MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BNC) — The Stones River Church of Christ began an instrumental service, along with its a cappella service, March 29, according to the local newspaper DailyNewsJournal.

It joins a number of congregations who embrace evangelical doctrine and reject the principle of specificity in Bible teaching.

From the newspaper report, it appears Stones River considers itself part of a denomination, includes women to lead worship, confuses Old Testament practices with New Testament faith, and emphasizes social outreach over preaching the gospel.

“So some would say it is not authorized, so you can’t do it,” [minister Tony] Woodall said. “But I say if it is so important, would God have said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t play instruments in worship!”

While proponents like Stones River often speak of honoring both traditions and seeking to maintain peace, they are aware that such actions offend convictions of brethren.

“… when you add something like instrumental music or women in leadership then you are no longer a true church and therefore should not be viewed as such,” Joshua Dement, gospel preacher working with the Newton Street congregation in Paragould, Ark., wrote about the Stones River decision.

“Knowing grace and love of God so you can worship however you feel like God is leading you to worship — that matters,” Woodall was quoted as saying.

Photo was submitted to the DailyJournalNews. WVBS puts forth the case for singing in worship.



  1. Very sad to see this happen. Couldn’t help but notice the word “feel” in Woodalls comment. Well, we can pray for this poor group of people.

    1. Musical instruments were definitely used in worship in the Old Testament (1 Chronicles 15:16; 16:42; 23:5; 2 Chronicles 7:6; 23:13; 29:26-27; 30:21; 34:12; Nehemiah 12:36; Isaiah 38:20; Amos 6:5; Habakkuk 3:19; see also the introductions to Psalm 4:1; 6:1; 54:1; 55:1; 61:1; 67:1; 76:1). The fact that the New Testament nowhere condemns musical instruments indicates that the Old Testament practice was continued in the New Testament church. The early church was comprised almost entirely of Jews. It is highly likely that they continued using musical instruments in the church, just as they did in Old Testament worship.

      So, even without an explicit New Testament reference, it is clear the church can use musical instruments in its worship. However, there is a clear New Testament reference to musical instruments. Ephesians 5:19 declares, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” The phrase “making melody” comes from the Greek word “psallontes” which means “to rub or touch,” “to twitch or twang.” It was commonly used in Greek to refer to playing a stringed musical instrument. Whatever the case, the Bible neither forbids or commands the use of musical instruments in church. Therefore, the church has freedom to use them if it feels led of God to do so.

      1. God commanded that instruments be used in O.T. times. He specified what instruments were to be played~ harp, cimbel and lyre. He specified that that only Levites could play them. He specified that they had to be played all day every day at the temple. He specified that the Levites be supported by the “{church”. All this God commanded be done. (1) If he was so specific in the O.T., did he forget in the N.T.? (2) If we have instruments, we must follow the commands on how it is to be carried out. Seen any Levites lately?

        1. How do people miss this? I always fine it heart rending when I hear people say things that are not even mentioned, or at worst twist things from OT to NT to justify their actions.

          I use OT for references only, NOT what I live my life by. Call me a NT purist, or legalist or whatever you want but I find it better and easier and less confusing to stick with NT teachings. Granted the OT has the same spiritual value but not where I turn to live my life by and be pleasing to our Lord Jesus Christ.

        2. This is a great response! I was not even aware that only Levites could play the specified instruments!

      2. You write the fact that no where does the N T condemn instruments means the N T church used them. NO it does not. IF you read church history, there are about 700 years before instruments were used again. YOU MUST explain why the people who read Greek (members of the first century congregations) STOPPED using instruments and did not use them for 700 years. Their practice makes it clear that they understood the Greek text and did not use them. Again, do not take my word for it, look at church history. NOT there.

        By the way instruments were COMMANDED in the Old Testament, not just added because they like them. See 2 Chronicles 29:25

      3. and what we are commanded to touch is the instrument of the heart; but you wouldn’t understand that, would you?
        The Bible does not say “you cannot murder” does it?
        Hell is filling up fast, so sad….

      4. Interesting argument? Will you be introducing animal sacrifices next? Nice to know what psallo means. I guess there is another turn of phrase to change the meaning of “speaking to one another?” The logic of Old Testament acts of worship creeping into the New Testament worship is without Scriptural foundation. David sang and danced in the nude when the Ark was brought to Jerusalem. Will this act of worship also be added? This practice might increase attendance and participation as well (just a guess).

