Should the music used in missions be in the “heart language” of the people being evangelized? This parable presents an important test case for assessing this notion about music used in missions.
Discovery of a New Tribe
Researchers discover a new tribe of people in a remote island that they had thought was uninhabited. They find out that these people are cannibals. The cannibals are also idolaters who sacrifice people as part of their worship of their idols.
Moreover, as part of one of their yearly feasts, the entire tribe gathers to eat people that they have sacrificed to an idol. After having sacrificed those people to an idol, the worshipers sit down to eat the people that they had sacrificed to the idol and to do so as part of their worship.
Following their meal, the cannibalistic idolaters rise up to play. In their playing, they fornicate ritually, sing, and dance wildly. They do so to music played by musicians who also participated in the eating of the sacrifices.
The researchers secretly document all that takes place in this feast with top-notch drones that produce high quality audio and video recordings of all that took place in the feast. They release the recordings in an international news documentary. Some Christians see the horrific documentary and decide that they have to reach these people for Christ.
Music Used in Missions
Some missionaries decide to take a missions trip to reach these people. God works marvelously and some of the cannibalistic idolaters become believers!
The newly converted people have a burden to reach the rest of their own people. They plant a church and invite some of their own people to their services.
The missionaries teach the people that they should use music in their own “heart language” to reach people in their services. Because of what the missionaries teach them, the former idolaters decide to use in their services the same styles of instrumental music that they know the idolatrous musicians played in those idolatrous feasts. Of course, they use that music to accompany godly lyrics.
Based on what Scripture reveals, what should we think of what these converted idolaters did musically in their church? Was their use of that music to evangelize something that is legitimate? Did the missionaries correctly teach these people about using music to evangelize people?