I read these words on somebody else's blog, "The Church should be known for creating, not mimicking. We should inspire humanity's urges to imagine, dream, and invent. We should be known for new ideas, new art, and new creations as opposed to critiquing culture, copying culture, and protecting our culture."
I find a deep resonance here (Yes, you're meant to click on the word "here" and see where it takes you).
My involvement with church music has been varried. I have played with folk groups in the church, blue grass groups in the church, rock groups in the church, and most recently I've been leading a "chancel choir," which is overwhelmingly traditional in nature. I like most of it at least a little bit and can find a way to connect in pretty much all of these situations - that's probably because I'm a trained musician and music is part of my life language. It's how I deal with the world. So when I get to know new people, I try hard to get to know their music . . . especially if it's foreign to me. It helps me understand them better.
Oh, but the arguments are fierce. We argue about everything under the sun in our faith communities.
Perhaps some of this list is familiar to you: paint color, carpet color, padding for the pews, pews vs. chairs, microphones or no microphones, old vs. new, traditional vs. contemporary, rock vs. pop, gospel vs. high church, Armenian vs. Calvinist, big church vs. small church, pot luck vs. catered, progressive vs. conservative (let's not pretend we've protected our faith from this discussion) . . . and I could go on and on and on and on . . . .
The blog I've linked you to several times is someone else's list of "Theses" - you know, harkening back to the 95 Theses posted by Luther in 1517. He nailed his to a door. This person posted his on a blog.
I like this idea.
I like the fact that someone is thinking about this critically. Sometimes I want to step back from the Church universal and say, "Look at us. Can't we look honestly at ourselves? We have such work to do and so much of it is not what we believe it is."
We're often wrong.
I'm often wrong. The first thing I'll do every time I talk about something like this is admit that I am often wrong. I'm flawed. I don't know everything. There are people who know much, much more about all of this than I do.
But because I have a deep love of God, community, and the practice of God's presence, I want to use my mind to make choices that will be healthy and sustaining. Shouldn't we want that for our church homes?
The writer of this blog talks a lot about copying culture, borrowing from culture without wisdom, and trying "to be cool."
Sometimes trying to be cool looks like auto tune and the right set of electronic instruments. Sometimes it looks like the right flavor of Southern gospel music. When we label these things and call them "the only right thing" for our community, we cease to be effective and wise. We are blocked in . . . boxed in . . . . and we are no longer creative.
God is creating.
God will continue to create.
We are not perfect, but we are made in God's image.
As a songwriter, my goal is to create in a way that's honest. Sometimes that means showing others that I'm struggling. Sometimes it means telling the truth about something that other people won't want to hear. Usually it means that I'm going to end up looking supremely un-cool.
Yeah. That's right. I said it - in order to be wise and creative . . . in order to be honest and truthful . . . I am willing to be supremely, completely un-cool. I am willing to be at odds with my vernacular culture. I am even willing to be at odds with the culture of "The Church."
Sometimes the truth isn't at odds with these things. Sometimes the truth is already present.
Other times? The truth demands change or a diverging path.
Our job is to be critical thinkers, wise listeners . . . people who are pliable enough to tell the difference between what is popular and what is actually right.
I'm not telling you that this guy has all the answers on his blog. I am telling you that all of our Christian lives we should be willing to have our thoughts challenged . . . we should be happy to celebrate the fact that God is still mysterious . . . and that we are still being recreated even now.
Go. Think. Do something different.
Peace & Goodness,