Monday, August 29, 2016

Merely Sounding Brass—part 1


Merely Sounding Brass—part 1

            1 Corinthians 13:1, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”  There are a couple of thoughts that I would like to leave with you today.  The word charity which is used repeatedly in this chapter is translated from the Greek word agape (26). Albert Barnes, in his Commentary on the New Testament gives the following comments: “The words ‘And have not charity’ mean and have not love. This is the proper and usual meaning of the Greek word. The English word charity that is used in many translations of this passage of the New Testament, has, according to how it is used I a great variety of meanings; and some of them cannot be included in the meaning of the word here.”    It is believed by many Bible exegetes that agape connotes love in action or love that acts.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Understanding Music at its Deepest Levels


           Understanding Music at its Deepest Levels 
Every Christian organization that is responsible for music and musicing must understand music at its deepest levels if they are going to have an effective music witness in this post-postmodern world.  It is one thing for an individual to not bother to think through music’s nature and value philosophically, but it entirely another to try to guide others in the area of music’s nature and value without a thorough understanding of musical truth.  One of the reasons that many Christian organizations fail to develop a music philosophy is that they do not believe that there is any objective truth or Bible basis concerning music’s nature and value.  Some Christians have the notion that music philosophy is somewhat like jello gelatin i.e. that you cannot pin its meaning down because it is never stable or solid.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Bible Based Music Philosophy

         Bible Based Music Philosophy
           Is the Bible all we need in the development of a unified, *congruent, thorough, and useful Bible based music philosophy?  The answer is “no”, because as I said before, the Christian musician will not only need to know much of what the Bible teaches about music, but he or she will also need to have an understanding of music education, music history, church music, musical theory and composition as well as music *performance practice over the many centuries from ancient times to modern.  Why then do I keep mentioning Bible principles of music?  Bible principles are not all we need but they are the foundations of the development of our music philosophy.  When we are developing the who, what, where, when, why, and how of our musical beliefs, the Scriptures are the looking glass through which we always view the whole of music.
              Why do I continually talk about the "whole of music”?  If a music philosophy does not include the "whole" of music it will surely have a "hole" in it!  II Timothy 2:15   admonishes Christians to, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." The Greek word spoudazo (4704) translated study in this verse means to be earnestly diligent.  The word dokimos (1384) means, according to Jamison-Fausset-Brown, "tested by trial, as opposed to 'reprobate'".  So, St. Paul admonishes the Christian to study diligently to test all philosophical beliefs so that one’s praxis will be approved by the Lord before it is set into action in the church, music classroom, or performance hall.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Spirit filled musicians have the “Mind of Christ”—


        Spirit filled musicians have the “Mind of Christ”—
Knowing God personally does not make a musician more intelligent than a non-believer but it does make it possible for him or her to have the ability to “compare spiritual things with spiritual” because the Spirit filled musician has the “mind of Christ”—a condition that the worldly music philosopher does not have.  The musician who has the “mind of Christ” has the unbroken consistent wisdom of the Holy Spirit operating in his or her life throughout that Christian’s journey with Christ. 

       The Christian musician must constantly be cognizant of the fact that the world is not a friend of grace.  The worldly music philosopher that does not love God with all his heart, soul, and mind is not seeking to accomplish the same musical goals as the Christian musician who believes that God created music and therefore owns music which He created for His glory and our edification.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Music Matters to Pastors-Part-10


Music Matters to Pastors-Part-10

            The topic and text of the pastor’s sermon should not be “classified information”. If the pastor does not want the service to be a one man show he must share the responsibility and authority of the service with the musicians who work under his direction.  Any pastor who does not share the burden of the service with the music staff tends to operate as more of a dictator than a skillful leader.

            As I stated earlier, I am surprised that so few pastors pray with the musicians before the worship service.  The fact that the pastor and the musicians are busy is no excuse for failing to invoke God’s leadership and anointing on the church musicians and their musicing.  If there is not time for prayer before the service, then change the time that the worship service begins.

             If music ministry is going to be efficacious the musicians must have the power (dunamis 2975) of the Spirit on their musicing.  In my opinion, it is the responsibility of the pastor to personally pray with and for the musicians since he is the spiritual leader.  Praying with the musical staff sends the message to everyone involved the Church Music Matters to the pastor and that Church Music Matters to God. 






Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Music Matters to Pastors-Part-9


Music Matters to Pastors-Part-9

            Pastors should assist the musicians in their selection of proper music for the service by first of all telling the worship team leader where the service is intended to go.  What are the immediate goals of the service?  What is the topic and text of the sermon?  Should the organist player or not play during prayer?  What atmosphere and mood should be set by the instrumental prelude?  Should the choir sing before or after the message or both times?  Do you plan to invite people to pray at the altar after the message?  Will the call to prayer be aimed at saints or the unsaved?  Will the appeal be to sinners to come to repentance or to Christians to greater Christian’s commitment?  Do you have a particular song that you wish to be sung at the end of the service?  Do you want the minister of music to sing an invitation hymn?  Do you want the congregation to sing with the minister of music or stand quietly while he or she sings alone?  Would you prefer that the musicians play softly with no singing at all?

            The musicians including the song leader, minister of music, organist, pianist, praise team leader, keyboard player and perhaps some key instrumentalists should be called together with the pastor for a face to face meeting before the service begins.   All of the musical personnel need to know the pastor’s goals for the service in question before it begins.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Music Matters to Pastors-Part 8


Music Matters to Pastors-Part 8

               The pastor of the small church will usually not have a full-time minister of music and a paid staff of supporting musicians. Therefore, the pastor will have to be the resident church music philosopher along with a myriad of other pastoral tasks.  Also, he or she may have to act as the music worship leader.  Furthermore, the pastor may, of necessity, have to be the church choir director, the instrumental conductor, organizer of all special music, and whatever else happens musically in the small church.

