Sing Unto the Lord

extra hour of rehearsal
July 30, 2007, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Doing music

About six weeks ago at our church I asked the band who were playing on a given night to turn up an hour earlier than they had previously. I was nervous about this because I didn’t want to be taking up too much of the guys time. I thought that as everyone only plays 2 in 6 weeks, they could afford the arvo. The purpose of it was to look at the bible together, chat, and to think more creatively about the music they played rather than just rushing through each song.
I was reflecting yesterday how this has been really successful.
Each week one or two songs have new arrangements that I get feedback about. Most people find the new arrangements realy helpful in re-thinking about what they are singing. I also think that a sense of team has developed amongst the bands and they are working well together. All in all I think it was a good move. If you are a muso or a member at our church let me know what you think. If you are from elsewhere let us know how your rehearsals run.


Recruiting Non-Christians into your music team
July 24, 2007, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Doing music, Thinking Music

Had a good chat with a friend two weeks ago who runs the music at his church and we were talking about recruitment for music ministry. He had the dilemma of having awesome musos in his church who were not christians. He was asking whether it is a problem to have non-christians as part of your music team.
I reckon heck yes for three reasons.
1. Historical/ Old Testamental (?)
David appointed Asaph and his descendents to oversee the music ministry within the temple in the Old Testament. These were a group of guys who were already part of the Levitical priesthood. Even when Solomon was king and had access to the best gentile musicians around, the music within the temple continued to be run by those within God’s covenant.
When the Israelites returned from exile in Babylon, one of the first things that gets re-established is Asaph’s descendents making music in the temple.
I don’t think this argument is flawless but I do see a pattern in the Old Testament practise that could be carried on to the New… except, in the New Testament, all who are God’s people are his priesthood and in the New Testament we are all told to make music in our hearts to the Lord. These passages are directed to christians still. Those in relationship with God. So a pattern is there.
2. Biblical church model
The second reason is that Non-Christians are spoken of as observers in church in the New Testament but never as partakers. In 1 Corinthians 14:24 it is expected that the idiotes (unbeliever who does not understand) will visit and if we are speaking in tongues without any interpretation it will confuse the visitor. However there is no mention of the idiotes bringing in his guitar for a sing along.
The fact that there are no self proclaimed non-christians in the early church says something about practise to me. However there are many non-christians in the church calling themselves christians. Annanias and Sapphira, all the Judaizer dudes, the Nicolaitions… All of these groups claim that they belong to Christ and seem to be part of church but the gospel shows them up for what they are.
3. Different Kings, different Kingdoms
This is the most convincing argument I see as to why we don’t have non-christians in our music team. They are not there to worship God. They are there to show their talents. Even if they are trying to help out due to some altruistic motive, their king is ultimately not Jesus, it’s them.
A Non-Christian in the music team will not understand the importance of humility, scriptural truth or attitude of service to the same extent that your christian musicians would.
In our team we put certain expectations on the musos spiritually that a non-christian has no obligation to meet.
As great as it may be to get that person along to church because they love playing in the music team, there are bigger things going on. How hypocritical to have those who are leading the congregation in corporate affection for Jesus with black unrepentant hearts to the very one who we sing to.
If you begin allowing Non-Christians to play in your team, you will end up losing purpose and drive within your team. The desire for excellence musically will outweigh the desire for excellence spiritually and you will have a bunch of guys putting on a show every week. I haven’t addressed every issue in this topic so raise your questions and objections in the comments.

Luther and Dave Miers
July 24, 2007, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Everything else

Two weeks ago, Dave gave a talk at church about Jesus from Luke 4 when he was preaching to his homies in Nazareth. Dave mentioned how the Nazaretheans reacted against Jesus because they had known him as a boy.

Read this quote from Luther this morning that made me laugh out loud.
…For what is more wonderful than the unspeakable mystery: that the Son of God, the image of the eternal Father, took upon Him the nature of man? Doubtless, He helped His supposed father, Joseph, to build houses, for Joseph was a carpenter. What will they of Nazareth think at the day of judgement, when they shall see Christ sitting in his divine majesty?
Surely they will be astonished, and say: “Lord, you helpest build my house, how comest you now to this high honour?” ‘

Mind songs/ heart songs
July 22, 2007, 4:46 am
Filed under: Thinking Music

Some would say that there are two types of songs that Christians sing in their churches. Mind songs or Heart songs. What they mean is that some songs are written to proclaim a doctrinal truth or to fill out a theological idea. Many would say that these songs are generally subjective, proclamatory (proclaim something to the world rather than ‘prayerful’ to God), and dry. These are the Mind songs.

Heart songs are all about how I feel towards God. They evoke emotion in me and they are filled with a lot more feeling. These songs are not so heavy with theology but are strong in helping me respond emotionally to God (emotional response is a good thing). Many different people accuse others of singing one group or another of these songs.

Mind people think that heart people have no substance and heart people think that mind people don’t care.

The whole division misses the point of scripture. We as Christians are called to respond to the truths of God with our hearts. How often do I hear Christians who believe that they are strong theologically point the finger at others for being too emotional. God is the god of our affections. If we say that we believe we are deserving of God’s unquenchable fury, that we have no good in us and yet Jesus came and took all of that upon himself so that we could be adopted as the children of God, if we believe all that and are not moved emotionally then one would question the validity of our belief.

