Friday, March 14, 2008

Deep Thoughts On Special Music

I read this quote on special music by Mark Dever, Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist in DC, on Ben Arment's blog:

"I think special music smacks too much of a variety show. I assume the choir is the congregation. I'd rather not spend the short time we have together listening to someone else sing."

I thought that was very interesting and kind of sums up my feelings about special music in our worship service. It's funny, because back in the day, I programmed special music for almost every service at Seacoast. I prided myself in being able to put together the hippest, latest song that would set-up the message perfectly - or at least close enough. We once went to a conference at Fellowship Church and they did 3 different Creed songs! We had to have us some of that!!

Here is what I began to see when I really took a look at it:
  1. As good as we could do the songs, they always came off as bar/karaoke versions of the originals. Every time I hear a church (no matter how good they are) doing a "cover" song, I end up wishing it was the original artist doing it.
  2. When it was done, it always ended up being 4 minutes of people just staring at us on stage. We typically have around 70 minutes for a service. 45-50 of those minutes are the message. That leaves 20 minutes to connect people's hearts to God through worship. Why would we want to waste 4 of those staring at someone singing someone else's song?
  3. It's much more fun to have the audience participate with you! It's like a great concert where everyone sings along with the band.
We do still occasionally do a special song - mostly for holiday type services, or if it sums up the message perfectly at the end. That also doesn't mean that we throw together some worship songs every week. Each song is very thought out, and we try to come up with creative ways to use them in the service. Lately, I have been using a lot of video for the lyrics. There are some great resources out there right now for doing this well.

In the end, it just has to be authentic to who are you are and the mission that God has called your church to. Doing Creed songs was definitely not who we were. :)

1 comment:

eric b. said...

The main reason we do "specials" in our church services is to intentionally tie in our topic to the pop culture that the unchurched is experiencing. We've often heard about how a newcomer at one of our locations has heard a popular song on the radio that week, and because we did it as a special, it triggered for them a memory of the church service, and the Big Idea for that day. Even if they end up participating, as an unchurched person they are not going to have that kind of experience with all the Hillsong United songs combined.