music matters

In a recent article, Pastor Andy Stanley challenged and encouraged me in a profound way. As a musician and worship leader, it is so easy to err on the side of musical conservatism, thinking that good, interesting music detracts (and distracts) from real "worship." So often I focus on theological content and lyrical creativity and sing-ability, before I think of the music quality. And while I think this is a healthy and appropriate approach to take when choosing worship music to be used in the church, Stanley made me take a deeper look at the issue of the music itself. He writes:
As a performer, as a listener, as a visitor who might end up in a most unexpected place on a Sunday morning, music has a transformational power. And it moves people in ways that even the best communicator cannot.

Music matters.
To neglect the art of music, is to exclude from musical worship one of the most important elements. Music catalyzes the release of the affections.

At New Life, we have labored to ground music in the truth of who God is and what He has done, but also integrate music that is pleasing to the most critical or easy-going listener.

I must be careful to communicate that music is not the paramount element in musical worship. Clearly, Jesus was concerned that He be worshipped in Spirit and in Truth rather than in a certain place or form. If, by achieving quality music, you sacrifice theological integrity and God-honoring, Christ-centered praise, then worship is no longer in Truth. If, by achieving quality music and theological soundness, you quench the affections made alive by the Spirit, then you have erred on the opposite side. These three components work best when working together, because music is the key to unlocking the affections implanted by the Spirit in response to the Truth of God revealed in the Gospel.

Music matters.

Makoto Fujimura, an influential Christian artist, once said something that absolutely gripped me when I heard it a couple weeks ago:
Though the church may have left the arts, God has not...
We left culture to people who do not know Christ--
we are reaping the natural consequences of that vacuum...
Christians need to be seen as "creative artists"...
Music, invented and designed by God to bring Him glory, has been nearly entirely tarnished by culture. So much so that drums, for a long period of time (and to an extent, today) were viewed as instruments of the devil. We are reaping the natural consequences of believing that (good) music and (good) art has no place in the church: oh how wrong we are!

God is doing work to re-capture the arts. Good music must be continually reinstated and retaught to churches, that God may again use church music--worship music--to reach the lost for Christ.

Music matters.