If We Moneyball’d Church, Would We Still Sing Songs?

Posted by on Jan 2, 2012 in Church Music | 3 Comments

For those who saw the film adaptation of Michael Lewis’ brilliant book “Moneyball” this past year, you probably shared my reaction when you saw the old baseball scouts sitting around the table talking about how to find the next great ball player.

Superstitions and traditions based on the best technology available 40 years ago – their gut instinct.

And we smile and shake our heads realizing that our own industries we work for suffer from the same myopia, because they too were created before the dawn of the technological revolution. We write press releases the way we did 40 years ago. We teach children the same way we did 40 years ago.

And if Moneyball has taught us anything, it’s that, rather than tweaking, the only sensible thing to do is say,

“If were starting over from scratch today, what would we build?”

So, what about the church?

If it’s possible to forget about our recently created Americanized traditions, start over and say,

“If the role of the church is to create disciples, what should our weekly gatherings look like?”

And if you start from scratch, with no preconceived notions, do you really put music there?


  1. qpeeples
    January 2, 2012

    As someone who actually did start from scratch, I can say from experience that “yes” music (songs) are essential. At Thad’s we knew from the beginning that music is an essential element in creating community. But the point is – the music must match that community. Meaning; what music would the congregation select for itself if it were doing the choosing? So, that’s how Thad’s ended up with it’s mix of Ray Lamontaine, The Staple Singers, Black Keys and a healthy dose of originals composed by congregants. It is the most “liked” part of our service and the thing that keeps people coming back week after week. Your “moneyball” metaphor is a good one – if you want to stay relevant (see what I did there?) you have to have the courage to ask basic questions on a regular basis. Questions like “Why are we doing this?” “Does anybody actually want this?” And as you pointed out “How, exactly, does this contribute to people learning how to live as if Jesus were he/she?”

  2. Eric Olsen
    January 3, 2012


    Out of curiosity, at Thad’s, is there an intentionality to choose mainstream songs for their lyricism (truth) or sheer musicality – emotional enjoyment?

    I would enjoy hearing the Black Keys at my Sunday service. I would enjoy eating pizza at my Sunday service.

    But if we’re in a room building this thing from scratch, united on nothing else but our mission to “make disciples”, it’s hard to see how either make it in there?

    Would love to hear any more specifics on how you guys got there with Thad’s?


    • qpeeples
      January 4, 2012

      Here’s how it works: the songs are always chosen for their connection to that morning’s message. We work our way through books in the Bible in their entirety, splitting up passages based on general ideas. So, the music, message and scripture are woven together way in advance.

      As for specifics in the “ground up” way of thinking, our approach is based on the basic way or “pattern” Jesus established – we open up Kingdom living to people and then we teach them how to live there. This is because people won’t choose something (discipleship) that they don’t want. So, if we can bring in how God is in the middle of pizza, or the Black Keys, then they can begin to understand how EVERYTHING in their life can be transformed by aligning it with God’s vision of life (Kingdom Living). For instance, the Black Key’s “Everlasting Light” was used as support for a vital question: How EXACTLY is Jesus incarnate (alive) in the world now? Through love. The way we care for each other. When we care for someone, something else becomes present in the here and now. it worked like gangbusters, and always does.

      Jesus always worked this way, so we just followed along: Open up the kingdom, so people see that it is best for them, then teach them the specific, practical ways to live there. It’s a simple pattern, but not easy. It takes some thinking, but we never do it alone. The energy of the Spirit is always right in the middle of it.