple repackaging with warm and cozy, feel good lyrics. 

Our favorite Christian radio station states its mantra after every three songs, “Positive, Encouraging, KLOVE”.  As long as we are tuned into our favorite Christian radio station, everything should fine, and our precious ears are safe from all the worldly influence, right? Not so fast.  

Not everything we consider as Christ-centered music is of God, and we are called to test all things: 

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1

The Bible, our ultimate and supreme authority, the infallible, inspired, inherent Word of God is very clear on the definition of worship.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Col 3:16

Songs teach us, and are easy to memorize.  In the Classical Model of education used in our homeschooling, we use song to help us learn and memorize Bible verses, history, science facts, timeline, and even math facts.  Songs easily become stuck in your head, and play over and over in your mind being planted deep in your long term memory.  

I think it’s worth considering what type of music we are allowing to dwell and take root inside of our spirit. Be careful of the lyrics and the words that are being planted into your subconscious. Bring it before the Lord and ask Him for wisdom, understanding and discernment.  God is faithful to answer that prayer and will lead you to the truth. 

The Christian music industry appears to be focused on catering to how the average Christian likes to worship their God.  Some churches begin their countdown and introduction time with secular music.  What would be the reason for this? To help the “seekers” feel more comfortable in church, then pull the bait and switch when the real church music starts? 

God does not deceive people into accepting Him – not through music, not through experience, not through trickery, and definitely not through secular music played in church. If it sounds like the world, looks like the world, acts like the world, then it must be…Christian music. 

Since the renaissance of the Christian music industry, have we experienced a mass revival through the tactic of using “relevant” music to reach the culture? 

No.  Quite the opposite. 

However, there has been a mass revival of biblical proportions, and music is their number one strategy. 

A New Reformation in Christian Music

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther risked everything when he printed his 95 Thesis, a thoughtful document that questioned, not accused, the Catholic Church of certain doctrinal and theological truths.  He challenged the church leaders to identify and consider possible false doctrine, and his Nobel efforts resulted in the greatest reformation of all time, and acted as a catalyst for a future of religious freedom.  

Over 500 years later, we stand at the precipice of a new reformation that promises to fundamentally change church as we know it today, and  unfortunately, the effects will be greater than the 16th century Protestant Reformation, however it is hidden under the guise of the Emergent Church and Modern Christianity.  

The movement that is sweeping across and infiltrating churches worldwide is called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), teaching a false hyper-grace, kingdom now gospel with the belief of restoring modern day apostles and prophets to the church. This movement is otherwise known as Latter Rain, Dominion Theology, Joel’s Army, Manifest Sons of God and the Third Wave. 

Wikipedia defines this movement as “The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a movement which seeks to establish a fifth branch within Christendom, distinct from Catholicism, Protestantism, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Eastern Orthodoxy.”

The NAR movement formed by the late C. Peter Wagner, teaches the seven mountain mandate with the belief that, in order for Christ to return, we the church must take control of the seven major spheres of influence in society. The seven mountains we as Christians are to take control of are: education, religion, family, business, government, entertainment and media.  We see this teaching thrive in churches like IHOP, Bethel, Hillsong, and Elevation as well the prosperity and word of faith teachers like Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, Kenneth Copeland, Rick Joyner, Paula White, Todd White, Randy Clark, and many more.  

The rabbit hole is constructed of many tunnels, with roots deep in the occult, yet, many Christians are unaware of this New Age movement, the extreme gnostic and mystical teachings, the source of experiential worship, and are unlikely to realize they are part of a church aligning with this movement. 

Granted some of the music is OK, but because of the popularity of their money generating albums, they use the music as a hook to their theology.  Do we not consider the importance and implications of not knowing where this music comes from and what false doctrine the artists may hold?

In 2013, a solid group of reformed theologians such as John MacArthur, RC Sproul, and Steve Lawson hosted a Grace to You Truth Matters conference entitled “Strange Fire”, dedicated to exposing these false doctrines. 


There are also many awake brothers and sisters who have dedicated an abundance of research and blog writing to this topic, and links are provided below.  



Unknowingly, I nearly fell off the NAR cliff into the chaotic experiential abyss of this movement through none other than the mainstream worship music we all know and love and sing along with on the radio.  