            As I said earlier in our discussions of “Music Matters to Pastors”, a regular part of a pastor’s “life-long learning” and continuing education should include continued training in music and music philosophy.  Understanding problems of developing and administering a Christocentric biblically based music philosophy must be a preferred claim of the pastor’s continuing education.  Churches should support Bible Colleges and Seminaries that provide an opportunity for continuing education in church music for their pastor.  Pastors must take a” hand- on” approach to church music.  This does not mean destroying all initiative of the novice church musicians who give selflessly of their time and energies.  Many pastors who are strong leaders make the deadly mistake of choosing all the music for the worship and evangelistic services.  This is demeaning to a church musician.  Although it may be easier to pick all the selections and push the musicians around like they were pawns on a chessboard, it is the wrong decision to make.

            This style of leadership is not “pastoring” or “mentoring” but rather the work of dictator.  Pastors with strong personalities often treat professional church musicians the same way they do novices.  Rather than defining exact style and sequence of worship they desire, they become silently frustrated with what is happening in the worship and evangelistic services and blame most of the problems on the musicians and the music.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Music Matters to Pastors-Part 7


Music Matters to Pastors-Part 7

            So far in our discussions of “Music Matters to Pastors” we have considered the larger church that has a regular music staff including a minister of music, pianist, organist, keyboards, and instrumentalists.  These professional musicians need mentoring and personal attention of the pastor.  The church musicians of a small congregation, who are most often volunteers, need even more pastoral attention.  They need musical and spiritual mentoring.  If a pastor is going to mentor these volunteer church musicians who are in many situations also amateur musicians, he is going to need to know more about music than the names of the lines and spaces on a musical score.

             Pastors of a small church will find that their two to four hours of music taken in Bible College or Seminary will grow thin under such conditions.  The fact that most Bible College and Seminary degree programs include so few hours of music sets the pastor of the small church up for failure.  Sacred music is not a priority in the minds of most Department chair persons who develop these programs.

             Also, I wish to add that the few hours of music and or church music classes that formerly were required in degree programs are now often being replaced with fine arts credits like art, drama, and music appreciation.  Although these classes contain nice-to-know information, they are now precluding Music Philosophy in Christian Perspective, Music in the Bible, and many other church music classes which are much more germane to what these pastoral graduates will be doing on the job than the aforementioned fine arts classes.   Would you rather have a pastor who had a deep understanding of music in the Bible and music philosophy in Christian perspective or one who understood sculpture and the history of visual art? 

           What these chair persons fail to realize is that the majority of their ministerial graduates will not pastor a super church or even a large church.  If one were to look at twenty-first century church statistics, most churches now fall in the small to medium size class.  It is also my belief that they fail to recognize that that a Christian university or Bible college education needs to be different than a secular University education.  Although a Christian higher education should have high educational standards, it should be different in that it is permeated with Christian educational thought that is especially relevant to the church.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Music Matters to Pastors-Part 6


Music Matters to Pastors-Part 6

            If music is going to help accomplish the purpose of public worship, it must be a valuable concomitant of preaching and it must be carefully coordinated with the rest of the service.  Many pastors are so busy making sure that public worship does not become formal that, in an attempt to be folksy and familiar and thereby supposedly attractive to the audience, they allow a worship experience that has little or no structural form or direction. If a ministry staff does not coordinate all that takes place in the worship service, their attempts at achieving free worship turn in to haphazard worship experiences. I believe that pastor’s who hope for something spontaneous to light a fire under a sleepy worship experience, normally receive what a lack of careful planning usually brings to worship—little or nothing of lasting value at all.

             At this point, I want to make it very clear that the pastor and the music ministry team must be willing to give place to the moving of the blessed Holy Spirit.  However, it doesn’t have to be either or when it comes to the moving of the Holy Spirit.  The worship service that is well thought out and has structure in no way inhibits or prevents the moving of the Spirit.  The key too Spirit filled worship is, in my opinion, a willingness on the part of the pastor, music ministry team, and the congregation to get out of the way when the Holy Spirit begins to move in the worship service.

             As I have said before, the senior pastor is the key person in the development of a concept of worship that gives preeminence to the Holy Spirit.  Although the pastor in many situations may not be the one who is on his feet leading the worship experience, he is the one who must philosophically be the leader of organization and structure and the leader in letting the Holy Spirit have right of way at any place in the planned worship experience.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Music Matters to Pastors Part 5


Music Matters to Pastors Part 5

             Another philosophical issue it that of whether church music should be an end in itself, or whether it should be a concomitant of preaching of the Word of God.  Sometimes a minister of music and the pastor thinks of a song service and a preaching service as two separate entities.  In my opinion two distinct things are not happening on Sunday morning or at least there shouldn’t be two distinct things happening in the worship service.  It is useless to say that a church service is unified merely because the musicians sing and play about God and the pastor preaches about God...

             Philosophically, what should be happening is a worship service.  The pastor should work with the minister of music in developing a direction for that service.  So, what is needed is “songs for the service” rather than a “song service”.  The pastor must take the initiative to communicate directly with the worship leader.  It is certainly not the responsibility of the minister of music to corner the senior pastor his or her boss and try to squeeze out of the pastor what the intended tenor of an upcoming church service is.

            I believe that it is a mistake for a pastor to teach the music staff that everyone should pray and let the Lord lead by giving separate esoteric direction to everyone who will be participating in the upcoming worship service.  Prayer is, of course, necessary but we should never ask the Lord to do for us what we are capable of doing for ourselves.  Never has communication capabilities been as available as they are in this century.  Almost everyone has available to them a cell phone and or an email account.  So we are left, in most cases, totally without communication excuse!