Music in Revival

Doug Pagitt wrote about music at his church in his book Reimagining Spirtual Formation:

"The music we use in our gatherings is a homegrown expression of our faith. We have a disproportionate number of talented musicians who write and perform our music...In our community the role of music extends beyond mere praise and worship. Our songs serve to instruct, to teach, to call, to plead, and to express; music is narrative, it's prayer, it's a physical discipline."

"One of the roles of the church through the centuries has been to put faith into stories and songs that fit their day. This is what we're doing. Because we're committed to being a community that not only benefits from the Church that has gone before it, but contributes to the Church that will follow us, we want to do all we can to implore our in-house poets and musicians to create."

"For us music is not understood as preparation for learning, it is learning. It is not a precursor to worship, it is worship. It is more than a cognitive slide show of hopeful escapism. It's one way that we physically express our faith. For us worship is not fantasizing about somewhere else but an attemp to create a place of physical participation in the life of God with our bodies, in a place, with a certain group of people and a very real God."

One of the things I have discovered in studying church history is that revival is always linked with new music. This is is one of the areas that I feel I didn't encourage enough when we were at the church plant in Lansing. We only had one "express yourself" day for church. I remember being really encouraged by it. I was touched deeply by what Erin Long wrote. Maybe our church never reached the point of where we were so passionate about Jesus that our musicians felt the need to express themselves to God with new words and songs. But I want to be part of a church someday that has people who are called to write new expressions of our faith to God.

Another thought altogether. Too often we become dogmatic about worship. Unfortunately, most church splits that I hear about usually happen because of worship style. It is sad how we have turned something that should be a unifying time for a church into something we divide over. I remember being dogmatic during a spell in my college years about how songs we sing in church be only songs that are directed to God. How stupid I was. If we read through the Psalms, we see that some of the songs are that way; however, many of the songs are purely educational. Some songs we sing in church shouldn't be for God, but should be for the building up of the body to live out their Christian lives. In the end, I would say God is more glorified by a life lived out the way he planned rather than a person just singing songs in worship. If the music we sing doesn't create in us a desire to follow Christ in our daily lives, then we are just wasting our breath.

Watch out for the potholes.