Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blogging The Deliberate Church: Part 6

Chapter 12 of The Deliberate Church is all about music. Not worship, just music. The chapter begins by pointing out that while it is common to equate worship with music, in reality music is only a subset of our corporate worship in the church. Still, its major place in most worship services necessitates an entire chapter in this book to talk about how we might be deliberate in our use of music in the church.

The authors contend that the two important factors to keep in mind with regard to music in the church worship service is that it ought to be corporate and it ought to be participatory. By "corporate" the authors mean that we should sing songs together to highlight the fact that we are not alone in our confession of Christ. Similarly when we sing songs together we are acknowledging the participatory nature of our musical worship. Not surprisingly, the authors shy away from encouraging solos and special music in the church and even suggest that a congregation's applause at the end of some performance pieces may indicate a shift in the focus of our attention away from God and on to the musician.

I appreciated the "three guidelines for congregational singing." First, singing corporately emphasizes the fact that our corporate worship is public, not privatized. While it is not wrong to have a personal experience in public worship, this is not the goal. Expressing the unity and harmony of the gathered congregation is more to the point, and I believe this concept is lost on the average American church goer. Second, songs should be theologically rich. More specifically, the authors contend that good worship songs have biblical accuracy, God-centeredness, theological and/or historical progressions, an absence of first-person singular pronouns, and music that complements the tone of the lyrics (p. 120). In order to ensure such a selection of worship songs, worship leaders really need to be theologically informed. Preferably, in my opinion, they need to be first and foremost pastors. Third, our music should be spiritually encouraging, something the authors contend will be the result if our songs are theologically rich.

Next in this chapter we find a discussion on musical accompaniment. The authors contend here that simple is best, offering their own example of using only a piano, guitar, and four vocalists lightly amplified (p. 122). While there are some really good things to say about this methodology (e.g. it is true that this is a more replicable model for deployment by smaller church plants), I find this suggestion to be offering a view that is too narrow for how we might be deliberate in our music. On the other hand I agree with and have recently benefited from worshiping with a music leader who is self-effacing and says fewer things during the worship service. I do wish all worship leaders would cut down on the flamboyancy and serve their people by actually leading them to worship in music.

More practical ideas follow in this chapter. There are good ideas for how to add variety to our musical selections. Surely it would be advantageous for us to deliberately teach new songs to our congregations. The chapter concludes with some ideas about how a young pastor can patiently transition a church into a more deliberate use of music in worship.

There is plenty in this chapter that is debatable. One might react to the suggestion that we not applaud in church or that we use only a piano and guitar in our instrumentation. But it is still worth listening to the authors' reasons for these suggestions. Hopefully all who do listen will attempt to think more deliberately about the use of music in our worship services.

1 comment:

Dusty Chris said...

Excellent Post...great thoughts