Face the music


I had the interview with Andrea Roane on Monday. It was fun experience, to see how everything operated. I was asked to arrive about fifteen minutes before the show started, I was told what the headline was going to be (something about Oral Roberts University), and then I was led into the Green Room.

Luckily, there was another guest, talking about AOL’s move from our area to New York. He had been on the show a number of times, so I was able to ask him a little bit about what to expect. There were no pre-interview questions, I had no idea what length of time I had, and I began to understand D.C.’s love of talking points. It was almost like preparing for a three-minute job interview. I was pretty sure of the basic questions that would be asked, and had prepared for those.

I was led into the studio, saw the familiar set, and sat down to hear the headlines. I introduced myself to the other people there, a terrorist expert, a journalist from Australia, and a friend of a newscaster. They were still waiting for one guest to arrive–a football player was late.

About halfway through the live show, Andrea tiptoed over to my audience seat and introduced herself to me. She was amazing–beautiful, smart, and engaging. I’ve admired all the work that she’s done about breast cancer awareness, but her great gift to me at that moment was to immediately put me at ease. She had read Tribal Church carefully (she had a spiral-bound book with meticulous notes), and she loved the book. She was deeply concerned for her church and she said she liked to invite guests who portrayed a more compassionate view of Christianity.

It was also like a job interview in the sense that I spent a lot of time after the segment, wishing that I had said certain things, or said them better. For instance, Andrea asked, “Now you say in your book that churches don’t need to pull out the Hip Hop music to connect with a new generation.”

And I said something…but I wished I would have said that congregations can play the music that authentically expresses who they are. If that means Hip Hop, fine. If it means hymns, that’s fine too. The important thing is that they are not trying really hard to be something that they are not, or putting on a show, in order to attract new generation. The crucial thing is that the church cares for each other and the world. The most significant thing is to deepen our connection with God. And our churches–even if they don’t have a rockin’ band–they are really, really good at caring and spiritual growth.

But…I do wonder about the music. If I’m honest, I love soaring hymns and beautiful chants, and the pipe organ’s an authentic expression of my worshiping community. But it’s not like I’m reaching for my CD of organ recitals on my days off. If I planted a church, I would stick with many of the international hymns, add some monastic chants, Taize music, great gospel, etc. In one church I attended, they had a jazz communion, which was amazing. I have an aversion to the Jesus-n-me choruses that seem to go on and on forever.

So, what’s out there? What do you sing? What do you wish you could sing? Does organ music make you hungry for baseball hot dogs? What’s your instrument of choice? If you planted a church, would the music be different from the one you attend/serve?


12 thoughts on “Face the music

  1. I love your vision for church music, I’d definitely see a church where I could do the music myself much like that (taize, international music, gospel, etc.)

    But, I’m currently in a “I walk in the garden alone” sort of church. I’ve tried to introduce some more of the global hymns from our presby hymnal but they don’t always play well on our organ, which is electronic and not a soaring pipe organ.

    I would love for us to use the piano much more than we do and to get some simple percussion going! I’d probably keep it pretty simple with those two elements. Although a Hammond B3 would be awesome for some gospel!

  2. Really, I just need the good old fashioned hymns I grew up with. Even if my view of my faith has changed, the music itself comforts me.

  3. I love the old hymns. Also, I love when we use the piano at my church because then we can hear everyone singing. And, I love when we get our “band” playing — two guitars, drum set, keyboard, singers. So — where does that put me? I guess I like everything, and wouldn’t want to have just one of those types of music.

    And, laughing at myself — you said “Does organ music make you hungry for baseball hotdogs?” — and I said to myself “um, what? how is organ music related to baseball???” Finally I asked my teenage son who’s a sports nut and he said “Mooooooooom…” (you know, that tone that teens can get that implies you are reeeeeeeeeeally dumb) — then he explained and, well…I guess I can recall hearing the organ once or twice at baseball games. đŸ™‚

  4. I worship at the div school in one of those eclectic music settings–LOTS of international stuff, some chant (not so much a fan), traditional hymns, big, big, big pipe organ, and lots of African drumming. I like it. A lot. A really lot.

    But I realize that this is not a typical worship style and that it takes a LOT of work. And while it might work really well in an academic setting, pulling together music from so many sources and not having it sound like a talent show for Jesus takes a lot of staff time that is probably needed elsewhere in the church.

    I preach at a teeny tiny church with an electric organ played by a very elderly gentleman. It’s all oldies, all the time, and I like that, too.

    I guess I want it all. Well, all except for the slappy happy Jesus is my boyfriend music, but I would probably tolerate that better than most, too.

  5. Jan,

    Yeah. It was an honor, for sure. I’ve decided Andrea Roane’s pretty much the bomb….


    About being an “I Walk in the Garden Alone” church, I know how you feel. I asked my first congregation what their favorite hymn was and we had a vote. I was sorry to find out that theirs was “Onward Christian Soldiers.” I had to intervene. I stuffed the ballot box so that the vote would tip to “Morning has Broken.”

    The hymns are definitely comforting, and I love drumming. I guess I have eclectic taste as well.

  6. I know its about the context… BUT for my ideal would be the best hymns from the Western/European context set to guitar and drums, preferably acoustic guitar with a rock beat.
    The best hymns have a theological depth that many new hymns or praise songs are sorely lacking (I’m a product of seminary!) and guitar and drums, hey, I’m 39 and from Belfast, I grew up with U2, or as the Belfast punk band Stiff Little Fingers sing “I believe in the power of guitar and drum, I believe in the hope held in a song.” (Yes, I’m a product of the best in Irish rock music!)

  7. We are a small church as well – but lots of young adults with families. We usually have both praise music, hymns, organ, and a choir and the cantata around Easter. We also have occasional special services – a gospel service with a reggae band – we have a reggae guy who worships with us. A blues and jazz service – we have a blues guy who worships with us. We just had a Dixieland type service with some musicians who had never practiced before and it was incredible. We put it on YouTube and made a DVD – and everyone was so excited that our little church could do that and do it pretty well! Consider having “one” special service with some different music and do publicity for 6-8 weeks and see how it goes. It won’t be so threatening if people think it is a special service – and then if they like it….

  8. I do like some of the old soaring organ hymns, but what gets my heart would be to hear simple songs (not Jesus & Me) but piano and guitar (classical guitar), gospel music, jazz, and traditional american songs..

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