Monday, June 3, 2013

Music and Ministry

Some of the best pastors I know are also musicians.  They are people who understand that the harmonies of music are also the harmonies of the soul, and that those harmonies converge with the harmonies of God.  Here's a short list of people that I know who are musical pastors (alphabetized for harmonic maximization):

*  James Baird (my grandpa), an ordained Presbyterian pastor, was offered a contract with the LA Metropolitan Opera Company to sing Baritone - a great pastor.

*  Bono; OK, I know this is a stretch, but Bono actually probably speaks to more of an audience (or congregation) than any mega church pastor in the world.  Bono regularly gives "sermon-ettes"in the middle of his concerts.

*  King David; the Bible tell us was a harp player, and soothed king Saul with a concert every single night to "calm Saul's nerves".  Though not a pastor per say, David's songs (Psalms) were the best sermons ever preached.

*  Jim Dejarnette; Minister of Music for First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, also regularly makes visits to bedsides of parishioners, and preaches very well.

*  Jack Hayford; one of the great Pentacostal preachers today, plays the piano in church on a regular basis.

*  Bill Hybels; most people don't realize that Bill Hybels, the Lead Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, actually was one of the original worship leaders of the church, playing mostly country western music.

*  Todd Procter; Lead Pastor of Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa, California, a 10,000 member church that attracts a youngish crowd of hipsters, actually began as a nationally renowned worship leader, before becoming a lead pastor.

And the list could go on and on.  What is the connection between music and ministry?  Well first, good preaching is basically "singing."  Far more important than the actual words that a preacher says, are the ways that a preacher intones those words.  Martin Luther King Jr. was famous for his "singing style" of preaching (customary in the African American preaching context).  Just imagine Martin Luther King saying the "I have a Dream" speech, but instead of beginning the talk in the one-toned tenor range that he began at, (I Have a Dream), imagine him starting the speech in a base clef, or in the dreary tones of a financial statement being read.  It wouldn't have had the same effect.

More importantly, musicians are also very "in tune" with the world around them.  Musicians have a hard time talking about things that don't seem relevant to their listeners,or helpful, or harmonic.  Good public speaking is about knowing your audience, but also about being in tune with how they feel, what is going on in their lives, what are their "hopes and griefs that they bear," (there I go quoting a song...What a Friend We Have in Jesus).

Most of all, musicians make great pastors because I believe that God is basically a harmonic being.  C.S. Lewis imagined the beginning of the world to have been like the convergence of a great symphony orchestra.  The sounds were all over the place, but then they were made one and harmonic by the great hand of God.  Jesus said, "Blessed are the Peacemakers (The SHALOM makers)," - but he could have said, "Blessed are those who bring harmony to their surroundings."

So, what to say to those reading this blogpost who are decidedly unmusical?  Can unmusical people be great pastors too?  Of course.  For example, one gets the feeling that the apostle Paul wasn't exactly musical (though he did sing songs to pass the time and boost his spirits while he was imprisoned in Philippi).  But lets just say that unmusical people tend to have different ministries than those who are musical.  They tend to bring cacophony (the opposite of harmony).  But of course, cacophony is a kind of music as well...

All For Now,

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