Legacy 2002   Female Sexuality   Homophobia   The Unexpected God   The War Room   Church Musicians   Gone   A House Divided   A Simple Plan

There will, likely, never be a complete meeting of the minds between musicians and church members. However, if you really want peace in your church, the musicians cannot lose every battle every time. It's important to recognize them as a threatened minority group, as more and more musicians give up on the foolishness of the church and fewer yung people have any opportunity to develop musical gifts.

In 26 years of ministry,

it's been my experience that there's always been some amount of friction between musicians and the churches they serve. Musicians are a special breed of people, with a special purpose and calling [2 Chronicles 5]. They are utterly unlike any people you know (unless they are also musicians). They don't think the way regular folk do. They don't have the same interests or appetites regular folks do. I know fairly few musicians who are sports fans. I know fairly few musicians who go bowling or particularly appreciate small talk (unless it is small talk about music). Musicians eat, sleep, dream and breathe music. Musicians will, likely, not want to come to your cookout but will drive from here to eternity to hear (or, better, play alongside) other musicians. When a musician is in the church, sitting in the congregation, he or she is, on some level, desiring to be playing. It's inbred. It's what we do. The most basic advice I can offer you for dealing with these people is for you to come to terms with the fact They Are Not You. Just accept the notion that you will, likely, never understand their perspective on things. That they have their own unique view of the world, and the church they go to is not the same church you go to because their view of the world is just that different.

To be fair, and no offense to anybody, musicians tend to be more practical and better informed than a lot of lay people and even ministers. Musicians know Where To Put The Flower Vase. Seriously, if you're not sure Where To Put The Flower Vase, ask a musician. They know. Musicians tend to see the world through the eyes of, well, a musician. They tend to see things in 32 bars with a turnaround, and attend to practical matters of the church in a less emotionally-driven way than non-musicians, who see much of what goes on in the church in the context of a larger tradition and in the fuzzy warmth of childhood memories of This Is How We've Always Done It. Joy Banks, Minister of Music at King Solomon Baptist Church, adds, “Musicians are temperamental. It's because we're creative. We are, in most cases, able to use both sides of the brain. There have been studies done with children that show creative children test smarter in some subjects. If you read music, it's similar to reading a second language.”

Musicians like change. Musicians, one of the most oppressed demographics in the Christian community, white or black or otherwise, tend to appreciate the evolution of music and technique and style, while a great many Christians prefer to remain fixed at whatever point in time they stopped growing emotionally: to 1965 or whatever fond yestertime they remember as being the best years of their lives. This clash of perspectives, often an extreme one, leads to friction and misunderstanding between musicians and the church family, which typically results in the musician fighting a losing battle to move that large, gregarious plant from in front of his field of vision. As a musician, I've come to accept defeat as a foregone conclusion. My view of the church and its goals will be forever subject to the will of people holding on to a time long gone, a moment in space where they perhaps felt safe. Most of us musicians have simply come to terms with the fact that, in the black  church, the piano will nearly always be fifty feet away from the organ, and other unshakable truths of the black church.

If you really want to know what's on our minds, here's a few fairly universal complaints from our side of the street as well as a few constants in church design and function that are uniformly and consistently wrong. Things we do just because, well, that's how things have always been done, like bright red carpet in the sanctuary. Enough already with the bright red carpet. I know your grandmamma had bright red carpet in her church, that there's always been bright red carpet in the church, but, seriously, enough with that. It's just wrong. Bright red carpet quickly turns to dirty red carpet. It looks just terrible. It hurts your eyes and, to be even more blunt, it makes God's house look tacky, if not like a house of ill repute. The only reason, the only single reason, anyone ever puts bright red carpet in a church is because that's the way it's always been done. To all churches with bright red carpet, I don't mean to offend anybody, but, your church is facing backward. The church should face forward and be forward-thinking, facing the future unafraid. More important, a church should be more than just a place for you and your buddies to hang out at. It should be a ministry, a vehicle that reaches beyond your walls.

Pews, like bright red carpet, are an anachronism as well. They are expensive, heavy and impossible to move. They are wholly impractical for today's worship services, as their installation limits the uses and configuration of the main sanctuary to one purpose only. Chairs are much more practical. They are cheaper. They are easier to maintain, to replace and, certainly, to move around. They are typically more comfortable for the long haul than pews. You can re-configure your church for special events and special needs. Chairs seat more people because there is no wasted space, no hold-a-coat space, no too-small-for-me space. One chair equals one butt. But, as a musician and a minister, my main peeve list tends to deal more with music and sound in the church, with things that make a church inefficient and make a music director or music minister's job so much more difficult.

Legacy 2002   Female Sexuality   Homophobia   The Unexpected God   The War Room   Church Musicians   Gone   A House Divided   A Simple Plan