Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS)

College

Barnett College of Ministry & Theology

Department

Department of Christian Ministries and Religion

Primary Advisor

Dr. Anthony Roberts

Second Advisor

Dr. Melissa Archer

Third Advisor

Dr. Zachary Tackett

Abstract

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is estimated that nearly 20% of adults within the United States suffer from some form of mental illness.1 With roughly one-fifth, if not more, of the entire U.S. population facing a daily internal battle of some sort, this is an issue that is certainly elemental to the overarching purpose of the Church as an agent of reconciliation of creation with Creator. A prevalent problem requires prevalent solutions. What is something even more pervasive in every culture than mental health? Music. Melodies and lyrics are native to virtually every individual on earth. The field of neuroscience has begun to make headway in showing the positive correlation between listening to music and improved mental health. Also important to the conversation are positive psychology studies that illustrate the vitality of positive emotions in improving mental health. Worship in and of itself is essential to the DNA of the Church with one of its most common manifestations taking place in the form of song. With this in mind, the potential positive effects of worship music should be considered as a tool for those with mental illnesses. This paper explores the idea of worship, neuroscientific research indicating music’s effect on the brain, positive psychology’s emphasis on positive emotions, the role of lament, certain Biblical texts centered around worship, and current Pentecostal responses to mental illness. As summative illustrations, this paper interacts with insight gained on the use of worship music in a facility for sex trafficking survivors, as well as the Acts 16 story of Paul and Silas’ imprisonment. In conclusion, this paper argues that worship music is an effective vehicle with which individuals with mental illness can possibly experience the lessening of symptoms in addition to the presence of God based both upon scientific and Biblical bases.


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