Even after discovering the truth about the songwriters and labels of some of my favorite worship songs, I selfishly continued to use them in church services, shrugging off the fact that they may be not be completely correct on theology, but rationalizing the fact that the congregation loves them.  After all, they would think I had gone off the deep end if we converted to singing only Psalms and Hymns in church.  Admittedly, pleasing man rather than God. I share this because I believe there are many worship leaders today who feel the same way, but are frightened to come face to face with this reality. 

David Barret, author of World Christian Encyclopedia dubs The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) as the “largest religious movement you never heard of…”continuing “Not only is the New Apostolic Re-formation the largest of the four non-Catholic megablocks, but significantly, it is the only one of all five megablocks that is growing faster than Islam.”

Time to wake up church.  This false teaching has affected and influenced over 66 million people and is the fastest growing “Christian” movement worldwide, and Christian music is their strategy to infiltrate the church with subtle false teaching. The shared doctrine of worship in the NAR, relies heavily on the new age worship of “His Presence”, right in tune with Sara Young’s #1 best selling heretical devotional “Jesus Calling”.  

But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” 

1 Thessalonians 5:21

“Now these [Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

Acts 17:11

From the garden, Satan’s strategy is to create a believable counterfeit that can pass for truth while the wool is gently pulled over your eyes.  Just as Paul warns us in Galatians 5, a little leaven ruins the whole batch of dough.

“You were running so well. Who has obstructed you from obeying the truth? Such persuasion does not come from the One who calls you. A little leaven works through the whole batch of dough. I am confident in the Lord, that you will take no other view.” Galatians 5:7-8

Strategically, there is always some biblical truth mixed with the fallacy. Just because there is some biblical truth, doesn’t mean that we should not carefully examine the lyrics and author before we commit to bringing the song before our congregation, or including on our playlist.  It is more important than ever that we seek truth like the Bereans in Acts 17, and distinguish the teaching we hear, read, sing, and watch from the infallible Word of God.

Experiential Worship + False Signs and Wonders

This is self-gratifying pseudo-worship that only comes from within. It is designed to be an experience that meets MY needs, grants MY desires, and gives ME good feelings on MY own timetable and according to MY own agenda.

Pirate Christian Radio has documented over 50 personal stories of people who have left NAR movement. Meanie writes, “There was so much supernatural stuff happening, people claiming to be healed, gemstones appearing on the floor, feathers floating from the ceiling, pink clouds, mist and smells such as lemon floating through the air. I wasn’t sure what was making this all happen, but it was mesmerizing.” Read her story here: http://piratechristian.squarespace.com/berean-examiner/2017/5/-leaving-the-nar-church-melanies-story]  

However, experience is a lousy test for truth according to the Bible and this is especially so if we are in the last days. 

The Bible says spiritual deception will actually increase in the last days. When asked about the end times Jesus said, “Take heed that no one deceives you… many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” (Matt. 24:4, 11). 

Paul indicates that the end times will be characterized by “deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). He echoed this same thought elsewhere when he said that “the coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception…” (2 Thess. 2:9,10). 

John writes about a beast in the last days who “performs great signs” and “deceives those who dwell on the earth” with great miracles (Rev. 13:13,14). Jesus had this to say about sign-seekers: “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign” (Mt. 16:4). 

Why? Because people can be easily deceived by them.

3 Megachurches Leading the Deception – Bethel, Hillsong, & Elevation 

“There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” Peter 2:1 

Bethel Church

If you have not yet researched the origins, history, growth, and mission of Bethel in Redding, CA, here is just a snapshot.  Bethel was founded in 1952 founded as an Assemblies of God church, withdrawing their affiliation in 2005 to become an independent entity under the direction and teaching of Bill Johnson and has grown into a megachurch with more than 10,000 congregants, owns one of the largest Christian music labels, and opened the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry with over two thousand students in 64 countries.  Here, young college age adults, learn occult practices such as grave soaking where students lie on a grave to soak up the deceased’s anointing such as prophet Smith Wigglesworth.  The popular Christian band Jesus Culture was born out of the Bethel beginning the mass movement of freedom in worship with laughing, speaking in tongues, involuntary violent shaking, jerking, rocking back and forth, jumping up and down, crawling and losing self-control becoming “drunk in the Spirit” and other altered states of consciousness. 

