It's likely that almost everyone who reads this column is a Christian and therefore called to be a worshiper of God -- chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, part of the body of Christ. Why else would you be reading a column called "Worship Matters?"
But I suspect that most regular readers of this column are musicians as well. Of varying talents, giftings, levels and tastes, to be sure, but musicians just the same.
Musicians have been given the ability to communicate something of God's glory to others through music - that unique combination of rhythm, melody, and harmony that can move our hearts and inspire our passions. Christian musicians are doubly blessed, because they know the One for whom they imagine, compose, and perform their music.
In past Worship Matters columns, we've looked at why we sing, the history of congregational song, the meaning of music, and the role of music in worship. Now I'd like to turn our attention to the broader topic of Christian musicians. What does a Christian musician "look like"? More importantly, what should a Christian musician look like?
When you hear the phrase "Christian musician," you might think of one of the many solo artists or groups involved in the Contemporary Christian Music scene, like Steven Curtis Chapman, Jars of Clay, POD, or Sara Groves. Or maybe you think of those in the "worship artist" category - Matt Redman, Ron Kenoly, Delirious, Jeff Deyo, and others.
But you probably don't think of a violin player in the National Symphony who brings her Bible to rehearsals, shares her faith, and is actively involved in her church. Is she a Christian musician? I think so. What about the group of guys who form a band hoping to write and record original songs that will reach their generation with the gospel? They're certainly Christian musicians. And we can't forget the 75-year-old organist at First Baptist church. She very well could be a Christian musician.
Many people call a group like Creed "Christian musicians." Their songs contain allusions to Bible verses and scriptural metaphors, yet they claim they're simply singing songs with a positive message. Are they Christian musicians? Not if their interviews are accurate. Their views on God are anything but clear, and they make no claims to understanding or proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Then there's the piano player down at the Sunset Grille who plays standards every Friday and Saturday night, but uses his relationships there to share the gospel and reach out to those who would never set foot in his church. Christian musician? Definitely.
There has been much discussion in recent years about the role and calling of the Christian musician. It's my conviction that... regardless of musical style or cultural context, every Christian musician is called to faithfully make music in a way that reflects a grateful servant's response to the gospel.
With that understanding, every Christian musician is a worshiper with a responsibility.
Whether you're a guitar player, keyboardist, vocalist, drummer, bass player, violinist, organist, flautist, percussionist, or sax player, you have been given a gift that God desires to use for His glory. We'll spend the next few weeks examining our role in God's plans. My hope is that by the end of this series you'll be provoked, informed, and inspired to use music in the way it was originally intended.
This column’s content is derived from a message that Bob gave at Sovereign Grace’s “A Passion for the Glory of God” worship conference this past August. You can order the tape or CD from Sovereign Grace’s online store: http://www.sovereigngracestore.com/worcon201.html
Bob’s outline for “The Call of the Christian Musician” is available for downloading on the Sovereign Grace online store.
Bob Kauflin is PDI's director of worship development and author of the Internet worship theology column, Worship Matters.