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Bleed Into One: The Story of Christian Rock

Bleed Into One: The Story of Christian Rock

Posted by on Sep 20, 2011 in Christian Music | No Comments

Wow. I haven’t been this excited about a movie in a long time.

Bleed Into One: The Story of Christian Rock. COMING SOON.

Check out the trailer embedded below! (and thanks to Wes and Zack from American Jesus for the find)

Capitalist Music Choice in Christian America

Capitalist Music Choice in Christian America

Posted by on Sep 14, 2011 in Worship Music | No Comments

“Sunday is the most segregated day of the week.”

Historians often point to the beautiful unity in the early church, which I had partially attributed to its homogeneity – the fact that it’s easy to be united when you have the same personal and cultural preferences anyway.

But in the book “Fresh Power”, Jim Cymbala, pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle Church takes issue with the “homogeneity” argument, bringing up how the early church created tremendous unity between Jew and Gentile, groups with cultural chasms between them.

So, since Pastor Cymbala refuted my first argument, I thought of another. 🙂

How many options were there for the 1st century Christian in terms of finding community? Because today, there are 25x the number of churches in America than there are McDonalds. And if there were only 1 church nearby, that’s probably the one I would go to. But if there’s a God-fearing, Bible preaching church down the street – that also plays music closer to what I’m familiar with and can more easily participate in – I’d be stupid not to go here, right?

Unless I’m intentionally trying to make a point that music doesn’t matter and unity is more important than anything else? But if we all did this, then we’d end up with 1 mega-church per town, right? Is that what we’re going for? I can’t remember now.

1VOICE Worship Experience

1VOICE Worship Experience

Posted by on Sep 9, 2011 in Christian Music, Worship Music | No Comments

I am extremely excited to be a part of the 1VOICE Worship Experience – a worship night for Chicagoland, tomorrow night, Sept. 10th from 7-10 PM.

Practices have been absolutely amazing. Even for your Christian friends who typically hate Christian music, it’s going to be pretty ridiculous.

Come say “hi” afterward if you can make it.

Check out the details for 1VOICE here.

Wanting a Racially Diverse Church that Prefers White Music

Wanting a Racially Diverse Church that Prefers White Music

Posted by on Sep 2, 2011 in Church Music, Worship Music | No Comments

When I first moved back to the Chicago suburbs, I attended a black church for a little more than a year. It was an amazing place. The people were passionate. The pastor provoked you to growth. The music was performed with excellence.

And my wife and I were the only white people in the room.

Our pastor often spoke of our vision for “becoming a church that looked more like the rainbow – more like what heaven would be like.”

I led worship a couple of times. Everyone was polite. A very few number of people told me that’s how they wished we would worship every week. But it was clear the vast majority didn’t care for it.

So, I met with my Pastor and asked him about his vision for the church and the role that music plays in it.

As I began to explain my thoughts, he interjected with, “You know Eric, if I change the music to what you like, I’ll have a bunch of people say, ‘they’re the only white folk in the room,’ Why are we changing to please them?” I was caught off guard, forgetting that pastors are so often bombarded with requests to change service specifics to their personal preference, he assumed that’s what I was after.

I told him I absolutely agreed, and that wasn’t what I was asking for. But that we might have to give up on our vision for becoming a racially-diverse church. Because in reality, what we’re asking for is a racially-diverse, culturally homogenous church.

We want white people that love Gospel music. We want black people that love Hillsong.

If we actually want a racially-diverse church, we need to expand our musical repertoire. If we don’t want to do that, we have to be ok with the Sunday segregation.

Jesus Loved Idioms. Hymns Ignore Them.

Jesus Loved Idioms. Hymns Ignore Them.

Posted by on Aug 26, 2011 in Christian Lyrics, Songwriting | No Comments

Christ used parables to speak to people where they were, in ways they could understand. He references the blacksmith, and the farmer – using analogies that our pastors have to explain to us today, simply because most of us have never struck iron, nor plowed a field.

In the same way, some of our songs use language and wording that we no longer relate to. We do this out of reverence to tradition, rather than using modern idioms that speak to people where they are, in ways they can understand.

Is Your Worship Team Made up of Musicians or Artists?

Is Your Worship Team Made up of Musicians or Artists?

Posted by on Aug 18, 2011 in Church Music, Worship Leading | No Comments

Do you know whether you’re a musician or an artist?

No, it’s not a loaded question. “Artist” isn’t the better answer. But, it’s a different one.

