Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Little Chat Using the "M" Word

The topic of music is a sensitive subject. One a lot of people avoid. But it is so important!That is why I am so glad I had the opportunity to go to a music conference a couple weeks ago, held by some of the very people that gave me my music degree!

I share this notes and my personal thoughts with you not to “get your dander up” or start WWIII, but just to share my philosophy of music and give you some verses and thoughts to defend your own music standards. I don’t know it all, by far, but I just want to share these things that I was reminded of during the music conference. It is important to be reminded every once in a while!

We arrived on Wednesday, to get our marching orders and get settled before the conference began on Thursday. I helped some with the nursery and children’s ministry, as well as a little snack booth and some random gophering. :) I didn’t get to sit in on all the sessions because of it, but that is probably ok, otherwise this post would be twice as long. :)

Wednesday night, Pastor Kelly preached the mid-week message as a precursor to the sessions to follow. His text was Philippians 1:9-10,

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement,
That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.”

The main thrust of the message was on the phrase, “approve things that are excellent.” Is our music excellent? Has it been proved as a high, Godly standard?

From the beginning of time, there has been a structure and order to music. God created it that way, and musicians discovered and studied it to create what we know now as “music theory.” That standard does not change….the music that follows that structure is the music that lasts. Why would we want to throw that tried-and-true structure out the window, when it is not only what God created and intended, but is also what is proven to WORK??? Unstructured music is disposable is popular for a while, but does not last.

We live in a world that is constantly trying to amuse themselves. That is seen even in the music people is always picked on a “what do I enjoy most” basis. The word “amuse” means to not think. I found that kind of interesting! There are probably better things we could do with our time than to sit around “not thinking.” The bottom line is, we need to not be so concerned with pleasing ourselves, and be concerned with how much we are pleasing the Lord in every area of our lives, not just music.

During Thursday and Friday, I attended several fantastic workshops. One was on developing special music for your church services. Here is a list of guidelines to help when selecting people to play this special role:

-Must be members of the assembly
-Must have some type of musical qualifications (like be able to sing on tune...that is usually helpful!)
-Must decide for themselves that this is a ministry, not a performance

Another workshop was on the church choir. Here is a list of guidelines for that, which could easily tie in with the special music list, too.

Choir members need to be…
-Cultured (groomed, good posture, no gum, etc.)
-Consciencious (on time)
-Christ-like (teachable Proverbs 1:7)
-Controlled by the Spirit of God (Ephesians 5:18)

Here are some interesting things to note about the Levitical musicians, the first appointed church musicians in the Bible. These things correlate with our church choirs even today! (Sorry I didn’t get all the texts’ll have to study the Old Testament for yourself!)

-They were chosen by God, and appointed by King David (Numbers 3:12)
-They were not to look like their worldly, pagan neighbors. (I Corinthians 6:13)
-They were properly dressed
-They had adequate and proper equipment (coughtuneyourpianocough)
-They served God as families
-They were responsible in their ministry (II Chronicles 35:15

The longest and probably best workshop was on our Philosophy of Music. Having a personal philosophy and standard is so important. If you have a standard in place, it is a whole lot easier to say “no” to the music that doesn’t live up to that standard!

Here are some thoughts on (yes, I’m going to say it) CCM, or Contemporary Christian Music. (By CCM I am not speaking of simply contemporary, or modern music in general. I am speaking of music that by the authors and writers own admission is labeled CCM in style)

This music takes a product of the unregenerate world (rock-based music) and is bringing it into our churches. It is star-centered and driven by performance, feelings, and emotion. The issue is the belief that music is “amoral” (or without feeling.) (Remember how “a-muse” means without thinking?) Christians who are in CCM music are the ONLY people who believe the amoral lie. All other performers and composers know that music sends a message. There are whole companies devoted to making music for movies or stores. Yes, they write music that makes you buy more. Do some research.

Here is a list of guidelines that shows what the believer’s music should be:

1. It should show that I am regenerated (Psalm 40; Ephesians 2:1-10, II Corinthians 5:17)
2. It should show ownership of my life (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
3. It must deny worldliness (I John 2:15; Romans 12:1-2; James 4:4; Galatians 1:4)
4. It must avoid compromise ( II Corinthians 6:14-17; 7:1)
5. Must be an example to the believer (I Timothy 4:12-16)
6. Must witness to unbelievers-not draw them! (Colossians 4:5; I Timothy 3:7) (Remember, music can speak to unbelievers, but ultimately it is preaching that God has promised to bless in reaching the lost. I Corinthians 1:18 II Timothy 4:2)
7. Must show that I am true to my exalted position in Christ (Ephesians 2:6)
8. Must reflect my submission to the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:8)
9. Must reflect God’s order of the universe - God is a God of order, and no type of rock music is orderly!

When deciding whether a particular style of music meets these qualifications, here are some good questions to ask yourself:
What does it sound like?
Where do I hear it?
Where does it come from?
Who sings it, and what do they look like?

Instead of CCM, I personally chose to listen to BPM, or Bible Principled Music! Here are 4 Principles that signify BPM:
1. BPM has as its goal the communication of God’s truth II Timothy 3:16 (CCM or any weak songs aren’t concerned with correct theology!
2. BPM will always reveal God’s Holy character
3. BPM is not evaluated by the criteria of music
4. BPM indicates separation from the world. It doesn’t blur the line, it draws it in the sand.

A good thing to remember is that a man’s faith will always come out in his music.
Psalm 119:54
Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.

I know that some of this may be hard to take in, and it may be vastly different than what some of you are used to hearing. That is ok! If you have any questions or want to discuss it further, I’d love to hear from you! If not, that is ok, too. You can just forget you ever read this post! :) But for those of you that want to discuss any of this or want to know more, please know that I am ready and willing to have a friendly chat with you!

I am so thankful for the opportunity to attend this conference, not only to reconnect with old friends, but to have my beliefs reviewed and more solidly grounded! Times like this are necessary in our lives, to remind us of the path we are walking on and to give us check points to evaluate how we are doing. Do you ever take time for review or reevaluation in the area of music in your life? If not, I challenge you to do so today!

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