Monday, July 11, 2011

Dear Church (Part 1): Turn Down The Noise

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This is Part 1 of a __-part series called "Dear Church"
  1. Turn Down the Noise: Establishing Quiet Moments in Our Services
  2. How to Choose Songs: A Biblical Precedent
I love loud music as much as anyone. As a songwriter and audio engineer, I deal with loud music and sounds all the time. It is a scientific fact that loud music sounds better. Our ears are better able to hear certain frequencies at louder volumes.

That's not what this post is about. I'm not talking about volume. I'm talking about noise. You see? In the ever-popular "seeker-driven" church music style, we have adopted the patterns of the world's media culture.

Flashy graphics and lights. Over-produced and over-compressed music. Worship teams who resemble the cast of American Idol more than the reflect the congregation they serve.

Here's the deal. I am a Christian Creative; a songwriter and a worship leader. I write contemporary worship songs that I hope get sung in every church from here to Timbuktu (or Timbukthree, whichever is farther). The songs I write are usually written with guitars and drums in mind. I love the Church and I love church music. I've seen video, lights, drama, and other creative elements used very effectively in worship.

There is a danger in being creative for creativity's sake. Creativity is a great tool to share the Gospel, but it can be a terrible god if we choose to idolize it. When we pursue creativity as an end unto itself, we end up creating noise through which our real message cannot be perceived and processed.

Here are three ways to cut the noise for more effectiveness:
  1. More substance to go along with the style. Songs that celebrate the Gospel, what God has done for us in Christ. Fewer "God is awesome and he's my buddy" songs. Fewer self-centered songs that exalt our response to God. 
  2. More clear and simple explanations of the Gospel. The Word is alive. Speak the Word clearly rather than cleverly. Let the Holy Spirit bring conviction of sin and be prepared to answer questions. We don't convince anyone to come to Jesus. That's beyond our job description. 
  3. More time for quiet reflection and prayer. Services should include contrasts between loud praise and quiet reflection. Scripture refers to the temple as a house of prayer. The great movements in the early church occurred during times when the apostles had gathered for prayer. This was a priority to Jesus and it should be a priority to us, whether introverted or extroverted.
Let's start a revolution. Let's carve out space for silence and reflection in our services. God still speaks. Are we listening?

What are some ways that your church is creating space for reflection? Is this something you could do better? Leave a comment and let me know.

Click here to read Part 2: "How To Choose Songs"

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