In serving in worship teams for 15+ years and now being part of an incredible community and industry that shapes the sound of many churches, I have come across many recurring discussions:
Is our music just for the church? Should our creativity be confined to just the four walls on Sunday? Is the music and production as important as the song itself? What is the balance for pushing boundaries in our worship and doing what has been proven to help people encounter God in a service? Where is the line between production that’s too distracting and production that moves people’s hearts?
I believe I have found a better question to ask: “What do we ultimately want to accomplish through our music?
Many times in our culture, the answer turns to creating a very singable song with simple anthemic lyrics and production so that most people can pick things up quickly. Some would argue that this creates an environment for the most amount of people to encounter the presence of God and helps songs reach more churches.
But… what if our worship music’s purpose was bigger than the four walls of the church?
Ministry should be at the heart of every believer. We are all called to represent Christ in everything to everyone around us. We are all full-time missionaries, even if you just work at a coffee shop.
People everywhere are looking at what we produce in every area of our lives, including our creativity, to see if we have something they do not. They only seek after something they see of value. If we do not display any more fruit than an unbeliever, then what kind of life are we living?
What if we looked at our music with this standard of excellence? What if every song we wrote and played were done knowing that it could attract people to the throne room of God? What if we put as much intentionality into every detail of a song so that it represented God’s best to all people of different demographics?
Now hold up Jordan… some musicians are called to that kind of thing, but worship music is for the church. Leave that “artsy” stuff to those people called to evangelize in a different lane. People have different purposes, right?
The first time anyone does something new, or what we would label as “artistic”, the response from the congregation is going to be resistance and hesitation. I would bet that when Hillsong Young & Free played one of their electronic-heavy songs for the first time, the congregation did not immediately dance and sing along passionately like they do now. Other churches probably had to think hard before introducing that sound to their own churches. Now, they fill arenas and churches all over the world sing their songs.
Songs and lyrics take a lot of work. Doing a new thing takes work. Pulling creativity from the future rather than looking to songs from the past takes work. I get it, but shouldn’t we be working hard at all of it? What if we pushed every area of what we produce in the church so that people inside the church were presented with something fresh and exciting and people outside of the church saw something produced with a greater excellence than what they see in the world?
Where is our standard set?
That’s great, you know, for Christians… or That’s great, for the all of the world…?
We owe it to everyone to bring fresh fruit to the table.
To serve great meals of creativity where every item on the plate is prepared with excellence and satisfies the spiritual appetite of the lost. Every sound we create conveys different emotions. By limiting ourselves in the sounds we produce, we are limiting our listeners to the vast array of emotions God encompasses.
I am writing all of this praying and believing that many of you will go on to writing, producing, and/or playing on new songs that will represent Jesus to the world. We live in a time where it is easier than ever to accomplish this. My greatest dream is to see a generation of musicians and artists who are profoundly passionate – Passionate about pulling heaven to earth and exploring the new dimensions of heaven’s creative culture. I do not claim to have all of the answers, but today I am going to be intentional about exploring where I can.
You may also be interested in these posts!
- Worshipping Through Authentic Creativity
- I’m a Worship Leader But Why?
- Performance VS. Worship
- Meredith Andrews: Leading With Authority [Podcast]
- 5 Qualities of a Healthy Church [Podcast]