Sing Unto the Lord


What matters
August 22, 2008, 5:54 pm
Filed under: Thinking Music

I know that it is Friday and noone reads blogs on Fridays. Well at least I hardly get any hits on Fridays. However I thought this was so important and I didn’t want to lose my thoughts over the weekend.

I had a conversation with a mate today from another church and he was talking about a friend of his who is involved in music ministry. I won’t tell you too much about his situation but it was very similar to my own just a couple of years ago.

I was involved in a growing music ministry and I was keen to explore the opportunities I could have to do Music stuff full time for a church. Others encouraged me to think through doing MTS (Ministry training… like an internship) and getting some theological training but I wondered if it would be more beneficial to enrol at a music college or something similar and study there part time while running music stuff part time at church. Besides the obvious arrogance and pride of thinking that I could just dictate to my church what kind of job I wanted, I came to realise something about music ministry. Since then I’ve seen so many examples of it that it makes so much sense.

A ministry in music that is going to last and have a significant impact for the gospel will HAVE to be found, centred and forged from a deep rich theological understanding of God’s word and an ability to teach his word faithfully. Lots of guys are able to put out great songs and organise bands so that they are tight and can produce good tunes. Less but still lots of guys can write good Christ honouring songs.

However the ability to teach congregations not just how to sing but WHY to sing and to not just do that through little bits and pieces throughout a set but from the pulpit, requires someone to have a good handle on what the word says about song but even more than that, what it says about Jesus.

The ‘music guy’ or the ‘magnification guy’ depending on your context wants to help people see Christ’s glory properly and so to be moved by it that they want to give up everything for him, let alone sing their guts out. Music guys too often sell ourselves short and aim way too low by having as our main goal to do music in a way that people will love.

Who cares if people love it if Christ isn’t honoured.

I believe it is important to think about ways of doing music in a culturally relavent way. I also think that it is important to improve skills so that you achieve that goal well, but there is a greater goal.

We want to see Jesus glorified.

In the metropolitan tabernacle when Spurgeon was preaching there the music was fantastic. There wasn’t a band or even an organ. The song leader would hit the tuning fork and then the whole congregation would sing with so much enthusiasm that there would be tears all around the hall. The reason for their awesome singing was that they loved Jesus so much that their songs reminded them of him. There were hymns written that were reflective of what they had been taught.

However once spurgeon died and others took over the preaching lost some of it’s christ centeredness. But the music kicked on. So the church threw all it had at making the music great even though the gospel was becoming more and more watered down. People now loved singing those songs because of the experience of singing them. They didn’t love Jesus anymore, they loved singing. And so the church grew more and more liberal.

In the end it doesn’t matter what great songs you sing, if you worship the music more than the one who the songs are about then you are committing idolatory.

Is it more important for the guy who will have probably the greatest influence on how his congregation sings to be trained musically or biblically? In the end you might have some sweet music but if you just assume that you can input your own gospel centred lyrics because you’ve been hearing the Bible taught for ages in your church, then you have begun to assume the gospel. What legacy do you want to leave? Do you want to be the guy who made sure the music rocked or the guy who taught people Christ’s proper place in their lives.

I’ve got a good friend who did music stuff in a church for years. He was an evangelical but the church was on shaky ground. It lacked direction and good biblical teaching. He refused to be ‘the worship pastor’ because he rightly saw that that role would need to include a MASSIVE teaching component. He was adamant that he was just the music guy. He was a fantastic musician who had a good head on his shoulders for the theology of music but he never spent time teaching it to his church or pastors. He has left that church now and their music still rocks. He has left a massive legacy there in terms of skill. BUT, their theology and thinking in this area is wishy washy and directionless. Far from being christocentric. I never want to just be the music guy.

So I did MTS.

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