      5. Instrumental music was never used in the New Testament church in its inchoate stage or for centuries. Instrumental worship wasn’t in the synagogues where the centrality of reading the Scriptures and prayer were the norm. Instruments were used around the Temple, but not during the time when the High Priest went into the Most Holy Place. Lyres, cymbals, trumpets–these were used on the walls and outer court area to announce events. Singers performed in choral fashion–singing antiphonally according to Ezra and Nehemiah. Instruments were introduced into the church in the 5th century over great objection and debate. The organ was first put in an adjoining building; then it finally got into the sanctuary. When the Great Schism of the 11th century occurred between East and West, the division was not just about the filoque clause of the Nicene Creed, but about the form of baptism and instrumental music. The traditional Orthodox Church still has a capella music. When there was no one in the New Testament assembly to interpret “tongues”, the tongue speaker was to keep silent lest he be making noise like a pipe (reed instrument), which sounds cannot edify. Sounds in the worship service must be understandable to the members of the Church. The Holy Spirit, via Paul, says we are to sing with the understanding and pray with the understanding since all things in worship must be for edification of the Body (while worshipping the Lord). Singing can edify because WORDS edify; sounds of instruments cannot edify. It is the words of the songs which edify the Body and PRAISE the Lord. Sounds without meaning may be pretty, but that is what instrumental sounds are.

      6. If we have no command to do something, we don’t have the authority to add to the word of God. The issue that we have today is, churches are using “freedom” to justify their false doctrine.

    1. Agree! And notice how well it turned out for Israel. Gaining membership at the sake of the Gospel is not a bargain I would want to make.

  2. We have been given a “pattern” to follow, referred to in the New Testament, inspired by God. As Christians, we must not add to or take away from His Word. As Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

  3. How sad to go against biblical teaching just to fit into today’s world, where will they fit into heaven? That is what and where my concerns would be, this world is not our eternal home, I sure would not want to risk my eternity!

  4. So very sad. According to their logic we could have corn bread and sweet milk at the Lord’s table this Sunday. GOD is their Judge but I don’t believe these people have a real love for God and His holy Word. If they did they would stand in awe of It. Ps. 119 :161

  5. This is the entitlement generation/decade who want things their way or the highway (but not always to heaven). A few years ago I wrote two books for denominational leaders~”Worship Changes Since the First Century” and “Worship the First-Century Way”. But now they are needed in the church itself. Having been written by a woman, it has approaches a little different from what we usually read, but always with the same result. Heaven help the church on its downward fall in America.

  6. It takes only one generation for apostasy. The justification stated indicated a total lack of experience in Biblical interpretation. Indeed, the entitlemment generation shows lack of training by parents and professors. It also refects on the lack of Biblical knowledge by their elders. So, let’s teach “while there is yet time.”

  7. This news is sad, but there will more and more just like it in the future. We have a new generation in the church, with older leaders who were never convinced of the truth. The word “feel” as noted by another who wrote, is a key word with all these who go beyond the teaching of Christ (2 John 9). When one goes beyond the teaching of Christ, he also goes out of Christ. Let those who love the truth stand and let their voice be heard.

    1. It makes me sad to think what the Church will be like in days to come. I pray that I am wrong but I can see things going farther and farther away from Bible teachings. Sad indeed.

  8. “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” Is it possible the congregation has been led astray by the preacher because they have not studied the Truth for themselves well enough to know the Truth?

  9. This is both sad and sinful, but when we have so many unconverted “church members” it’s no surprise to see the mess the Lord’s church is in. We need more sermons preached on the authority of the scriptures; how that authority is ascertained and what happens when we violate that authority. Sadly, we have too many preachers who “preach” what they know will please the people, instead of what the people need to hear. And such preaching leads to what we are now witnessing—a departure from Christ and his church.
    Marlin Kilpatrick

  10. If it was so important why didn’t God actually mention it?

    How about they had instruments they used in singing all throughout the Bible. Yet in the New Testament Church they didn’t have anything? No mention of instruments. Wasn’t like they didn’t have any around… it was chosen obviously to not have them.

  11. what is sad is more and more churches are doing this “mass appeal” change to their ways of teaching to bring in more people. Next step is baptizing however the person wants and so on. It is sad to see churches and people who know the Word of God and know what the Bible says about certain things and they ignore them to fulfill worldly desires.

  12. the day that instrumental music is introduced to our worship service will be the day that I will leave. In my understanding of Gods word it will cease to be Gods church.

