Church music is a really a fascinating and peculiar thing. It’s such a broad subject that I have a hard time wrapping my head around it most days. On one hand, church music is the heart-felt cry of generations of congregations connecting to and glorifying God, and on the other it’s a hundred million dollar industry that lives in some pretty shady areas and carries the potential to split churches right down the aisle.
It might seem simple, but church music takes a ton of work. Before a single note is played in an auditorium somebody has to sit down and decide among hundreds of song options, and every time a choice is made a potential attendee is alienated. Traditional or contemporary? Choir or band? Guitars or pianos? Hymnals or Keynote? Worship leader or minister of music? Jeans or suits? If we do rock n’ roll style music will we need a bigger sound system? Where do we get the money for the bigger sound system? Do we pay the musicians? Do we pay the musicians but not the singers or pay the singers and not the musicians? Do we pay the sound people? How loud is it supposed to be? What’s a decibel? Can somebody please turn the drums down? How do we decide which songs to sing? Do we play Hillsong or North Point songs? Israel or John Mark? How many songs should we sing each week? How often can we do new songs? and so on and so on…
And even after you prayerfully decide all of that, people are still gonna hate the music. Very rarely will someone go to church because they love the music and patiently bide their time during the teaching, but every Sunday plenty of people “suffer” through music they hate and that’s too loud to get to the preaching that they love – and guess what? I totally get that.
Maybe it’s just because we do church in Music City U.S.A. where every other guy in the pew could probably outplay everybody on stage, but I think we’d be hard pressed to find a large majority of attendees that genuinely “love” the music (volume, style, duration, etc). I’ve even got guys that play on the music team that don’t love the style of music we do.
So here’s the question, if church music is so stinking polarizing, why do we spend almost half of our 1 hour program doing it? What intrinsic value does music have that makes it worth all of the effort? Why go to all of the trouble?
I’ll let you know what I think in part 2, but for now – what do you think?
Why do we sing at church?