Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

And now, for something completely different... a little pre-show music.

I decided a week or so ago that I would write some pieces about music and post them on my Facebook page. I'll be posting them here as well. They will rarely make Facebook references, but I don't really care to take the time to edit them for this blog. So here is the first one, as written for Facebook, and I trust the reader will be able to consider it without being to distracted by comments referring to the original intended context.

I think the one thing that comes up most often when I talk to people about worship is music. Obviously, music is an important part of worship, so it's natural that people would want to talk about it. Whether or not it's as important as most Christians think it is, however, is a whole other question.

The "worship wars" are gradually becoming old news, it seems to me. As the older generation of Christians are passing on, so is the music they were accustomed to hearing in church. And as the younger generation has grown up and is taking the reins of leadership, the default position now in most Evangelical churches seems to be contemporary worship. Generally, though, what is meant by "contemporary worship" is simply "worship with contemporary music". This isn't to say that there aren't other things that have changed in worship in recent decades. But let's be honest. People don't generally find themselves in the middle of huge church splits over whether or not to have a skit before the sermon on Sunday morning. Usually, the fights that take place over worship in the local church center around music. Of course, when the shift in music takes place, other things usually come with it. You don't find churches with worship bands where the seats are full of women in dresses and men in three-piece suits, after all.

Then there is the whole question of music outside of corporate worship. As a Christian, is music that falls under the heading "Christian" the only type of music I should listen to? Is all "secular" music bad? I'm always intrigued by the different answers to these questions that are bandied about in Evangelical circles.

When I signed up on Facebook a couple of months ago, I didn't really anticipate reconnecting with so many people from earlier in my life. As I've interacted with old friends through email and online, music usually comes up, since I'm a musician of sorts. For what it's worth, I must confess that I don't play guitar much anymore. I'd rather listen to others play these days. And the photo with the headstock of my guitar? I was just trying to get an artsy picture for my profile.

Nonetheless, people who haven't seen me in years still think of me, I guess, as a musician. For those who have only known me recently, it used to be that my guitar and I were practically joined at the hip. Much of my identity was wrapped up in it. These days, I'd rather be reading. The world is full of things to learn, and I want to learn all I can, hopefully for my own good, for the good of others, and, especially, for God's glory. I find the masses, however, aren't as interested in knowledge. For most people, armchair polymath apparently holds less mystique than guitarist. If you play a song people like, they love you. If you tell them some sort of insight you gained from Scripture, or from reflecting on the world around you, they generally seem, shall we say, less than impressed. Alas.

But I still consider myself a musician. I've been a sort of musical jack of all trades, master of none. I sang in choirs and choruses in school and church from elementary school on up through high school, and even one semester in college. I played in a garage band in high school. I sang with a southern gospel group briefly. I led singing in youth group, and daily worship for a ministry I served at for a couple of years. I've sung solo in churches and in coffee shops. I've dabbled in everything from barber shop to Bach to the Beatles. So, though I may not be classically trained, in light of my experience I believe I have some views on the topic of music that are worth sharing.

So my plans at this point are to post occasional thoughts on music, both inside and outside the church, and this is the introductory post. As always, I welcome any interaction on what I'm writing.


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