Sometimes I write titles for my blog posts and get confused by my own brain and how it works. I generally come to the same conclusion after I think about it for a little while, and this is just the way God made me. I can’t do anything about that but walk in it and enjoy the journey. Now that’s out of the way…
If you are reading this and don’t agree that music is one of the most powerful and most consistent mediums in the world, you should probably go ahead and stop reading. This is probably not a post for you. If you’re still reading and haven’t been hiding under a rock for the last few months of the year, you’re probably aware that Adele came out with an album and it shattered records that we didn’t even know were out there. You may have even heard it. You may have been like me and preordered it and rejoiced greatly when you opened up your iTunes that Friday morning and it started to download automatically. Then you devoured track after track, ingesting each one with joy, sorrow, and gratitude. Joy that she finally gave us another album. Sorrow from the deep, heartfelt emotion that came from each track about love lost and found and searched for. Gratitude that there is still someone out there making music that is technically proficient and there is no whipping or nae-naeing involved (granted, not many songs can get a whole group of people dancing quite like that one can). I thoroughly enjoyed the album and, because I don’t spend a lot of time listening to radio, I wasn’t overwhelmed by “Hello” and still enjoy hearing it. I saw how much this album took the world by storm when it came out and I couldn’t help but wonder why. Is it the lyrics? It is her spot on reflections on relationships? Is it the fact that it’s virtually impossible for her to sing out of tune? Is it production value? I think it’s all of these things. I also think that the importance of music and how it connects to the heart and how well she does that with every note she sings.
When I think about it, I hear music like that and think about how real the struggle is. There’s not a real resolution at the end, but there is definitely an internal struggle that is being wrestled through. I didn’t listen to that album and think, “she figured out and now I know what I need to do”. I listened and thought, “man, this woman is dealing with some things. I hope she figures it out. I’ve been there before”. I think that’s the ticket. I also think that is the struggle that some people have with music within the church. There have been a myriad of songs written within the church that seem shallow and don’t touch all of the emotions that people walk in the door with. Yes, it is important to know that we are loved by God and that he can bring joy and that He is good. But sometimes, the struggle is real. Sometimes your kids are driving you nuts. Sometimes your wife or husband is about to leave. Sometimes your job is in jeopardy. Sometimes cancer rears its ugly head in someone you love. Sure, we want to know that God is the answer to all of our problems, that’s one of the reasons we come to church, to find encouragement. But there aren’t a whole lot of songs that dig down in the middle of the struggle.
This is not a post about old versus new, hymns versus contemporary. This is simply an observation about the strive for holiness. When you are striving for holiness there are many different points. There are highs and lows and many different points along the way. I don’t really think there’s a need for people to write songs about being stuck in sexual addiction. Everyone doesn’t sit in that place and it won’t edify the whole body. I can only imagine the comment cards that would come from that one. I do believe that there is an important voice that music has within the body of Christ that has to be heard. I believe that those leading people in the singing of these songs have an important job in helping connect the songs to real life situations. When that is done effectively then we start to see people go from spectators to participators in the singing portion of worship. When I hear a song on the radio that I don’t connect with, I turn it off and find something else. But when I connect with a song I sit in the car even after I pull into the garage and listen until it goes all the way off. When I’m in church and songs speak to how awesome God is and how good he makes me feel, that might not always connect with where I am. But, when someone connects that song to something that is happening in life that tugs at my situation or a situation I’ve dealt with, my interest is piqued. I tune in a little bit more. I feel as if this person is attempting to help me engage with my heart issues and why it is important for me to seek God for the answers.
I think music in the church is still a lot deeper than some people give it credit for, but we have to help connect it to the heart. Music is still important in the church because it connects to the heart in a way that a message doesn’t always do. It’s awesome when music can help prepare you for what is about to be said. When emotions are tapped into, your ears open a little more to hear what’s being said. You are looking for something that will answer questions that you brought with you. The church is still important today. Music in the church is still important today. Their effectiveness has everything to do with how we utilize them to connect people to the cross and its importance in every aspect of life. Adele and her team have figured out how to connect music to life. There is a ton of music being written for the church that have figured it out as well. Make sure that you are doing what you can to put that music in front of people. Why? Because the story still needs to be told.