  13. You know – congregations that are
    Doing things such as adding instruments and women leading
    In worship think ” I FEEL there is
    Nothing wrong with it – it is not that
    Big a deal !” Two thoughts – What
    If you are wrong – WOW – what a
    Huge gamble and #2 if it is not
    That big a deal WHY take such
    A chance? I pray they have time
    To repent and follow God’s will !
    Much better to be safe than sorry!

  14. At times it makes one wonder why so many churches in the buckle of the Bible Belt are going off to worship the way they “feel” is right instead of following Scripture. At the heart of it is the attitude expressed by the words, “We already handled that subject in the 60’s (or whenever), no need to preach or teach on it now.” This article makes me want to cry. I came out of denominationalism, and had questions about this. I learned that the instrument to be “plucked” is always mentioned. That instrument is the heart. I want to hang my own heart on the willows right now.

  15. We are told and taught to sing, One worshiping God, in Spirit and truth must do so making melody in their hearts unto the Lord. EVERY TIME WE WORSHIP we must identify the subject of our worship, the purpose of our worship, the method of 0ur Worship based on the Word, (Logos) John 1:1ff. and His, The Christ’s command. He only spoke and did what the father had commanded Him. We are commanded to not go beyond that word.
    Clarify in your minds MATTHEW 28:19ff. Make disciples…teaching them all I have commanded you and lo I am with you to the end of the age. Amidst the time of the disciples availability of instruments was well known. They were also well known and associated with pagan offerings of worship, ie. Idolatry. The instruction was to sing and make melody unto the Lord, “pluck your heart strings”. If with instruments than each one would need a instrument that was a stringed one”. Thus the art would be obsolete. Becareful, the wisdom of the world doesn’t sneak, back in and cause your worship to be in vaine and in acceptable! (I did not grow up in the Lord’s church, and livid the life of sin. When I did attend church we sang with an organ or piano and other instruments. The all were more a distraction than an aid. I am afraid for those who have gone astray back to the doctrine of men and of demones. Hebrews still says, ” The Wordd of God is sharper than any two edged sword dividing the bone and the marrow”. “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Not your feelings! Teh

  16. I look at your it like this is no instruments acceptable yes are only men leading worship acceptable yes so why risk it? It’s like walking on a bridge if you stay in the middle there is no way to fall off but if you start walking on the rail it’s easier to fall in the river. As for me and my house we will follow the Lord.

    1. I would encourage you to hear or read Dr Jack Lewis comments about this book and how many other groups, (11) as I recall do not use instruments. Interesting that often we see we read a book and then make a change at church services. Like we are finally so smart and so wise and that there is NO value in reading all those who have gone before us. REALLY there are NO new arguments on this issue, but we must bump our heads on the same rocks over and over because we will not study history.

  17. It’s so sad to read quotes like “you can worship whatever you feel like God is leading you to worship”. Worship is not to go where you feel, is to please God the way He stated in His Word, and The Word is pretty clear, you just need to study enough if it is unclear to you. But this is why is stated Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” and also we have to be aware of these type of leaders since Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” And then of course, many will believe they were doing things right but their way and the Lord will say, (Mt 7:21-23) Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Please dear brethren be aware! Study your Bibles everyday and don’t let anyones believes get into you, first study The Word and make sure is The Lord’s Will. God bless you all.

    1. But I don’t think we are completely guiltless. I remember when our entire worship service only had maybe four songs, occasionally five. But we have added more and more songs and crowded out more prayer, more Bible reading, and much more time on the Lord’s Supper.

  18. The Chrin the spirit in Christ and the Christian Church have discussed this question of instruments in worship for many years now there’s no need to add instruments to the worship in the Church of Christ when there are Christian churches in areas where those who wish and desire to worship with instruments are able to why not just go to the Christian Church why does this Minister need to see it important to add it to the Church of Christ many places the christian church uses the title church of Christ and they worship with instruments. If you are to worship with instruments the Lord would have told us with what kind as He did to the Hebrews in the Old festament. In steat he told us to sing in the Spirit with the fruit of our lips. Teh

    1. It could be that they “feel” like they are a denomination and not the Lord’s church so they can do what they “feel” like doing.

  19. The question is not what sounds better, or what I feel is correct to use.
    The real question is … What has God authorized! Jesus was questioned about His authority by. The Jewish leaders in Mt. 21:23-27. Jesus response was, “The baptism of John – where was it from? From Heaven or from men?” Jesus made it clear; authority comes from God or men.
    In New Testament worship; God has authorized (singing and making melody in your heart to The Lord) Singing is the Only music and the heart is the only instrument that is authorized in our worship today. Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16, 17 (Singing with grace in your hearts to The Lord.) Look at verse 17, whatever yo do in word (teaching) or deed (practice) do All in the name (authority) of The Lord Jesus!
    We as Christians are authorized to Sing, and the Only instrument authorized in the New Testament worship is the Heart. Remember, Jesus said that authority only comes from two sources, Heaven or men.
    God authorized Singing; men authorize everything else!!!!! …. Roy

  20. So sad to hear and read that brethren are departing from the truth and following the crowd. We need to pray for our brethren who are going astray.