For example, let’s say someone at your church tells you they play the flute and are interested in being a part of your praise team. Obviously, you say “no”, because the flute is a stupid instrument….just kidding. But, it’s important you understand what this person means by “they play the flute”. Does this mean they can proficiently play sheet music? Or that they can play recorded parts by ear and improvise within a scale, even in songs where the recording does not contain that instrument.

Those are 2 completely different players. And you have probably have some of each on your team.

The “musician” will spend time on their own before practice perfecting how the recording band plays every solo. They will work to match their drum beats and fills to the recording. They will strain to hear the female vocalists on the CD and try to precisely match their harmonies.

The “artist” hears things. They want to change things. Not because it’s better. But, because it’s theirs. They have a desire, not to recreate, but to create.

And when you force one of these people to be like the other, there is going to be tension.

I Wouldn’t Get Attached to Your Favorite Worship Song

I Wouldn’t Get Attached to Your Favorite Worship Song

Posted by on Aug 16, 2011 in Worship Music | 2 Comments

Composed by Matt Larson, Christian Indie Musician

I wouldn’t get too attached to your favorite worship song – be it a modern “worship” tune, or good old fashioned traditional “hymn”.

Now hear me out on this. There are some very well written songs that move me deeply. But, what limitations do our songs have – if written in a sinful world – while at odds with our sinful nature?

There is an amazing sense of audacity in our sense of what pleases God, and what will please Him for eternity. We think a lot about our creations – mostly because we think a lot about ourselves. We believe that if we write a hit song = Jesus is honored (and probably forever). But, again, I ask my original question – “What limitations do our songs have?”

Still you say, “How could ‘How Great is Our God’ or ‘Amazing Grace’ not fit in well with the songs of heaven?”

Well, when you imagine worshiping in heaven, are you singing in English? Is the song in a major key? Is it composed in a verse-verse-chorus-verse structure?

We are constrained. Our worship is constricted and small. Sin has distorted our view of God. We live in this distortion, and cause it. Anything created here is not perfect, and will not be in God’s presence.

Christian Music Lyrics as Memory Aids

Christian Music Lyrics as Memory Aids

Songs are memory aids.

It’s how you learned the alphabet. It’s how you learned the 50 states. It’s how you, to this day, still remember the theme songs from every single 90s television show….“Whatever happened to predictability?”

The question is, what are we memorizing with our Christian music today?

Lynrd Skynrd front man Ronnie Van Zant reportedly never wrote down lyrics, and is attributed for the paraphrased quote, “If you need to write them down, they’re not worth being remembered.”

Are we as careful with writing our christian music lyrics as we are with our musicality? Or once we figure out a progression, do we just sing some broad God-language words over it?

Because theologically, it’s the most powerful tool we have.

Let’s Get All Oedipan in Church Today

Let’s Get All Oedipan in Church Today

Posted by on Aug 4, 2011 in Music Theory | No Comments

Ok, I’m fully aware that some of you aren’t going to be able to come with me on this today. But, as the first-time parent of a 6-week old, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a whole lot recently.

The idea of “recreating the womb.”

My little daughter is extraordinarily fussy. Doctors and child psychologists all recommend roughly the same things in terms of comforting her. All in order to simulate the feeling the child had in the womb. Specifically motion (an infant is submerged in liquid for the 9 mos. prior to birth), and noise (a white noise similar to the sound you hear when under water along with the ever-important and loudly booming mother’s heartbeat)

A mother’s heartbeat is, on average, 70 beats a minute. As an infant, that rhythm makes us feel safe. My question today is, do we ever outgrow it?

Ok, maybe I’ve fallen off the deep end here, or grasping at straws. But, at the very least, isn’t it interesting to know that a growing majority of electronica artists have chosen 70 bpm and its variants (140 bpm) as their default standard beats?

Perhaps because this is the beat that gave us our first sense of rhythm?

Perhaps because we have never outgrown that rhythm making us feel safe?

The Church Music Wars: Anything Not Banned is Permissible?

The Church Music Wars: Anything Not Banned is Permissible?

Posted by on Jul 29, 2011 in Church History | No Comments

The Bible speaks to orderly worship as it was acted out in the early church, but not in quite enough specifics to end the debate entirely.

So, the question remains, what is permissible? As language, culture, communication, rhetoric, tradition and music evolve, do we evolve with it?

This is the question at the heart of the Church Music Wars today. And the question that brought about similar contention between historical church leaders Martin Luther and John Calvin. Luther argued that “anything that is not banned is permissible.” Since the New Testament doesn’t negatively address unison singing, specific instrumentation or writing entirely new songs, they should be permitted. Calvin presented the opposing opinion, arguing that “anything the Bible does not expressly promote is banned.”

At first blush, Calvin’s argument seems theologically safer. What do you think?