Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Musical Interlude

I just read an interview with Ken Medema and his wife (ht: BHT). He had some rather provocative things to say.

He thinks most churches have too much music:
The church is obsessed with music. The church has this false idea that if you have the right kind of music you will bring the people in, you will suck them in! And that came right out of the 14th and 15th centuries when the church was doing organs.

Organs were a Roman circus instrument. When the church started doing organs, the cathedral with the biggest organ would draw the most people. That’s why they started writing organ pieces, as interludes between the chants. If your church had a big new organ, you’d draw the people.

We do these music shows to draw the people in, and we call it worship, and what it is is just emotional manipulation. Too much music in the church.
He does, however, think that music is important to the church:
Music is for us [my wife and me] a vehicle. A tool. I learned that as a music therapist. I worked with mentally disturbed kids, and the whole philosophy was that music was a tool for accomplishing some other things, whether it was to help kids to get back into reality, or developing muscle groups. Whatever it was, music was a vehicle to get us there.

[The songs] need to be an expression of people’s devotion and discovery, an aid to discipleship, teaching tools for theology and helping to conceptualize our task. When I look at what I consider to be the best of hymnology, or even contemporary Christian music, there is always the component of challenge in it. There’s always the component of helping me grow, helping me discover something new, helping me find something that I need to know.
He longs for more depth in the music of the church:
In any musical style, whether it is traditional hymnody, folk music, country, rock 'n’ roll, heavy metal, classical, there is music that is the product of the best thinking, the most conscientious effort, and then there is music that is much less carefully done. There are bad hymns. When I was growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, there were a lot of scholcky hymns, and I can’t really say what made them that way, except that they were made without the greatest care, without a desire for excellence.

The churches that do it best, are the churches who don’t ask the question, “What kind of music do we need to draw people in?” but the question, “What kind of music would help my people express their devotion in their mother tongue?”

I’ve seen teens sitting in the front row, on the edge of their seats singing “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” with incredible passion. In that same church, there’s a 70-year-old woman, with a cracked voice, singing “In times like these, you need a savior.”
He also has some things to say about preaching:
Now, sometimes I want that kind of carefully wrought, elegant, every single word in place experience. And then there are times when I want my pastor to just be a witness. To just sit down, and say, “You know what, you know what happened to me?” and just talk to me like anyone else would. I want all of that.

There are moments when you need the work of art. You need that carefully written script where every single word is in place. And then there are moments when your pastor simply needs to sit down and say, “Okay people, here’s what’s on my heart today.” And there are times when a gathering feels that way.
Be sure to read the touching story (which he made into a song) about the 14-year-old girl who coerced him into dancing even though he said that he didn’t know how.

Pastor Rod

“Helping you become the person God created you to be”

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