I have a buddy. He is one of those good buddies from way back that you don’t see as much as you like even though they live closer than you’d care to admit. He is a worship leader, a blogger and he is currently attending a month long training program for worship leaders in California (tough break). I know very little about this training school or the church running it but they must be amazing because he is an excellent worship leader already.
Anyhoo, he replied to my last blog. Read the post and his reply.
I thought I would respond to him.
Well, to start with he is obviously correct. I want to see all the things Jon wants to see in worship. I want healings, salvation, the broken fixed, and the disturbed to find peace. Would I be happy for that to take the focus away from the musicians? Even if the musicians were ground breaking mini-Mozarts? Of course.
However, (there is always a freakin however. why CAN’T WE JUST GET ALONG!!!) I want both. I want music that is innovative, passionate, original, and incredibly creative because that is what God is. God is the ultimate creator and we were made in his image.
As a Christian who attends Church I have had to learn to turn off my musical taste when I worship. I tune into the words of a song, I tune into the bible and I tune into Jesus. I choose to worship. I cannot count the vast Christian conferences I have been to that have incredible talent at their disposal and yet the same blandness gets served up every time.
Am I missing the point? Worship isn’t anout the music, right? In that case lets sack off the music. If the music is not important then lets just use our voices.
So worship is properly rattling round my head at the moment. I wrote recently about Multi-Cultural worship can be a red herring for churches if they don’t carefully think through what they want to achieve. I honestly think that the British church is missing vast opportunities to reach out with the music they use in their main meetings. Music can be a huge missional opportunity if we use it correctly.
Anyways, as I was thinking about this a song came on the radio (6music Woop! Woop!) that made me sit up and listen. It is a beautiful tune that made me want to worship God. They are not (as far as I know) Christian, but they are imaginative, ground breaking and heartfelt. Everything worship music should be and often isn’t.
Now there is every chance that you may watch this and think it is toilet. That is not the point.
What is the point? Well, where are the creatives? Where are the worship leaders who are breaking new ground in music and genre? Are they being sat on by conservative church leaders? Are they put of by criticism? Am I holding people back in our church because of my own musical tastes?
Anyhoo, watch this –
One of the searches that brings the most traffic to this blog is “Why worship music sucks”. I get hits from that regularly. I think it is kinda funny but I also wonder if it just shows I am only contributing negatively to this debate.
I want to be part of a church that pushes cultural boundaries. I want to see church bust out of the “worship music genre” and create sounds, music, songs, and worship that the local communities can really get a hold of. I want to see churches that innovate musically so that the world looks in and sees creativity not mediocrity. Do I get that by whining about worship music and contemporary christian music (CCM)? Probably not.
A friend of mine got annoyed by my complaining about CCM and worship music. In short, he told me to shut-up or have a go myself. This would be disastrous given my considerable lack of talent and gifting. However, it did make me think that I need to be able to do something productive.
So here is some positivity – At Christ Church Manchester I am not alone in my desire to produce amazing worship. We have some very good worship leaders who love music (this is surprisingly rare) and are genuinely talented. We also have musicians who are trying to get into local bands and influence the scene in Manchester.
In September we will start our second site called CCM:City (it was formerly The Chapel). One of the things that excites me about this venture is that we are not scratching around for musicians, we already have some real talent. It wont happen quickly and I am expecting some spectacular mistakes but I honestly think these guys and girls could do something quite special.
My job is to give them plenty of freedom, backing, time and to avoid snobbery. My taste is not important. There is a chance we could end up with something I find very distasteful but it maybe incredibly innovative, creative and worshipful. I cannot wait.
So I have started writing a blog on the Dadtalk website.
I am writing about being a Dad. This a new subject area for me and I am not entirely sure I am comfortable with the idea yet but I am going to get it a go and see how I get on.
Anyways, go have a read if you are interested. If not, watch this Frank Turner Video which touches on a few of the themes I look at in my blog (two months till the Reading Festival!) –
I have been brewing this blog for a while. It is one of those opinion posts that I sometimes live to regret.
Multi-cultural worship is something I hear Christians talk about a great deal. On one level I think the idea is awesome and on another level it kinda bugs me (something that bugs me? Surprise!).
At CCM we have a very ethnically diverse church. We have people from Poland, Nigeria, Italy, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Sudan, the UK and a whole bunch of places I cannot remember. We often try to Worship in ways that reflect the culture of all the different nationalities, although everybody is keen to worship regardless of cultural or musical genre. So we use a few different languages and try to be imaginative where we can. Our worship leaders and musicians work hard and I am a big fan.
I am a big fan of churches adopting musical styles to meet the cultural needs of different ethnicities that may be represented in the church. If it helps them feel like they are valued members of the community then I am up for it. I can almost get my head round using styles of worship to reach out to ethnic groups that aren’t currently part of that church, although if that ethnic group doesn’t even exist in the churches locality I am not sure what the church is expecting to happen.
However there seem to be very few British churches who talk about using different styles from within our own culture. There is little use of music from popular (or unpopular culture). Is this due to the fact that the worship leadership scene is dominated by the white middle classes, and is also largely male and middle aged? Or is to do with the fact that church leaders feel uncomfortable pushing there worship leaders to view musical styles as a mission opportunity?
More to follow…
Some buddies of mine have started blogging –
Tim Windsor Brown – http://ecstasyonion.wordpress.com/
Silklife Church in Macclesfield – http://silklifechurch.wordpress.com/
Go read them.
Also Christ Church Manchester (my church) has rebooted its webpage. Look its shiney.
Counting attendance at meetings, visitors, regulars, and irregulars can become a stick to beat yourself with or a cause for celebrating your own brilliance. I swing happily between both extremes. Somewhere in the middle there is a happy medium where the numbers help you develop strategy, plan, dream and pray.
However, numbers don’t tell you the stories. They don’t explain why, by some freak occurrence, one week all your regulars will just stay at home and you are left with six people looking awkwardly at each other. Or why a month later the same thing happens but all your new people turn up in one go and there is suddenly 20 people praising God with everything they have.
Numbers don’t tell you about the night where we had two harden heroin addicts at one end of the room and a group of nice Christian kiddies at the other end.
Numbers don’t explain how adding two key people suddenly gives you access to 20 other people or how hosting a BBQ makes a dozen people for involved.
Numbers don’t explain how stupid you feel when you have spent 8 hours preparing a sermon for 10 people, or how thankful you feel when you decide to wing it (i.e. you run out of time to prep!) with 20 people and God moves.
Numbers don’t explain the feeling that you may be doing something completely irrelevant and worthless because nobody shows and those that do look bored. Or how four weeks later you finally allow yourself to think that you may be on to something.
Numbers don’t explain the feeling when people who met each other via The Chapel become mates and start forming community.
Numbers suck, stories rule.
I like to count. I like to track growth and decline. I like being able to see when and why we grow or shrink. This is fun when you have a full room, and it sucks when there is only six of you (that was a low in every sense of the word).
So The Chapel started at the end of September 2009. Since then we have had over 60 first time visitors, roughly 30 – 40 people come along regularly and the last two months have seen us average around 20ish (biggest night was 24) people on a Sunday evening. We started in September with a handful of people who were committed to The Chapel, this group changed over the year.
It feels like we have scaled the heights and plumbed the depths, however I doubt that we have done either. The strange thing about looking back is the odd feeling that it is only going to get more exciting, difficult, joyful and excruciating in the future.
I have learnt a whole bunch about pioneering, planting, security, ego, how much I suck and what having faith actually means. I will unpack a bunch of that over the summer.