I have written before that I’m not a fan of today’s church music. Apparently a lot of other people aren’t too. Today Christianity Magazine posted an article asking Has Worship Music Lost Its Soul? (Short answer: yes.)
In the article, some church music industry mavericks point out how boring church music has gotten, some pundits explain why there’s a problem, the established superstar defends the status quo – so far it’s what I expected, especially since most of the stuff in the article happened elsewhere on the Internet months ago – and then (this is where I get depressed) a solution is offered. The solution is have a play around with some other styles of music, i.e. Why stick to bad parodies of Coldplay when you could also be ripping off Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran, some whale song and Snoop’s rap break in California Gurls? If the kids like the dubstep, do some dubstepping for Jesus. C’mon everyone! This will be fun! (I’m paraphrasing a little bit.)
THIS ISN’T A SOLUTION! THIS IS THE MUSICAL EQUIVALENT OF APPLYING A DIFFERENT INSTAGRAM FILTER TO THE SAME LAME PHOTO OF YOUR COFFEE MUG AND HOPING THAT THIS TIME IT WILL WIN FIRST PRIZE IN THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO COMPETITION. NO! IT WON’T WIN!
Ranting is easy. Let me try to say something positive now.
I’m a church music observer, not a practitioner, which means I’m that guy. Nevertheless, with apologies, here are my suggestions to help church music people find the soul again.
- Don’t change anything publicly yet. You don’t know what needs changed.
- Except for essential church band duties, ban church music from your ears for at least six months. A year would be better. You need a musical detox.
- Get to know the giants on whose shoulders you are standing. Find out who the musical heroes of your musical heroes are. Listen to their music. A lot. Find out who their musical heroes are. Listen to their music. A lot. Go back further than that. Follow the detours. Explore your history. Listen to the greats of every genre, even the stuff you don’t like or don’t get. Listen to understand. (This is not expensive anymore thanks to YouTube and Spotify.)
- Sing and play your instrument every day. Learn songs (not church songs) and make up new stuff. Do it alone and with others.
- Read great writing, especially poetry.
- Watch great performances of all types.
- Read your bible. Untranslate.
- Find a way to immerse yourself in your local community’s life. Find a place to serve nonchurch people in a practical way. This probably means volunteering somewhere. You need to spend time outside the Christian bubble.
- After a year, see what starts happening. It will probably be interesting. After two years, it will probably be amazing.
You are already full of soul. This list is only my suggestion for how to let it out. You may know of a better way, but there aren’t any shortcuts.
11 July 2012