Sing Unto the Lord


Church Context – do I have one?
September 17, 2007, 2:44 am
Filed under: Thinking Music

My previous post about EMU music and Hillsong started a bit of a discussion about church context. I thought it might be good to put a few of my thoughts up about what a church context is, particularly in regards to music, and how to go about trying to respond to it.
1. Geographical
Most churches meet in a geographical location. Perhaps the church in second life is the only exception, although second life still works for this argument. Some meet in a hundred year old stone building with an in-built organ, others meet in a school hall, still others meet in a multi-purpose auditorium with their own sound gear and matching lights. All of these factors will impact what sort of music will be best in your context. It is easy to say we all want to sound like the next big church that meets in the megaplex down the road, but that will never happen in an old stone building. Deal with it and learn to play to your strengths. Having a big band may not work in your geographical context but having a tght intimate sound may be spot on.
2. Cultural
All places have a culture. Some cultural contexts may be similar but there are always nuances. Different ages in congregation create culture too. What is the dominant culture at each of your church’s services? What does the leadership intend to be the dominant culture? These questions will influence who chooses your songs and what styles they are played in.
3. Textual
Whichever book of the Bible your chuch is looking at currently, different themes will be more prominent. If you are looking at Revelation you will be singing lots about Christ’s victory. You will sing songs about the Lamb of God and his sacrifice. You will sing about the hope we have. If you are looking at Philippians you may sing songs of Joy. If you are looking at Habbakuk you will sing of God’s faithfulness and so on. Too often we just sing what is on the song list and what gets a good response. We need to think more intentionally (particularly after the sermon) about what is sung.
Hope this helps with choosing songs. Maybe you should write up a contextual profile of your church and think about what sorts of music you sould be playing to meet the needs of that context.
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