Music: the Great Divide

Beth mentioned to me that the blog is becoming more her’s and Maddie’s and so a nice ramble or thought might be nice to balance out . . . so here I go.

I’ve been thinking a lot about church music.  Our current music minister has felt called to a church in Oklahoma and is leaving at the end of the month.  Therefore, our church will begin the process of seeking to replace this position.  But what has amazed me is how 1) different people’s ‘wants’ are in music and 2) how music can be such a source of conflict.  One of the reason’s I love our church is that we are diverse.  On any Sunday, you can find about 4 different generations of people walking (or crawling) around the sanctuary.  We are a family.  Yet we have some VERY different tastes when it comes to the ‘secondary’ issues in church.  For the most part, we all manage to get along because it can generally be minor differences.

Yet, music is different.  Think about it.  Music is front and center on Sunday mornings, and we all like something different.  Some members of our church could put on the Gaither Vocal Band (pic to the right for those of you who don’t know who they are) and hit “repeat” and be in tears.  I might be in tears . . . but for a different reason.  Me?  I’ve got Sovereign Grace-type music on my iPod.  Others may like to jam out to some Michael W. Smith or Lecrae.  So how is a church filled with diversity supposed to unite on an issue that has the potential to be so divisive?

Easy answer . . . hard application . . . Humility.  A few years ago, Dr. Russ Moore was answering a question of similar nature to a prospective student at SBTS.  He said that we have to first look and see if this is an issue of taste or truth?  IF the issue is truth, then there is a definite need to make a change.  Yet if the issue is one of taste, then we need to put aside all of our desires and wants.  He said that the day a church is truly humble is when the 80 year old legacy member of the church tells the pastor to play more “hip” songs to reach the 20 year olds AND when the 20 year old tells the pastor to play more southern gospel to reach the 80 year olds.  It’s a two way street.

I have been trying to apply this over the past few years to my own life.  I may not care for a certain song or version of a song, but if there is no issue of truth, then unity it is!  However, I am now beginning to think about this from a missiological perspective.  Is the corporate service worship time for the church members or for reaching out?  Or both?  If primarily for those in the church, then the humility is putting off issues of taste for the unity of the church.  Yet, if we are trying to reach our communities, then doesn’t the music need to be something that would draw or keep visitors around?  IF so, then taste is a major issue calling for even more humility of those in the church to put off their desires and wants for the greater good of the kingdom. 

I’m still trying to put all this together and so is our church.  So feel free to comment to help a brother out . . .

PS.  the best book I’ve read on this topic is Worship Matters by Bob Kaughlin (on sale now).

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