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Why We Do What We Do

 

I wrote this article way back in 2004, but I believe is still holds true today.

Why We Do What We Do--Musically, That is 

You cannot be at Family of Faith Church longer that a few minutes before you realize that we do things around here differently. Few programs. Family friendly. Great Preaching. Good Food. Wonderful Fellowship. And then there’s the music…..different to be sure. Maddening for some, comforting for most. 

The question needs to be asked. What values drive the music ministry at Family of Faith Church? The topic of music is a highly charged subject. The topic of music for worship is even more explosive. I will not pretend to have all the answers, but I will try to explain the underlying philosophy that guides our music. 

Value #1- Sing. This would seem like a no-brainer, but unapologetic congregational singing is quickly becoming a thing of the past. The Bible is replete with “Sing unto the Lord….”passages. This is not a command for only those with special training, but for all believers. It is not an option. As part of worship to the Lord, we are commanded to sing those praises. This sounds simple, but the fact is in many churches, it really doesn’t matter if the congregation is singing—the folks on the stage (it used to be called a podium) are often not aware as to what the congregants are doing-either because they are listening to their own voices through monitors, or because the room is darkened so people can read the overheads. The sad irony is that praise and worship teams were developed with the idea of helping people sing better. What has happened in many places is that they have replaced the congregation altogether, with the congregation becoming an audience for what is happening on the stage.

 Value #2-Balance. Colossians 3:16 says:Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” That’s what we try to do in our services. That is why we have our “Psalm of the Day”. That is why we sing some praise choruses, or spiritual songs, at the beginning of our service. And that is why we do not neglect the great hymns of our faith.  

Value #3- Intergenerational. The church is made of all ages, and too often, older saints are marginalized in regards to music. They are made to feel that the music they sang as youth is outdated and need of reform. The fact is, classic hymns very often contain theological depth not found in praise choruses. At Family of Faith, the two coexist peacefully. The younger generation has learned to appreciate hymns and psalms, while the older folks have been introduced to contemporary praise music in a non-threatening way. 

Value #4- Participation, not Performance. The congregation is the praise team. We have no group up at the front performing the selected music. If the congregation does not sing, we cannot hide the fact. Accompaniment is an outgrowth of the participatory model, and as such we have a variety of levels of musical accompainament, with younger and less experienced performers mentored by older musicians. This usually looks like two pianos, but is often supplemented by guitars, strings, brass, or even a full orchestra. The congregation also serves as the choir. Through the “hymn of the month”, we have been able to teach our congregation great hymns of the faith—in four parts, no less! For the past two years, we have even taught the congregation the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Messiah! 

Value #5- Redundancy. - Rather than doing a “shotgun” approach to music, using hundreds of songs, we have about seventy psalms, hymns, and contemporary songs that are done in rotation, so as to ensure mastery in a few months. As time goes by, some selections are left to rest while others are added to the rotation. That is why, in an attempt to help us learn hymns, we “go deep”, that is, we spend a month learning the parts and memorizing the words. We want this music to get inside us, to be (along with Scripture), a comfort in times of need.  

Value #6-Building a culture- The priority of home discipleship has been a value that has transformed the lives of people in this congregation. Home discipleship is not a “Church thing”, but a life-style that is all-encompassing. As part of our culture, we have folks of all ages playing an instrument, writing original compositions, and doing creative writing. While not all are appropriate for a worship service, they can be showcased at our monthly hymn sings. Their art is solidly within a Christian world view. 

It is hoped that this document will provide a framework for the ministry of music within our church, and answer questions people may have.

 

 

Doug Horne

 

2012. Family of Faith
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