Warning: Long Post here.
We’ve all had the conversations before. The one where the lead/senior pastor says something like, “we really need to cut down on some time in our services, let’s cut 10 minutes out of the worship and 5 out of the teaching”. I’m all for shorter services – especially with my attention span. But here’s what typically happens when it comes time to execute; at least this has been my experience:
We cut back on the music, in our case people come 5-15 minutes late, so they either miss it or miss a portion of it. The teaching gets cut back a few minutes as well (at least for the first service, but it gets increasingly longer each one). And then, this is what happens in our case specifically. The service wraps up in time, and we realize we have time, so we take it with closing announcement, stories, impromptu interviews, etc. So, we end up at the same time anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I can deal with this – that’s not really what this is all about.
What this is about is, what role does music really play in church today – in our American culture?
You’ve probably noticed that outside the walls of the church there are many similar gatherings, where a band is brought in to loosen up the crowd – maybe a big name to draw a crowd. After a song or two, the speaker gets up and does his thing for however long he or she can keep the crowd and then the band comes back up for another song or two… And interestingly enough a lot of these events are designed to raise money…
Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Buffet, Lenny Kravitz, Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton (sorry about the cheesy link)
I’m not really talking politics here – just a theme that seems to work and is suspiciously close to what we do every weekend in churches across America.
The question is, what is the role of music at church? I hope we all understand that the term worship is much more than just music. Music and song is just one form of worship, and one that is quite hedonistic in a sense that we enjoy good music (as opposed to not many people “enjoy” scrubbing toilets or changing poopy diapers).
Is music used to whip the people up and get them into a good mood for a message? Or to soften their hearts so that the Word can really “take root”? Or is it just something we’ve always done and so we continue mindlessly following in the footsteps of our forefathers?
I don’t have the answer. I do know that God has gifted humans with the unique ability to create – a Godlike character. Music is a creative process and therefor we glorify Him with our creative process and the act of presenting worship before him. At this point all I can say is that no matter what time we are given, no matter how many people are in seats, no matter what other staff members are doing, no matter what is going on in our lives – music has a way of reaching into our souls and touching us very deeply, and the Holy Spirit leads our hearts to worship through those times – sometimes.
So if the world uses music to raise money or get a vote – great. We use music to encourage our hearts to worship the creator of music. And if no one else appreciates it, our God does and we do (those working hard every weekend).
I’m not sure what the point was, but it felt good to get it out.