Worship Matters: Questions from a Christian Musician, Part 2
- Monday, December 30, 2002
Last time, I began to share my response to a college-age Christian musician who was planning to step out as part of a touring Christian band. Here's the rest of my response:
You ask if the role of a touring band is biblically valid. It depends on how you view it. If you see it as a general means of communicating the gospel and edifying the saints, then it certainly has biblical support. However, that's with the understanding that the involvement of the band members in the local church remains consistent.
But I do not think a touring band ought ever to be seen as functioning in the role of an Ephesians 4 evangelist or pastor. If a band is going to be a ministry of a local church, then the leaders of that church should really be directing it and in authority over it.
For instance, if my pastor felt I should put together a band to travel to different churches and help in outreaches and church planting, I'd go for it. But that's the only reason I'd go back out on the road. I traveled for 12 years (as part of the group GLAD) and didn't feel I was "home" until I left the band in 1984 to become a more active part of a local church.
If you and the other members of the band feel that this is to be your full-time occupation and pursuit, I'd seriously consider the impact it would have on your involvement with the church and your life in general. I'd question whether your desire "to bring the gospel back...to the airwaves of the secular world" is feasible, or even the right goal.
In the 1970s, there were major radio hits such as "Day by Day," "Oh Happy Day," and others that, as far as I can tell, didn't accomplish much beyond persuading people that it was okay to sing songs about God on the radio. I'm not sure how many lives were changed.
What changes lives in effective and lasting ways is the gospel working through the medium of Christ's body, the church. Christian bands play some part in that, but I think we tend to wildly overestimate their significance.
A current example is Lifehouse, a group that originated in a Vineyard church in California, was prayerfully sent out, and is now fairly popular in the mainstream market. I'm glad they're commercially successful, but despite all that, I'm not convinced they're actually doing more to build up the church than you guys are right now. In fact, you may be doing more.
Bottom line - I think that a vision like yours will best serve the church if it originates in the hearts of local pastors and leaders. Otherwise, I'd approach it with great caution. Perhaps an alternative would be limited times of touring, say during the summer.
I pray you continue to be strengthened by God's fatherly, costly love, expressed through the cross of our Savior.
Note: I realize that some local pastors have no vision for contemporary music being used in any church context. In such cases, it's important for musicians who play contemporary music to consider seriously what church God has called them to be involved with.
Now, if you're a good rock drummer but your church only uses a pipe organ-or maybe your church plays contemporary music but already has several drummers better than you-I am NOT saying God wants you to leave your church. There could be many other reasons he wants you to stay. As I've said in other columns, whether my gifts are used to fullest capacity in my local church is far from the most important factor in which church I serve in.
In the end, let's remember that the gospel will go forth to change lives, with or without our gifts or our music. Our call is to steward our talents humbly in the way that best glorifies Jesus Christ and serves His church.
If you'd like to have a greater appreciation for the gospel, I would highly recommend to you a new book by my senior pastor, C.J. Mahaney, titled A Cross-Centered Life (Multnomah). It's a small book, but packed with truth. You can purchase it at your local Christian store or order it online from the Sovereign Grace Store. If you want to preview the book via video, visit Sovereign Grace Ministries online and click on the video link on our homepage.
Among the many books on worship being written today, D.A. Carson's Worship by the Book stands out as being uniquely biblical, balanced, passionate, and practical. This new resource, with chapters by Dr. Carson, Mark Ashton, R. Kent Hughes, and Timothy Keller, will benefit anyone seeking to understand what kind of worship pleases God. You can order this online from the Sovereign Grace Store.
To find out more about Sovereign Grace Ministries, visit our website at www.sovereigngraceministries.org.
Read Part One of this article.
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