During Bethel services, they routinely experience supernatural phenomena such as falling gold dust, angel feathers, and glory clouds and encourage children to enter into meditation to see angels, engage in contemplative Sozo prayer, and perform miracles.  Jenn Johnson, worship leader at Bethel describes the Holy Spirit as the little blue genie from Aladdin always sneaking around and granting our wishes.  

Bill Johnson’s books include, “Hosting the Presence”, “When Heaven Invades Earth”, and “The Physics of Heaven” to name a few horrifying titles. 

There is so much more about Bethel to uncover, and I encourage you to do your own research.  All this considered, why are we welcoming their music in our worship services?


Brian Houston, lead pastor of Hillsong was founded in 1983 as a Charismania megachurch in Australia, effectively sweeping across the globe and like Bethel, has become a multibillion global empire through their music. Affiliated with the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God, it is one of the world’s fastest-growing churches with over 100,000 congregants across the globe and likely in a city near you. They preach a LGBTQ friendly gospel, encourages Chrislam and the property gospel, and are notably famous for the naked cowboy incident.  Brian Houston’s book titles include “You Need More Money”, “There is More”, and “How to Maximize Your Life” to name a few.  This short paragraph only scratches the surface of the true identity of Hillsong Church.  Be a Berean and do your own research. 

Elevation Church 

Steven Furtick, another narcissistic rock star prosperity gospel preaching, Word of Faith heretic and lead pastor of Elevation Church in North Carolina,  teaches another gospel, but ranks third in line of producing our most popular Christian music on PraiseCharts.  Founded in 2006, Elevation Church is one of the fastest growing “movements” with 17 locations across the US.  Elevation Church sneaks into your Sunday worship service through the music receiving billions of dollars in royalties. Unfortunately, other Christian bands have jumped on the Elevation heresy train on tour such as Vertical Church Band, Kari Jobe, and Lauren Daigle to name a few. John MacArthur has one word to describe Steven Furtick, “unqualified”.  So, why are we using music coming from this false ministry in our church services? Take a listen to some of his messages, such as the teaching that Jesus was not sinless. 

Funding False Teaching through Christian Music Royalties

Why does any of this information matter and what are we supposed to do with the knowledge?  Shrug it off like I did for so many years, or pay attention to little bit of leaven that quickly leavens the whole lump? 

I challenge you to consider the most evidence based reason not to use these music labels in your church.  Through the use of SongSelect and CCLI, your church is contributing to the payment of billions of dollars royalties paid to Bethel, Hillsong and Elevation to fund their heretical ministries so that they can continue spreading a false gospel, lure you into experiential worship, false doctrine, New Age mysticism, and straight down the path into darkness. It is not legalistic to consider the music we should be singing in church, or even in our own private time.  It’s not legalistic to decide not to play Bethel, Hillsong, and Elevation “worship” music.  

We are called to avoid even the appearance of evil, to expose the works of darkness, to recognize that the Evil one comes with lying signs and wonders, and that false teachers should be exposed.  Many of these Christian artists are represented by signs and symbols relating to the occult.  How do we reconcile this as it relates to music we choose to sing and listen to? 

I’m not saying that worship music is all heresy and we should throw out the baby with the bathwater. On the contrary, there are theologically sound hymns and songs full of the truth of God’s word that we should consider as a comparison.  However, the fleshly self-seeking search for an emotionally driven spiritual high, supernatural encounter with the presence of God, a heightened worship experience with a goal of changing the atmosphere through repetitive mantras, empty phrases, and ethereal sounds is what these megachurches are baiting, most non-denominational churches large and small are biting, and the Christian music billion dollar industry is selling. The lyrics are sensual in nature, romanticizing God and empty of sound doctrine. 

I reminisce on the day when we used hymnals and the author’s name was an afterthought buried deep in the fine print, not worshipped like Elvis. 

Music is powerful.  Music is a gift from God and of God.  Just like in the garden, the enemy has twisted something beautiful into a fleshly self serving desire by using just enough truth to deceive.  Its time we take this to the Lord in prayer.