Church, Manchester, Faith, Punk

Posts tagged “worship music sucks

Contextualisation sounds like this

Here is the CCM:City take on Jesus Saves –

I think this is my favorite one so far. It has a fair bit of cross over and so is probably not pure dance music but it really thumps!

We want Manchester to hear us and be surprised!

All three songs that Mike has re-imagined are here –


Dance Worship

So we are on a journey at CCM at the moment. The guys at CCM:City are experimenting with dance music in our worship times. We are privileged to have some very talented musicians who are passionate about worship.

I have banged on about worship music being missional for ages in the hope that a few people would join us who A) agreed and B) were talented enough to make it happen. Prays answered. Thanks boss.

Manchester has more nightclubs than people, dance music rules in this city. To not at least try and incorporate dance music into our worship would be a colossal oversight.

So we have a track that we want to put out there. We have used it on a Sunday a few times and it works (pretty much). We are working hard on increasing the flexibility of the music so that we can go wherever God takes us as we worship. We are not quite there yet. What you will hear is a backing track that we make our drummer play along to (he is awesome) and the worship leader adds some elec guitar. We think that we can soon fire the drummer and just have a guy on a laptop.

Anyhoo, we remixed consuming fire by Tim Hughes. We slowed it down a little. We threw in some beats. We ran it over with a lorry and then we got R2D2 on lead vocals.

Have a listen –

I didn’t vomit

Well, I didn’t barf which is always a good way to start a new church campus/site/location.

There was a whole bunch of us there because we couldn’t use our morning venue so the good people of Christ Church Manchester pitched up at Luther King House.

It was a good night and it was nice to have a packed out room. Our prayer is that by the end of the year (academic) we will have 50 people at CCM:City and 100 at CCM:East. Simple.

Ps here is another Spotify play list of what I wish church worship music sounds like but doesn’t. Yet.

Worship with The Beastie Boys

So I wrote the other day about God Gigs. That is a secular gig where you just worship God. I remember friends of mine telling me how they would worship while clubbing and I can remember a number of gigs where I decided to worship God because I was having such a good time already. One particular Beastie Boy gig sticks out in my memory.

Anyways, the venerable Simple Pastor asked a good question –

What at a Beastie Boys concert was directing you to God?

The Beastie Boys are not Christians. In fact I am fairly sure they are Buddhists. So they are not your conventional Worship leaders. But the music is incredible, and he atmosphere created has the feeling of a large community event.

So what at a Beastie Boys concert directed me towards God? Well, I love the music. It gives me chills when played at volume. So I guess I just decide that I am going to praise God. Simple really. I am sure I could do this at any music event (apart from at a Jonas Brothers gig, then  I would probably be crying out for the end of the world, some sort of rapture or maybe just plague of frogs…).

To be honest I applied the same principle at a recent Christian Conference. This time the music was a little outside of my taste (like Rio is just outside of Manchester) so I just decided to worship.

The problem with the argument about worship music is that so much gets discounted on account of personal taste. Usually the taste of the Church leaders.

Generic mid 90s white boy rock

Andy Back and Luke Morris make excellent comments on my last post. They are address the issue of lyrical content and I agree with them both. A corporate worship song packed with good theology and biblical content is the best kind. The “Jesus is my boyfriend” stuff is hard for me to navigate without getting a little annoyed.

A number of modern worship artists/leaders write songs with cracking content. Stuff you can really get your head round and as a middle class lad, who has been to Uni and been around church culture my whole life it is easy for me to identify with these songs. That may not be the case for everyone. I think songs that are more about emotional than intellectual engagement are not to be dismissed by theological snobbery.

My main beef is the music styles used. Which some may view as being less important than lyrical content but I beg to differ. PJ Smyth blogs about the importance of credible Sunday meetings and Ed Stetzer writes (brilliantly) about contextualisation here and here. The music we use when we worship has to be a part of that conversation.

Let me pose you a question. Why do most of the large Christian Youth events, albums and even Youth Churches have generic mid 90s white boy rock (Paul Weller on a slow day) as their Worship Music genre of choice? Again, where is the creativity?

(Please note – I am aware that I am asking questions and have not ever provided the answers! I have not tried to innovate with music at church myself as I have never had that level of influence or anywhere near the level of required ability. My hope and my intention is that CCM:City will at least attempt the things I am ranting about)

Where are the creatives?

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 –

I am a snob

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.

Multi-cultural worship is unbalanced

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…

Getting over myself

I get pretty hung up about music. I love it. I love music that has energy, passion, stage diving and volume.

I also have hang ups about worship music. The worship music genre is way way way outside of anything I would normally listen too. I am getting over it, and my hang ups don’t stop me worshiping God in a corporate setting but I still get twitchy.

The only thing that gets me through is the presence of God. If God is moving, people are prophesying and worshiping hard then I forget the music. It’s that simple for me.

At The Chapel we have two excellent worship leaders, Keli (who attacks his guitar) and Matt (more controlled than Keli but matches him for passion!). Right now we have an acoustic guitar and all our voices. Thats it and I love it.

Until a few weeks back it was hard work. I wondered if we need to shake it up a bit. Someone even suggested adding a bongo player (please God, NO). Then we did an evening of prophecy and pray. SDince then the presence of God has taken the whole thing up a gig. I am grateful that God isnt genre specific (or scared of bongos).

Almost all worship music sucks

I tweeted earlier on that I had heard a worship album that didn’t make me angry. My tweets sync up to my facebook status and I got a whole bunch of people expressing their surprise.

The album was “Your love never fails” by Jesus Culture.

Why did I not hate it? (liking a worship album is a step I am not yet prepared to make but clearly old age is messing with my brain)

  • It was live which meant no sickly production.
  • It was not covered in a thick layer off cheese – I have a horrible memory of being played a worship album where the leader “spontaneously” sings about geese flying in formation. Words cannot describe the rage this provoked…..
  • The worship leaders seemed like they were enjoying themselves (Oh boy do I sound like my dad…)
  • No acoustic guitars!! Woop Woop!
  • No mid 90s Jazz funk
  • No easy listening
  • No choir
  • It didnt sound like there were depressed. I have always been amazed how “Happy Day” has been played like it was an ironic statement
  • It had energy, passion and athenticity

Lets be clear, they are ripping off coldplay, U2, Bruce Springsteen and anyother mid pace rock band you can think of and if they were a secular band I probably wouldnt be that bothered. But, they had something. Good songs, melody that you can remember, and an obvious passion for worship.  Will I listen to it more than twice? Maybe. Is it allowed in my CD collection. Absolutely not.

Right now that is off my chest I am going to listen to Rocket from the Crypt to clear my head.