  21. Pls remember, the millennialist movement involves individuals between the ages of 20 and 34, they are spiritual but not religious. They anchor to nothing and think the bible is too traditional when it comes to church doctrine; i.e., homosexuality, marriage/divorce/remarriange, same sex marriages. Therefore, in order to appease this group many congregations have “adapted” the service to fit “their” needs. Sad, but this is a big, big part of the equation.

    1. Sorry to read your comment about the younger generation being spiritual but not religious. Does this imply a failure of another generation of failing to follow the guidance of Deut. 6 or Eph. 6? Perhaps, it is failing to “live worthy of the calling” or to clothe one’s self in righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:23f)? We each own the failure on our own. We must return to Jesus, how He taught love and obedience (they really are inseparable – Jn. 14:15). We need to quit implying that the fruits of the Spirit are by osmosis, rather than the Spirit (the Word’s impact) shaping our new lives.

      1. You are right. Parents need to obey verses like Deut. 6:7, Eph. 6:4, and Prov. 22:6 as they raise their children, especially from birth to the time they go to school. Children today are more familiar with cell phones or tablets from age 2 or younger to occupy their time than they are the Bible. Then when they go to school the world will have their undivided attention for 7+ hours a day to drill into them the ways and thoughts of the world. If parents don’t start early in teaching, their children will most likely be lost or misguided like the ones in this story.

        1. Stop trying to use Deuteronomy as a “proof text”. Pulling one verse out of context to suit ones agenda, ESPECIALLY when dealing with OT texts in conjunction with NT, is irresponsible and ignorant. You do not claim to be Jewish, and I suspect that the following verse about binding things to your forehead you just put out of your mind in favor of your argument. This is abhorrent behavior for people who claim to treasure the text. Perhaps a study in context would be a better use of everyone’s time than ripping pieces of The Word apart and piecing them back together into “The Word of Us”.

  22. At the highpoint of the Roman Catholic Mass, only a capella music is allowed. The Roman Catholic Church introduced instruments into Christian worship 600 years after the Church was established. Nevertheless, in the most serious part of their worship, instruments are not allowed. In Temple Worship, instruments were silenced when the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place. It is Jesus who is the object of our worship, not people who are singled out for singing soloes or duets or whatever–or people who play instruments and are separated from the body. Egos drive the behavior of many people today. Those who are not knowledgeable in the texts of either Jewish or Christian scriptures lead many into error.

    Instruments cannot edify. I could play rock music on the piano and make it sound like a Bach fugue. However, it would still be secular music that cannot edify the body. Words edify. Paul makes clear in regulating worship of the Corinthian Church that all things must be done for edification of the body. While the Lord is being worshipped, the body is being edified.

  23. Churches of Christ: I love you and I despise you…. The use of an instrument is not a “salvation issue”. Meeting the modern generation where they are by using instruments in hopes of attracting more younger people to the love of God is NOT to be shunned. It is disgusting to me that the CofC has been so historically cerebral that “showing Jesus” has been the sacrifice made in favor of “knowledge” …and let me tell you, I’ve lived all over the country and the level of “knowledge” about the texts we hold sacred is pathetic. If I ever again hear someone use Philemon as a proof-text for evangelism I may scream! Or people who try to compare a single NT verse to some other verse in a different book, by a different author, written to different people. NO. Just NO.

    Churches of Christ are conceptually “right” on many things, but very flawed in others. Our churches need MORE heart, and LESS legalism. No wonder the numbers are decreasing… it takes a lot of intestinal fortitude for the younger folks to be able to stand some of the illogical disconnect between heart/love/compassion and permitted/right/authorized.

    By the way, I am 32. A wife and mother. Converted from Catholicism at 18. Married into a “legacy” CofC family connected to Harding University. My husband holds a doctorate and studies text in Greek. Our hearts love the Church of Christ (Yes, it is capitalized. Churches of Christ are, in fact,a yellow-pages identifiable denomnation.) …But never would we say other Christians are not true Christians. How dare we think that we have the right to judge another’s heart as God does. Lord, have mercy…