And how often do I hear others who believe that they respond to God with appropriate emotion say that others are just obsessed with doctrine and truth and the Bible. Without truth emotion is just emotion. You are not responding to anything but vague ideas and ethereal spiritualness.

Strong biblical theology is nothing without a heart that sings with thankfulness, and emotional expression is nothing without something to be emotional about.

I want to sing songs with my mind and my heart. I want to proclaim the things that Christ has done and will do with tears streaming down my cheeks. The things of Jesus are not abstract thoughts, they are saving truths!

For myself, I struggle at times to be emotional in the way that I should. Too often I sing lyrics that should leave me broken and yet I am unaffected. I am praying that the hardness of my heart will be done away with and that I can worship my saviour with all my mind, and all my heart.

How great thou art (or something like that)
July 19, 2007, 12:13 pm
Filed under: Thinking Music

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.

I sang this song with great gusto recently at an event where I had the opportunity to sing with a bunch of people from different backgrounds. A lady across from me sang her heart out in the chorus (particularly in the ‘..THEN SINGS MY SOUL’), but in the above verse she yawned and turned around to smile and chat to people nearby until the chorus came up and then she belted it out again.
It got me thinking… Why is God great? What does God do that makes him worthy of our praise and worship? Do we just sing to him with gusto because it makes us feel good to sing?
Jesus! Jesus is God’s greatest revelation to us of his mercy, kindness, compassion, justice, might, sovereignty. Jesus and his work on the cross are the reason why we sing praises, and live lives of worship to God. My soul sings because Jesus has bled and died in my place. He took my burden and God’s wrath for me has been satisfied. My Saviour God, Thou art indeed great! May we never stop singing about Jesus because we want to sing about how much we love singing. May we never stop singing about Jesus for any reason. How great Thou art!

Running an intentional Music ministry
July 19, 2007, 12:02 am
Filed under: Thinking Music

I have been thinking a bit lately about the way we do stuff in music ministry. So often, the people who are responsible for making this area of church life happen, are not paid to give their time to music ministry and so are rushed and busy in the way that they conduct it. I have spoken to a few guys lately who are running music in their church and they would love to try and do different things and to teach more songs or reorganise the roster or write new arrangements but it doesn’t ever happen because life is so busy. So we fall into the default mode of just doing whatever we did last week and we keep being dissatisfied with the result.
Last year I had a chat with a close friend about the way I was spending my time. He introduced me to a word that has changed my thinking not just about my time or music ministry but about all of life. He told me that I should be ‘intentional’ with my time. To be intentional means that there is always a goal or result that you are hoping to achieve. Basically you will always have ‘intent’. No minute or act is wasted. As Christians we are called to be intentional. We are to ‘run the race’, ‘persevere’, ‘fight the good fight’. We should be doing these things with the intention of bringing glory to our Lord Jesus. We are to worship him with our time and our bodies, constantly seeking to refine ourselves through the power that God gives us in his Spirit. Being a worshipper of God is not shift work. It is a constant. Not only that but it is never over. There is no point in this life where you can say that you are done with worship. It is a continuous process, an intentional process.
I believe that we should take this approach to ministry. There is no time when your ministry is complete. You can never say in this life that the congregation and the music team have a perfect theological understanding of worship, are perfect at loving one another and encouraging one another, and are perfect masters at their craft of music making for God’s glory. And I don’t believe it is enough to accept that there are problems but to respond apathetically to them. To be satisfied with sub-par music, dodgy theology and an unloving music team is to say that you do not care for God’s glory.
That all being said, we still face the issue of time and how to best utilise our time to see results – particularly in the case of unpaid workers who need to earn a living elsewhere. One thing that I have tried to do that you might find useful is to write out a five year action plan. Where do yo want to be in five years in this ministry? What are you doing year by year, and roster by roster to reach these goals. In every action that you do are you working towards your goals or are you continuing to spend your time in an activity that doesn’t need to be done? You may find that doing something like this frees up time because you begin to streamline your activities to reach goals. Some questions that might be helpful in setting goals are:
– How large do I want this music team to be? How can I reach that goal?
– What culture do I want to develop amongst the congregation in terms of singing? How can I reach that goal?
– How proficient or what level of excellence do I want to see among the musos? Why? How can I rach that goal?
– What acts of creativity would I like to see develop? Song writing? More arranging?
– What kind of leadership structures will I need to see these things happening effectively?

I hope these thoughts have inspired you to go and begin shaping a future for your ministry area. Remember that this will only happen through God and for his glory. Keep yourself humble, keep Jesus exalted.

In a rush
July 16, 2007, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Just a quick note to tell you all I haven’t left the blogosphere. I’ve just had a bit on lately. I’m about to head off to Meroo for staff conference but I will be back Wednesday night. Look here again on Thursday because there should be two good posts by then.
While you are on the web check out Cardiphonia. It is a music site run by some clever Pressies. I like it’s layout a lot. It caters for a more liturgical/traditional style of music ministry.